Chinese Christian journalist jailed for COVID-19 reporting gets support

On Monday, December 28, 2020, Christian journalist, Zhang Zhan, became the first independent journalist to be sentenced to prison in China over her coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Zhan, her work was "God's will" as she was reporting on the conditions of people suffering from the deadly virus. More so, she reported on the extreme lockdowns being executed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). However, respite has come the way of the 37 year old journalist. 

U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, has condemned Zhan's arrest and called for her immediate and unconditional release by the Chinese government. He also stated that the arrest of the journalist is proof that the Chinese Communist Party fears citizens who speak the truth.

In his statement on Tuesday, Pompeo said that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has shown once again it will do whatever it takes to silence those who question the Partys official line, even regarding crucial public health information.

In addition, Pompeo stated that information about the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan is being manipulated by the CCP. Hence, people who seek the truth are being silenced. He said:

"Because of the CCP's gross malfeasance, the rest of the world relied heavily on uncensored reports from citizen journalists like Zhang to understand the true situation in Wuhan after the CCP-imposed strict media controls were enforced and a controllable outbreak turned into a deadly global pandemic. Her hasty trial, to which foreign observers were denied access, shows how fearful the CCP is of Chinese citizens who speak the truth."

Also, Pompeo emphasized on the desire for China to repress fundamental freedoms and obstruct transparency in the system. He noted that it is a sign of weakness and a threat to all of us.

The Shanghai Pudong New Area People's Court found Zhan guilty of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble," a charge the Chinese government uses for human rights activists and other protesters. She was accused by prosecutors of publishing large amounts of fake information and receiving interviews to purposely stir up the Wuhan COVID-19 situation.

Zhan stopped commenting publicly after her arrest in May. In late June, she began a hunger strike. She began suffering headaches, stomach pain, low blood pressure, and a throat infection by December.

She told one of her attorneys that she wished she had a Bible in detention. Also, she quoted 1 Corinthians 10:13, in which the apostle Paul said, "God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure."

Michael Pillsbury of The Hudson Institute told Fox News on Wednesday that "Zhan is a hero" for exposing a great deal of things China doesn't want out. She is the first citizen journalist known to face a legal proceeding for her work. However, there have been other journalists who covered the pandemic, including Fang Bin, Li Zehua, and Chen Qiushi. Nothing has been heard about them.

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