4 years in prison for reporting of outbreak of coronavirus in China

A Chinese citizen journalist who had reported on the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan’s metropolis was sentenced to four years in prison on Monday. That was communicated by one of her lawyers.

Zhang Zhan, 37, a former lawyer from Shanghai, had reported on the situation in Wuhan, the city that was initially the epicenter of the corona pandemic.


In her often-shared videos, Zhang showed images of overloaded hospitals and crematoriums in early February, when the Chinese metropolis was struggling to get the virus under control.

In Pudong, the court found her guilty of provocation and instigating unrest, two allegations that the Chinese regime often uses to silence critics. According to the court, Zhang had spread false information over the internet, one of her lawyers said.


Zhang is the first journalist to be convicted in China for reporting on the new coronavirus. More convictions may follow. Citizen journalists Chen Qiushi, Fang Bin, and Li Zehua have also been arrested after reporting from Wuhan.

Chinese citizen journalist Zhang Zhan (37)
Chinese citizen journalist Zhang Zhan

At the beginning of this year, China has been harshly criticized for how the corona crisis was handled in the initial stages. But the government appears to be planning to turn that into a positive story.

In the country, hardly any infections are reported, and although the outbreak started there, the registered number of infections and the number of deaths are considerably lower. According to authorities, nearly 87,000 people are said to be infected, and the death toll is 4,634.

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