All these sentiments built up to the burst of national-wide grief when Li Wenliang, one of the first eight doctors who got reprimanded for warning people about the novel Coronavirus, died from the very virus he warned people of. I have never seen such a magnitude of collective emotional outburst on Chinese social media in my life. People were furious because they saw themselves in him; they realized any ordinary person can be criminalized and silenced in the society; their pent-up frustration towards the internet censorship erupted.
Hashtag “we need freedom of speech” trended on Weibo on the night of Feb 6, but became “the page not found” in 12 hours.
To keep up with the speed of the outpouring of emotions across platforms, censorship agencies sped up on deleting posts and articles, in addition to closing Weibo and Wechat accounts. But users have adopted a habit of taking screenshots of “sensitive” contents when they see one, repost them — yet only to be deleted again. Some people started projects to archive deleted contents on Github, Telegram, and Notion. Among many, an open source project archiving Media Coverage, Non-fiction Writings, and Individual Narratives on novel coronavirus have been trending on Github and have got 6.6k stars. As long as the internet is not dead, the cat-mouse race will never end.