He Tried to Warn China. Now, a Posthumous Apology

Chinese government says Wuhan officials acted 'inadequately' on virus whistleblower Li Wenliang
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2020 7:31 AM CDT
He Tried to Warn China. Now, a Posthumous Apology
In this Feb 3, 2020, photo, Dr. Li Wenliang is seen at the Central Hospital of Wuhan in Wuhan, China.   (Beijing Thanksgiving Public Welfare Foundation via AP)

The ophthalmologist who tried to warn the medical community in Wuhan, China, about the early spread of the novel coronavirus before he succumbed to it himself has now received his due from officials there. NPR and Business Insider report that Chinese authorities have issued an apology and dropped a reprimand against Dr. Li Wenliang, 34, who died in early February. The nation's National Supervisory Commission, which started looking into Li's reprimand and death after a public outcry, says Wuhan officials used "irregular" and "improper" procedures in how they handled Li after his messages about the virus sent to ex-classmates went viral. When confronted by authorities, Li was made to sign a letter saying he'd made "false comments." Now, China says that was wrong.

"Punishment will be carried out to relevant parties and personnel that have been slow in response, lost control in the prevention process, and were [ignorant] of their job duties," the commission said in a statement. Wuhan police say two cops involved in reprimanding Li have been disciplined. Per CGTN, however, Li wasn't completely let off the hook, with investigators noting that, despite good intentions, he disseminated info "inconsistent with the actual situation at that time." Although many in China—where Li became a hero and symbol of free speech—were pleased to hear of his vindication, some wondered why the blame was strictly kept to local officials, and why the probe didn't address "broader government failings," per the Wall Street Journal. "Dr. Li, perhaps tonight's outcome can give you a tiny bit of consolation," one user wrote online. "But it's still far from sufficient to let you rest in peace." (More coronavirus stories.)

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