Retired Professor Arrested for Calling COVID-19 “CCP Virus”

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Retired Professor Arrested for Calling COVID-19 “CCP Virus”

Beijing police formally arrested retired professor Chen Zhaozhi (陈兆志) on April 14 for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” over his online speech about the COVID-19 pandemic. The former Beijing University of Science and Technology professor had posted comments online, including reportedly writing “Wuhan pneumonia is not a Chinese virus but Chinese Communist Party virus” on social media. Chen told his lawyer during their first meeting on April 24 that police had tried to force him to confess but he refused. He said he was politically persecuted for exercising his freedom of speech. 

Haidian District police initially criminally detained Chen for “fabricating and deliberately disseminating fake information” on March 11 but changed the criminal charge upon formally arresting him. Chen’s family hired a lawyer when he was first seized over a month ago, but the lawyer’s requests for visit were denied until late April. Chen is being held at Haidian District Detention Center. 

According to his family, Chen, 67, suffers from hypertension and has had a stroke. He is at high risk of further medical complications, including infection with the novel coronavirus at the detention center. Deprivation of medical treatment is a common form of torture used against incarcerated human rights defenders and dissidents. Chen had a Twitter accountand posted occasional tweets criticising Xi Jinping and the government, most recently in February. In July 2019, Chen was beaten by police officers from Dongsheng Police Station in Haidian District after shouting “down with Li Peng” on the day of the former premier’s funeral. 


Renee Xia, Director (Mandarin, English), +1 863 866 1012, reneexia[at]

Frances Eve, Deputy Director of Research (English), +1 661 240 9177, franceseve[at]

Leo Lan, Research & Advocacy Consultant (Mandarin, Cantonese, English), +852 9623 3023, leolan[at]

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