by WorldTribune Staff, April 1, 2020
A Chinese college student who publicly called for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to relinquish power amid its mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak has reportedly gone missing.
Zhang Wenbin, a college senior and programmer from China’s northeastern Shandong Province, posted a video on Twitter on March 30 which said “Down with the Communist Party.”
Twitter is blocked in China, but the student used a VPN, a tool used by Chinese citizens to access overseas websites censored by the regime’s Internet firewall, the Epoch Times reported. Days earlier, Zhang had posted the same message in text on WeChat Moments, an Instagram-like Chinese platform.
“The student wrote in another tweet on March 30 that the police had already summoned him for the Wechat post, and he would soon be detained for five days. He hasn’t made any more posts since then. On March 31, he was no longer accessible,” the Epoch Times report said.
Supreme leader Xi Jinping’s regime has made it a priority to stifle domestic criticism of the CCP’s mishandling of the virus outbreak. Recently, Chinese tycoon Ren Zhiqiang went missing after he criticized the regime’s response to the outbreak and called for freedom of speech.
Earlier this month, a Chinese primary school teacher spent 10 days in detention and lost his teaching license for questioning China’s official virus death statistics.
Meanwhile, Zhang’s WeChat account has been permanently blocked by Chinese censors on suspicion of “spreading malicious rumors,” according to a screenshot Zhang posted. He said that Weibo and Qzone, two other social networks created by Chinese tech firm Tencent, were also not functioning properly for him.
“I was also once a ‘Little Pink’ [a term to describe youths indoctrinated by the regime] … and only after getting through the [Great Firewall] did I come to recognize the Party’s sinister face,” Zhang said in the March 30 video.
He said that “seeing people of Hong Kong and Taiwan courageously resist” the CCP in recent months had inspired him to be more vocal in the hopes of helping the Chinese people see the ruling regime for its “true colors,” and “push down the wall lying in front of us.”
“Maybe I won’t live to see the day the CCP falls, nor do I know if anyone will see this video, but regardless, I have been to this world,” he said.
Zhang’s video has been viewed over 175,200 times and received 2,200 likes so far.
Shortly before his disappearance, Zhang described to The Epoch Times in a March 30 interview how he came to openly criticize the Chinese regime:
In 2016, Zhang said he was able to circumvent China’s Internet firewall to read unfiltered information. He learned about the 1989 student-led pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square, a taboo topic in the country.
Zhang said he began to uncover the Xi regime’s sprawling network of lies piece-by-piece, from the devastation wrought by its stringent one-child policy to its persecution of faith groups such as Falun Gong, and repression in the regions of Xinjiang and Tibet.
He visited Hong Kong and Tibet to meet the locals, and came back comparing what he saw on the ground with how the government portrayed them.
“I realized that they have been lying throughout,” he said. “It’s no longer just what I learned from the Internet, a lot are facts I saw first hand.”
Zhang largely kept what he had discovered to himself, but in October he publicly expressed support for the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.
“He shared a Hong Kong protester-initiated campaign on WeChat, calling for people to support the movement by posting selfies with one hand covering their right eye,” The Epoch Times noted. “However, soon after he heard that police summoned his schoolmate for posting pro-Hong Kong remarks on social media. He immediately deleted his account.”
Zhang said he “was rather cowardly at the time.”
Zhang said he recently searched for a few “sensitive” keywords on Weibo, including “we can’t, we don’t understand,” a hashtag that began trending in the wake of coronavirus whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang’s death. Li was initially silenced for speaking out about the outbreak in Wuhan, then died of the virus he warned others about.
Soon after, Zhang said he began having trouble commenting, sharing, or messaging on Weibo. He ended up deleting the app in frustration.
“What repulses me the most is how the CCP blindfolded the public by indoctrinating them with lies. They have jailed them behind the high walls,” Zhang said.
The Epoch Times noted that Zhang “has several good friends from high school who he said have bought into the state’s propaganda and would not accept any differing views. They, along with many of his other classmates will eventually become teachers, instilling the same mindset into the next generation, he said.”
“Brainwashing is probably what the CCP has been most successful at,” Zhang said.
His parents have warned Zhang that he had made a “mistake” by speaking out. But still, the student remained defiant, saying “I didn’t do anything wrong, why can’t I be allowed to speak?”