Wuhan Diary #21: The Twenty-fifth Day of the Wuhan City Closure — February 16, 2020

Graphic by 巴丢草 Badiucao

February 16th, 2020 The Twenty-fifth day of the Wuhan City Closure

When I opened my eyes this morning, the room was so full of sunlight that it seemed that yesterday’s snowstorm had never happened.

If we only could open our eyes and be back to January 1, when this disaster had not happened, if only we could rewind 2020 and get off to a fresh start, wouldn’t that be wonderful?

Another medical worker has died. Nurse Liu Fan of Wuchang Hospital died on the afternoon of February 14th. I notice that the official announcements from the media and hospitals in Mainland China do not use the word “died in the line of duty” for medical staff. Instead, they simply say “passed away”. However for police who die because of their epidemic prevention work, they do use the term “died in the line of duty”. Of course, I know why they do things a little differently. They want these medical worker deaths to be less well known in order to reduce their effect on public opinion.

Online rumor reported in Sydney Today that Li Fan died because of inadequate protective clothing available at hospital, infected her family as a result. According to press reports, Wuchang Hospital has denied inadequate protective clothing for medical workers at hospital, police are suppressing this rumor, blaming it on foreign forces trying to forment discord in China.

The authorities will do anything to achieve “virtue capture” of public opinion by “making into heroes” of medical staff even while concealing and letting pass in silence their “deaths in the line of duty” and how all kinds of medical supplies could not be supplied to the hospitals. So do you think the regime really cherishes medical workers? No, they are just tools and a limitless supply of cannon fodder to be thrown into the fight.

Even more desperate are the many “self-appointed paragons of reason and objectivity”

Danghui golden.svg

who infest the Internet in Mainland China. Insisting that they are “dispelling rumors”, they claim that Nurse Liu Fan’s infection was not caused by inadequate hospital protective clothing but that she was instead infected by her parents. I couldn’t be angrier about this. Do you think those people have the Communist Party emblem where their heart is supposed to be?

When I took the college entrance examinations, my mother wanted me to study medicine. Unfortunately, I had no interest in that profession. My mother pestered me about that for many years. Now I asked her wasn’t I lucky that I didn’t study medicine? Mother didn’t say a thing.

  • Liu Fan, a nurse at Wuchang Hospital, died in the line of duty on February 14.
  • Chang Kai, director of the film and television department of Hubei Film Studio, died on February 14. Their parents and other family members also died in this disaster.
  • Duan Zhengcheng, a professor, PhD supervisor and academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, died on February 15.

These are one whose names we know. There are many, many countless ordinary people like me who will never again see Wuhan’s cherry blossoms.

Sometimes I just want to hypnotize myself into refusing to empathize with the people caught up in this tragedy. I want to pretend that I have been completely taken over by my defense mechanisms, and become numb and completely indifferent.

But I can’t do it. I know all those place names far too well. Those lives counted up in numbers and those lives not counted. I may have rubbed shoulders with all of them. That voice following a car and yelling “Mama!” keeps coming back to me. As if I myself had cried that out. I still have that pain inside of me.

“When you dear friends become new ghosts, you anger in those evil days turns to the task of remembrance.” These days I have gotten to better understand that verse.

Today I keep on hearing about more lies. A friend who lives in Northeast China told me that he had recently bought a package of face masks and had sent it to Wuhan. But the package of masks was shipped from Wuhan itself!

A nurse friend in a chat group told me yesterday that they had run out of food today. She wrote it just that way “ran out of food”. Nothing to eat.

I don’t have the words to describe the way I feel. Even my ability to get angry is fading away. All I have left is powerlessness, I am just filled with a sense of powerlessness. There is no way that I can help them. I can’t do anything to right any wrongs. I want to scream, “Just go on strike! Don’t work anymore!” But I forced myself to shut up.

I can only write down these few words so that I won’t forget. I don’t even expect other people to remember along with me. What I hope for is that I won’t forget. One day the epidemic will be over. May we never ever forget, once the epidemic is over and we are happily and joyfully celebrating our survival of this disaster, may we never bury the feelings of anger and powerlessness that I feel at this moment.

Yesterday some friends outside Wuhan told me that their company had asked them to make contributions. The could give 100 RMB, 300 RMB, or 500 RMB. I asked them if they could refuse to donate. They said, “That is not allowed.”

I didn’t know what to say. Ever since the epidemic began, I have been telling my friends not to contribute. There is no way we can ever know where that money will go. But those “donations” have also becomes a performance of “the will of the masses is a mighty force”. The intentions of individual human beings have no place there.

Just like those breaking news stories on Weibo social media about people like

  • The elderly blind person who donated 1000 RMB;
  • The elderly trash-picker who gave 9000 RMB; and
  • The elderly janitor from a public building who donated his life savings.

This is such a national humiliation! Is there anything here to make propaganda about?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is kaichang.jpg
Hong Kong 01 Report: Chinese film director and four member of his family — his parents, his elder sister and Chang Kai himself died of coronavirus pneumonia during a period of just seventeen days.

When I saw the last testament of director Chang Kai on Weibo. Every word is heartbreaking:

On the eve of the Lunar New Year, complying with the government order, l canceled my reservation for a dinner party at a fancy restaurant. I was forced to take on the role of chef for the joyous meal we celebrated together my parents, my wife and I. We had no idea of the nightmare to come.

On the first day of the Lunar New Year, my father started to run a fever, to cough and his breathing became labored. I took home to several hospitals but none of them had a bed available. I asked everywhere for help but still could not find a bed. In despair, we returned home to save ourselves. I stayed by his side as a good son should. After several days of being utterly unable to help my ill father, he died. My father was bitter at having to leave this life. Battered both emotionally and physically, my loving mother’s immune system was weakened and she too was infected and followed my old father in death.

After having attended my parent’s bedside for several days, the cruel coronavirus also began to consume the bodies of my beloved wife and myself. We went from hospital to hospital begging and crying out for help but the words of people like ourselves who have low position in society count for little. We couldn’t find hospital beds. Now that the virus had penetrated deeply our chests, we were past the best point for a medical intervention.

As my breathing faded, we told our family, friends and our son in England: “All my life I have fulfilled my duties as a filial son, as a father, and as a loving husband to my wife and been an honest man! Now goodbye forever to the ones I love and to the ones who love me!”

Last testament of Chang Kai

Some say “ We went from hospital to hospital begging and crying out for help… but we couldn’t find a hospital bed” while others refuse medical help where they can’t get a hospital room suitable to the rank of an agency head.

This place is just too disgusting.

Chinese text

2月16日 武汉封城第25天










About 高大伟 David Cowhig

After retirement translated,with wife Jessie, Liao Yiwu's 2019 "Bullets and Opium", and have been studying things 格物致知. Worked 25 years as a US State Department Foreign Service Officer including ten years at US Embassy Beijing and US Consulate General Chengdu and four years as a China Analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Before State I translated Japanese and Chinese scientific and technical books and articles into English freelance for six years. Before that I taught English at Tunghai University in Taiwan for three years. And before that I worked two summers on Norwegian farms, milking cows and feeding chickens.
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