China: Businessman and journalist Fang Bin remains in detention

Chinese businessman Fang Bin, who reported on the Covid-19 pandemic from the front line in China, was reportedly being detained pending trial. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) urges the Chinese government to release Fang immediately.

Chinese businessman and journalist Fang Bin. Credit: screenshot of YouTube clip

Fang remained detained at the Jiang’an Detention Center in Wuhan, the Epoch Times reported on November 24, citing a local official. The report also said Fang was still awaiting trial without specifying the charges he was facing. 

Fang began posting videos of himself reporting on the Covid-19 situation in Wuhan on January 25, 2020 but was later detained and given warnings by the government several times.  

He was reportedly held incommunicado following his detention on March 5, 2020 and accused of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble," a charge often utilised by the authorities against those who are critical of the government. 

His whereabouts have not been known since then, sparking concerns about his wellbeing and safety.  

Fang was one of the several Chinese citizens targeted by the authorities for reporting on the early stages of the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan. In December 2020, former lawyer Zhang Zhan became the first person to have been convicted by the Chinese government for her journalism related to Covid-19. Reports in late October this year revealed that Zhang’s health is rapidly deteriorating in prison, where she is serving a four-year sentence.

Moreover, Li Zehua, who previously worked with state broadcaster China Central Television, and former lawyer Chen Qiushi, were both held in communicado in February 2020 for trying to report and document the pandemic in Wuhan. Both Li and Chen have since been released. 

The IFJ said, “Journalists are a vital source of information on the ground, especially during a public health emergency, and they must not be targeted for their coverage. The IFJ expresses deep concern about Fang’s current status and urges the Chinese authorities to immediately release him.” 

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

Twitter: @ifjasiapacific, on Facebook: IFJAsiaPacific and Instagram