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China's wailing wall

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Zhōngguó kūqiáng | 中国哭墙

Dr. Li Wenliang's Weibo page (@xiaolwl)

Weibo page of coronavirus whistleblower Dr. Li Wenliang, which since his passing has become a digital gathering space for Chinese netizens, much like the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. So many comments have been left on his final post that Weibo is no longer tallying them--there are over 100,000, with dozens still being posted daily as of August 6, 2020.

Dr. Li Wenliang, a 34-year-old ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital, was punished in December 2019 for warning family and colleagues about a mysterious "SARS-like virus" before either the Wuhan or central governments had acknowledged the emerging coronavirus epidemic. He later contracted the novel coronavirus, likely from one of his patients, and succumbed to the disease on February 7, 2020. Li was a longtime Weibo user; in his last post, from February 1, he wrote, "Today, the nucleic acid test results came back positive. The dust has settled, there is finally a diagnosis." It is here that netizens have left well-wishes, bared their souls, and shared their frustrations.

Several comments posted between March 31 and April 9 are translated below:

@不开心的苏肥肥i:Another sleepless night. Been feeling a lot of pressure lately. The company has already laid off many of my co-workers, and I don’t know for how much longer I can keep my job.

@花香满衣123:Because of my comments on WeChat, I was also reprimanded by the police. I wrote a letter of repentance guaranteeing not to do it again. I am scared and saddened. How did you feel when the police scolded you, were you afraid?

@刘北席yu: Remember to exercise, like you did in college. Take care of your health on the other side. Good night, my brother. [Source]

From August 6, six months after Dr. Li passed away:

@起个昵称都被抢完了: Dr. Li, I had a little to drink tonight, and I noticed it's already been six months since you've been gone. I've shared a lot on your comments page. Thank you so much. There's a girl I like, but I don't know how to talk to her. All I can do is admire her here. I hope you don't mind. Dr. Li, I wish the best to you and your family.

@独行侠lonewarrior: Today my criminal law professor said there was no justification for reprimanding you, because your WeChat group post about a SARS-like virus was not fundamentally inaccurate, and there was no legal basis for punishing you...

@dongzhidabao: It's been almost two weeks since my daughter's dad died. I still can't believe it's true. When I open my eyes, I feel like you're still right in front of me. You must be lonely over there, but I can't join you yet. My parents and our daughter still need me. When you have the time, you can go talk to Wenliang. I miss you so much [Source]

"Users feel comfortable talking to Dr. Li," writes Li Yuan at the New York Times. "They know he will never scold them or judge them for what they say. They know, after reading his more than 2,000 posts, that he was a gentle and kind soul."

CDT Chinese is building an archive of posts left on Dr. Li's Weibo.

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