While China is being criticized for withholding information, it has confirmed one lethal side effect of the virus: the death of free speech. Chinese professor Xu Zhangrun has been arrested after publishing criticism of President Xi Jinping and the handling of the crisis. He is now cut off from the Internet, banned from social media, and could soon find himself in prison. The government will no doubt argue that he had a pre-existing lethal condition in China: a desire for free speech.
Xu has been a tireless and courageous voice in China. His article, Viral Alarm: When Fury Overcomes Fear, shocked many in its open criticism of the authoritarian leader. For those of us who defend free speech, Xu is a reminder of what real free speech advocates face in nations where freedom is a mere abstraction.
I have to believe that there will be a day when China is free and people like Xu will be celebrated for these acts of defiance.
For the moment, China will no doubt argue that he had a pre-existing lethal condition in China: a desire for free speech. The virus only aggravated that terminal condition.