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In this CDS exhibit, you can explore the memes, tributes, and artwork inspired by the life and death of Dr. [[Li Wenliang]].  
 
In this CDS exhibit, you can explore the memes, tributes, and artwork inspired by the life and death of Dr. [[Li Wenliang]].  
  
We also invite you to visit his [[Li Wenliang|People page]] and learn more about his life and legacy.
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==Who Was Li Wenliang?==
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Dr. Li Wenliang (October 12, 1986 - February 7, 2020) was one of the first physicians to sound the alarm about the novel coronavirus that is now known as [[COVID-19]].
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Dr. Li Wenliang practiced ophthalmology at Wuhan Central Hospital. In late December 2019, Dr. Li posted to a closed WeChat group about a "SARS-like" illness originating in a wet market in the city. On January 3, two officers from the local Public Security Bureau forced Dr. Li to fingerprint a notice as agreement to cease from "[https://chinadigitaltimes.net/2020/02/translation-li-wenliangs-admonishment-notice/ publishing untrue discourse on the internet]." He was also likely one of the "eight rumormongers" who were chastised on national TV. Dr. Li continued working at the hospital as the virus raged through Wuhan, and eventually contracted the disease, probably from one of his patients. From an isolation ward, Dr. Li took interviews from the press, famously telling Caixin that "I believe [[there should be more than one voice in a healthy society]]."
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Dr. Li died of COVID-19 on February 7, sending [https://chinadigitaltimes.net/2020/02/netizens-demand-free-speech-after-death-of-disciplined-wuhan-doctor/ waves of grief and anger through the Chinese-speaking world] that were amplified by the state's initial reports that he was still undergoing treatment. A leaked photo of Dr. Li's "admonishment notice" triggered an [[I can't, I don't understand|online campaign to demand the truth from the authorities]]. His Weibo page has become known as [[China's wailing wall]] for the hundreds of thousands of messages posted there, beginning at the time of his death and continuing through the many months and years of the pandemic.
  
 
==Memes of Resistance==
 
==Memes of Resistance==

Revision as of 20:06, 15 September 2021

Jìniàn Lǐ Wénliàng | 纪念李文亮

Liwenliangjinian.jpg

On February 7, 2020, Dr. Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist at the Central Hospital of Wuhan, passed away from a new disease he had warned his colleagues about in a WeChat group just six weeks earlier. His warning leaked to the internet, alerting the public for the first time to the novel coronavirus spreading in Wuhan. Authorities reacted quickly, branding Li a rumormonger. His death sparked an outpouring of anger, grief, and demands for free speech from Chinese internet users that continues more than one year after his death.

In this CDS exhibit, you can explore the memes, tributes, and artwork inspired by the life and death of Dr. Li Wenliang.

Who Was Li Wenliang?

Dr. Li Wenliang (October 12, 1986 - February 7, 2020) was one of the first physicians to sound the alarm about the novel coronavirus that is now known as COVID-19.

Dr. Li Wenliang practiced ophthalmology at Wuhan Central Hospital. In late December 2019, Dr. Li posted to a closed WeChat group about a "SARS-like" illness originating in a wet market in the city. On January 3, two officers from the local Public Security Bureau forced Dr. Li to fingerprint a notice as agreement to cease from "publishing untrue discourse on the internet." He was also likely one of the "eight rumormongers" who were chastised on national TV. Dr. Li continued working at the hospital as the virus raged through Wuhan, and eventually contracted the disease, probably from one of his patients. From an isolation ward, Dr. Li took interviews from the press, famously telling Caixin that "I believe there should be more than one voice in a healthy society."

Dr. Li died of COVID-19 on February 7, sending waves of grief and anger through the Chinese-speaking world that were amplified by the state's initial reports that he was still undergoing treatment. A leaked photo of Dr. Li's "admonishment notice" triggered an online campaign to demand the truth from the authorities. His Weibo page has become known as China's wailing wall for the hundreds of thousands of messages posted there, beginning at the time of his death and continuing through the many months and years of the pandemic.

Memes of Resistance

In an admonishment notice from the local police station in late December, 2019, Dr. Li was told to “stop the illegal behavior. Can you do this?” He responded “Yes.” Then they warned him, “If you are stubborn, refuse to repent, and continue to carry out illegal activities, you will be punished by the law! Do you understand?” He wrote, “Understood.” Li returned to his medical practice until he too fell ill. From his sickbed, he told Caixin news, “There should be more than one voice in a healthy society.” In the wake of his death, netizens shared his final words, twisted the admonishment into the defiant meme I can't, I don't understand, and inspired calls for free speech.

China's Wailing Wall

@xiaolwl: Today, the nucleic acid test results came back positive. The dust has settled, there is finally a diagnosis.

Li Wenliang wrote his final Weibo post on February 1, 2020, revealing his positive antigen test. So many comments have been left on this post that Weibo is no longer tallying them--there are over 100,000, with dozens still being posted daily.

For a few hours on June 19, 2020, the comments were disappeared, but they were later returned to their place in China's wailing wall. Netizens continue to check in on Dr. Li and tell him about their joys and sorrows. Some write every day, while others "visit" Dr. Li more occasionally. People come because Dr. Li "listens," and their strength in numbers has largely kept the censors at bay.

Translated Comments

April 7, 2020

Sixty days after Dr. Li's death

@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 how much longer I can keep my job. 
@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.
1-14.jpg

August 6, 2020

Six months after Dr. Li's death

@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

January 24-31, 2021

@李家凡: It’s now the first anniversary since your last Weibo post. Dr. Li, on Saturday I’ll buy some fried chicken and drink a toast to you.
@喳喳出: Dr. Li, the whole world is watching the investigation of the origin of the coronavirus. Who could have guessed that our nightmare would become the world’s nightmare. Dr. Li, even after you left us the world is still in stifling, suffocating darkness.
@像向日葵般温暖的杨姑娘: Brother Li, I saw this yesterday when I was proctoring an exam. Everyone remembers
Image-1612158185699.png
This hero, who sounded the alarm for us all, was himself felled by the pandemic. We must quickly vanquish this virus, the best result that can come from Dr. Li's early warning! Thank you for your time on this earth!
@傻了八極: Good afternoon, Dr. Li. Compared to them, you are the true hero. The people will never forget you.
@长岛冰茶_ice: Dr. Li, this morning I learned that someone in leadership is leaving my company. He was the best I have ever met at my workplace, bar none. I’m very sad to see him go and can’t help but cry. Farewells always come too soon.
@Grouge: Good morning, Dr. Li. I arrived safely at home. The feeling of coming home was really great. When I saw my grandparents still waiting for me at such a late hour, I was brought to tears. A sense of belonging is so important. I hope that everyone who is about to set off on the road home can arrive safely and smoothly.
Theory is gray, the tree of life is evergreen

Translations by CDT staff.

Archived Comments

Read many more comments at CDT Chinese's archive, updated weekly.

Tributes

Art

(golo 高佬 / 88 Bar)
(Shanya / What's on Weibo)
(Weibo / Sinocism)

Poetry

One of several poems written in honor of Li Wenliang is translated below. Read more at CDT Chinese.


Mourning Li Wenliang

by Yu Xiuhua


Now rest!

There’s no virus worse than “punishment for speech”

There’s no world uglier than one that mixes right with wrong


Now rest!

The Yangtze River’s waters carry boats and capsize boats

The Yellow River’s waves ferry people and ferry ghosts


Now rest!

Now let me live my shameful life

And let me sing my angry dirge


We are not afraid to die

We are afraid to die before our time

You died, and my time died before its time


If there are viruses in heaven

If you speak up again

Then where will you go?


I hope wherever they take you in

There are still people

Who speak Chinese [Chinese]


Translated by Anne Henochowicz.

Music

Ephemera

Farewell message to Dr. Li Wenliang written in the snow in Beijing,[1] February 2020 ("¡Hasta siempre! Farewell Li Wenliang! Homenaje al Dr. Li Wenliang que alertó del CoronaVirus" by Mikel Agirregabiria Agirre is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)


👋 On Clubhouse, users set up a silent room to commemorate Dr. Li Wenliang around the date of the first anniversary of his death.[2]

References

Further Reading