(Minghui.org) Nearly four months have passed since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus pandemic on March 11, 2020, and countless pieces of evidence have emerged to show the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) intensive cover-ups of the initial outbreak. 

When a virologist from Hong Kong decided to reveal how the CCP misled the Chinese people and the world about the virus, she found herself facing severe retaliation: her parents begged her to remain silent to avoid being targeted, and her employer removed her information from its website and fired her. 

Li-Meng Yan is a researcher from the University of Hong Kong. Although her page on the university website has been removed, online information such as that in the prestigious Keystone Symposia in which Yan gave a presentation on the influenza vaccine in 1998, indicates she was trained as a MD and Ph.D. In particular, her research interest is focused on infectious diseases or inflammation via different animal models.

Yan said that the Chinese government already knew about the coronavirus in late December 2019, but chose to withhold the information, reported Fox News on July 10 in an article titled “Chinese virologist accuses Beijing of coronavirus cover-up, flees Hong Kong: ‘I know how they treat whistleblowers’.”

Human-to-human Transmission Known in December 2019

Yan fled to the United States on April 28, 2020 after being told that raising awareness of the CCP's cover-up in Hong Kong could jeopardize her safety, resulting in her being jailed or “disappeared.” 

Working in a WHO reference laboratory, she was one of the first scientists in the world who studied the novel coronavirus. Her supervisor, a top expert in the field associated with the WHO, asked her to look into SARS-like cases coming out of mainland China at the end of December 2019. 

“The China government refused to let overseas experts, including ones in Hong Kong, do research in China,” Yan said in the interview, “So I turned to my friends to get more information.”

Through her extensive network of medical professionals, Yan learned about the human-to-human transmission of the virus on December 31, 2019. As she reported this to her supervisor, she was just told to keep working. But the Chinese CDC did not announce human-to-human transmission until January 21, 2020, three days before locking down the city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus. 

Yan’s testimony is consistent with information obtained from other sources. Ai Fen, director of the Emergency Department at Wuhan Central Hospital, said that testing of patient samples confirmed coronavirus in her hospital as early as December 30, 2019. Besides reporting this to the health authority, she also shared it through social media. This led to multiple disciplinary actions from officials. One of her coworkers, Li Wenliang, was also silenced and later died of the disease on February 7, 2020. 

Cover-ups from Officials

Li-Meng Yan’s experience depicted a similar story. She said an announcement from the WHO on January 9 denied human-to-human transmission, based on information from China. Not only that, medical professionals in China were also forbidden to discuss it. “We can’t talk about it, but we need to wear masks,” all her contacts in mainland China essentially told her the same thing. 

Another attempt to sound the alarm about the virus to her supervisor on January 16 was also thwarted. “Keep silent and be careful,” she was told. “Don’t touch the red line,” the supervisor added, “[Otherwise] we will get in trouble and we’ll be disappeared.”

She added that Malik Peiris, co-director of a WHO-affiliated lab, was also aware of the situation, but did not do anything to alert the public. 

Although she felt obliged to share the information with the public since many lives could have been saved, Yan also knew the potential consequences. “I know how they [the CCP officials] treat whistleblowers,” she explained.

Her fear was confirmed as she discussed her dilemma with her husband. “He blamed me, tried to ruin my confidence... He said they will kill all of us,” she recalled. That made her determined to come to the U.S. and speak out. 

The retaliation followed. The University of Hong Kong took down her page and revoked her access to her online portals and emails. A spokesperson said that Yan is no longer an employee there.

Officials also went to her hometown in Qingdao, Shandong Province, and ransacked her apartment while threatening her parents. Terrified, her parents begged Yan to come back and give up the fight by remaining silent. 

But Yan said she would not stop speaking out, despite continued threats from the CCP. 

An Invisible but Solid Red Line

Li-Meng Yan is not the first one to expose the CCP’s disinformation. But like Ai Fen and Li Wenliang mentioned above, nearly all who dared to do so faced serious consequences for their courage and honesty. 

According to Chinese Human Rights Defenders, a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., Chinese officials arrested at least 325 residents between January 22 and 28, 2020 alone. They were charged with “spreading rumors,” “creating panic,” or “attempting to disrupt social order.” They were punished with detention, fines, or “disciplinary education.”

In addition, the Chinese authorities at all levels have followed the CCP’s official tone closely. On December 30, 2019, the day that Ai confirmed the coronavirus infection in her hospital, the Wuhan Health Commission issued an urgent notice concerning numerous cases of an unknown pneumonia connected to Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan. It also forbade medical facilities or individuals from disclosing any such information without authorization.

Further, information obtained by Minghui indicated that China's National Health Commission issued a policy on January 3, 2020 (Document 2020 No. 3) with the following instructions:1) All regional governments and health commissions need to manage samples of coronavirus that caused Wuhan pneumonia according to regulations on “Highly Pathogenic Microorganisms (Type 2)”;(2) Without authorization, no organization is allowed to provide test results to any other organizations or individuals;(3) all medical facilities must immediately stop any ongoing viral testing;(4) all medical facilities must destroy all samples from patients;(5) frontline doctors in Wuhan are not allowed to disclose any information about Wuhan pneumonia. 

Under the CCP regime, Chinese officials follow the Party’s narratives closely, eradicating any attempts to challenge the CCP's direction or cross the “red line” as Yan mentioned above. Many other such examples have also been seen during the persecution of Falun Gong, a mind-body practice based on the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.

After Chen Zixiu, a practitioner from Shandong Province, died of severe torture in police custody, her story was reported in the Wall Street Journal by Ian Johnson, who later received the Pulitzer Prize in 2001 for the story. Chen’s daughter, however, was arrested three days after the article was published. She was later charged with “divulging state secrets” and incarcerated for four years. 

Another example is Wei Xingyan, a graduate student at Chongqing University, who was arrested for upholding her faith in Falun Gong. She was raped by a police officer in front of two female inmates at the Baihelin Detention Center in May 2003. After her case was reported by Minghui.org, the Chongqing 610 Office took excessive measures to suppress the story and arrested more than 40 people for exposing the incident. At least ten individuals were sentenced to prison, with terms between 5 and 14 years. They were all charged with the crime of “divulging state secrets.”