A Chinese virologist supported claims that Beijing tried to hide the coronavirus and said it had been forced to flee to the United States.
Dr. Li Meng-Yan, previously a virology specialist at the Hong Kong School of Public Health, said she decided to leave the territory because she “knows how [China] deal with whistleblowers. “
Since the coronavirus epidemic caught the world’s attention earlier this year, the Chinese government has been accused of trying to silence anyone who tried to sound the alarm.
Doctors reported that they were arrested after speaking on social media of what they witnessed, while journalists said they were harassed and confiscated their equipment after trying to report on the matter.
Speaking to Fox News, Dr. Li, who visited the United States in late April, said that she was one of the first people to start researching the new virus, but that her efforts had been been suffocated.
“The reason I came to the United States is because I am transmitting COVID’s message of truth,” she said.
“If I say it in Hong Kong, by the time I start saying it, I will be missing and killed. ”
The demands come a few days after the adoption of a new security law in Hong Kong which, according to critics, will allow Beijing to target its political opponents in the territory.
Dr. Li said his supervisor first asked him to conduct a “secret” investigation into a new “SARS-like” virus in Wuhan on December 31 of last year.
“The Chinese government has refused to ask foreign experts, even in Hong Kong, to do research in China,” she said.
“So I turned to my friends for more information. ”
She said that she then spoke to a number of contacts, including one who worked at the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
She said that the friend told her about an unknown virus that had emerged in Wuhan and that “family clusters”, an indicator of human-to-human transmission, had been observed.
He was also told that the number of cases would increase exponentially.
She says that when she reported to her supervisor, she was told to “keep quiet and be careful”.
“He warned me …” Don’t touch the red line, “” said Dr. Li, referring to Beijing’s unspoken limits on such investigations.
“” We will be in trouble and we will disappear “. ”
Last week, Beijing imposed new draconian laws on Hong Kong, which previously guaranteed autonomy under an arrangement called “one country, two systems.”
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The law is formulated in vague terms, but targets crimes such as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.
Critics say the law will erode press freedom, the independence of the judiciary, and the right to peaceful protest in the territory.