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SARS Whistleblower Died; the Authorities Banned Public Mourning

Jiang Yanyong, a retired Chinese military doctor known as the “whistleblower” of the 2003 SARS epidemic, died Saturday at the age of 91 at the People’s Liberation Army General Hospital in Beijing (also known as the 301 Hospital)  after he had contracted pneumonia and other illnesses that led to heart and lung failure.

A friend of Jiang Yangyong in Beijing told Radio Free Asia that the authorities had told Jiang’s family to keep his funeral low-key. “No public funeral, no public mourning or flower baskets, and no media interviews.” Wreaths or elegiac couplets must be given to Jiang’s wife, who will then submit them to the authorities for approval. The bureau has even written a eulogy for him.

Because of his exposure of the SARS epidemic in China in 2003, as well as his call for the authorities to correct the name of the 1989 student movement, from 2003 until the end of his life, Jiang’s personal freedom was constantly restricted . He also publicized his experience of saving the lives of students who were shot during the 1989 Tiananmen massacre.

During the 2019 sessions of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), Jiang wrote letters to Chinese President Xi Jinping and the NPC, asking them to redress the 1989 student movement.

The friend said that after writing the letters in 2019, Jiang was again placed under house arrest. “He was checked and not allowed to see outsiders. We couldn’t even see him, and his home phone was cut off. Even his son couldn’t contact him. Dr. Jiang was mentally hurt and his mood was negative. He suffered from Alzheimers in his later years. He wanted to go out to see a doctor, but the guards would not let him. Recently he contracted pneumonia and was admitted to the 301 Hospital.”

Source: Radio Free Asia, March 14, 2023

China’s Migrant Workers Return to Their Hometowns

China’s economic situation has continued to deteriorate. After the Chinese New Year, many migrant workers (peasants who go to work in the cities) came back to the cities. Surprisingly, they found that there were no jobs waiting for them. Even if there were jobs, the pay would have been too low. Thus many of them decided to return to their hometowns.

However, these migrant workers no longer have the traditional sense of peasants. They are used to an urban life and are not accustomed to farmland work anymore. The urban experiences gave them the knowledge and courage to defend their rights. Thus they could stand up when facing unfair treatment in the villages and potentially shake the CCP’s grassroots level control.

Source:, February 26, 2023

RTI: Zero-Covid Government PR Content Disappeared from Chinese Search Engine

Radio Taiwan International (RTI) recently reported that Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping set the tone at the Politburo Standing Committee held recently, when he pointed out, “China has achieved a decisive victory in the three-year fight against Covid-19, creating a miracle in the history of human civilization.” During the pandemic period, the Chinese government vigorously promoted slogans such as “Insist on the unshakable Zero-Covid policy.” However, some Chinese netizens discovered that, those pictures of the slogans have mysteriously and swiftly disappeared in Baidu search results. The official celebration of the success performed in the Standing Committee meeting kept silent about the “master policy” of Zero-Covid as well. If the Communist Party has achieved a miracle in fighting the pandemic, how could this miracle be achieved without the guidance of the master policy? The fact is that, Zero-Covid caused a huge humanitarian disaster in China, because its basic means are isolation, blockade, city closure, district closure, and even province closure. People also found that, the shelter hospitals and countless Covid testing stations that played an important role in creating these “miracles” were also instantly abandoned. Baidu is China’s largest search engine and Google is banned in China. Without political intervention or orders “from above,” do tech companies like Baidu have the guts to remove the traces of government’s master policy which led to a major success? What is the reason for clearing these government promotional images from China’s domestic Internet?

Source: RTI, February 20, 2023

Public Opinion: How Can a County Executive’s Family Pay a 10M Yuan Ransom?

Some hot news spread on the Internet on February 10. It was about the ransom of a former county Communist Party Secretary (the highest-ranked official in the county). Huang Dongming,the  former Teng County Party Secretary of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, was kidnapped. The kidnappers asked for 30 million yuan (US$4.31 million) in ransom. Huang’s family paid 10 million yuan, but the kidnappers refused to release Huang. Then the family reported the kidnapping to the police who were able to rescue the hostage.

The public focus was on how Huang’s family could afford to pay 10 million yuan. Teng county is a very poor county in China and, on the surface, the officials’ salary is not high at all. Many commentators took it as indication that, in the past, Huang had collected a large amount of illegal money.

Also, several Chinese media reported on February 7 that Zhang Enliang, the former Hegang City Party Secretary in Heilongjiang Province, was accused of taking a bribe of 73 million yuan.

Official corruption is a severe problem in China that the authorities are unable to fix.

Source: Radio Free Asia, February 10, 2023

Around 10,000 Wuhan Retirees Took to the Streets

On February 8, around 10,000 retirees in Wuhan City, Hubei Province gathered at the municipal building to protest the city’s newly published “Employee Medical Reform” plan.

The plan, effective on February 1, will significantly cut the medical insurance benefits of Wuhan’s 2 million retirees. In the past, the government paid each retiree 286 yuan per month for medical spending , but the new plan only pays 83 yuan, a 70 percent cut. The new plan adds a 500 yuan deductible before any insurance payout. It appears that each person can be reimbursed 4,000 yuan a year, but the reality is only 1,300 yuan. Moreover, many medicines are no longer covered by the insurance.

A WeChat discussion showed that people have demanded that the Wuhan Mayor fix the issue by February 8; otherwise they will hold a large gathering on February 15. If there is no resolution by the end of the month, the retirees will demand that the mayor be impeached.

Police came to the site, but didn’t crack down on the protest. There are unofficial reports that the mayor met with the protesters in the afternoon and later on the city put the new plan on hold.

Source: Aboluo, February 8, 2023

China’s Marriage Registration Declined for Eight Consecutive Years

Well-known Chinese news site Sina (NASDQ: SINA) recently reported that, in 2021, the number of marriage registrations in China dropped to 7.636 million couples. This meant there had been a decline for eight consecutive years. In addition, the age of each first marriage has been significantly delayed. In 2021, the average age of the first marriage of those in Anhui Province was 31.89 years old for males and 30.73 years old for females. The reasons for the decline in the number of marriages are: first, the decline in the number of young people, second, there are more men and fewer women in the marriageable population, third is the high cost of raising children, fourth is the high cost of marriage, fifth is fierce social competition and employment pressure, and lastly, the younger generation’s perception of marriage has changed. Economists suggested the following to tackle the situation. First, increase the supply of residential land in big cities and provide housing subsidies for families with children; second,reduce the costs of childbirth, childcare, and education; third, establish a social support system that is gender-equal and child-friendly; fourth, relax the conditions for adoption and placement; fifth, lower the legal age of marriage to 18; and sixth, protect single women’s reproductive rights. The suggestion of lowering the legal age of marriage to 18 years old resulted in intense discussions and controversies online, and one time even ranked at the top of the national hot search. Currently, the legal age of marriage in China is 22 for men and 20 for women. It is lower than Japan, the U.S., India, Germany, France, Canada, and even Mexico. The ultra-low birth rate and the rapid shrinkage of the young population have become major challenges facing Chinese society.

Source: Sina, February 8, 2023

China Plans to Carry out Many “Work for Food” Programs

On January 10, China’s National Development and Reform Commission promulgated a newly revised “Management Measures of the National Work for Food Program.” The measure will be implemented on March 1, 2023. People’s Daily published the question and answers that occurred in an interview between an official from the National Development and Reform Commission and reporters.

The program is to ask people to perform labor (for which they will be paid) instead of simply receiving government welfare. It states, “If manual labor can be used then do not use a machine; if work can be done by local people (on welfare) then do not use professional teams.”

To encourage local governments and business entities to offer more “Work for Food” projects, the central government will increase its subsidy from 15 percent of the labor cost to 30 percent.

[Editor’s Notes: Promoting such programs may mean Beijing wants to  manage its welfare system more effectively. It may also indicate: one, that Beijing may need to provide more social welfare to its people; and two, Beijing may be running low on money so it uses the welfare money (which it has to pay anyway) to cover projects that it would need to pay for with money from other sources.]

Source: People’s Daily, February 1, 2023

People’s Lives: Organ Harvesting Happened in China 30 Years Ago

Mr. Guo Zhigen (郭志艮), a resident at Qingtao City, Shandong Province, told the Epoch Times that he has heard about an organ harvesting case that happened 30 years ago.

In April 1991, Mr. Guo stayed in the Hospital Affiliated with Qingdao University in Qingdao to treat his aplastic anemia. One summer afternoon, on his way to the bathroom, he heard someone crying when passing the nephrology department (hematology and nephrology departments were in the same area at that time). He asked the patient what happened and was told that the patient was going to receive a kidney transplant the next day and was worried about the result since he signed a document to relieve the hospital from accountability. The patient looked like an official under 40-years-old.

The patient’s family member also told Mr. Guo that the police had a “body confiscation team.” Police had already matched both the blood of the person to be executed and the recipient. On the day of execution, the police would ask the dead person’s family members for all sorts of documents to prove their relationship to the dead. As long as there was a document they didn’t bring with them, the police would then refuse to acknowledge their connection to the dead and they then declare the dead person’s body as unclaimed. The “body confiscation team” could then take it to sell to hospitals.”

According to Mr. Guo, the hospital performed two liver transplants on the next day. The operation for the patient he met went well, but the other patient died on the operating table. Qingdao’s newspaper reported that the kidney transplant was successful.

According to published information, the hospital affiliated with Qingdao University was among the first group of hospitals in China to do kidney transplants. It did the first kidney transplant in 1982.

Source: Epoch Times, January 31, 2023