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Zhao Shilin

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Zhào Shìlín | 赵士林

Zhao Shilin (b. 1954) is a scholar who specializes in philosophy and Chinese culture. He is known for publicly criticizing Chinese government’s early response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Zhao studied at Jilin University and Peking University in the 1980s. In 1998, Zhao obtained his doctorate in philosophy from the Graduate School of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Before retirement, he was a professor of the School of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Minzu University of China. He is now reportedly living in Canada.

In early 2020, Zhao wrote two open letters to Xi Jinping criticizing the Chinese government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He attributed the virus' rapid spread to tight information controls and the gutting of civil society. He also explicitly called for Xi to bear responsibility for the outbreak:

The Li Wenliang matter is a call to action. Our top priority must be to implement the basic human rights enshrined in the constitution and protect citizens’ freedom of speech. At the same time, we must recognize that freedom of speech is not only a basic human right, but also a basic requirement to guarantee the normal running of public life in the Information Age. By stripping the freedom of speech of Li Wenliang and all eight of those doctors, their early warnings about the outbreak were not communicated to society in a timely manner. We failed to arouse the needed alarm and vigilance, and as a result, the outbreak got out of hand. How deep, how so very deep a lesson this is. [Source]

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