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China: Covering the Coronavirus Contagion | The Listening Post (Full)

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On The Listening Post this week: The coronavirus outbreak in China - a public health disaster and a messaging nightmare. Also on the show, the saga of Hong Kong's kidnapped bookseller.

Covering the Coronavirus Contagion
On January 23, Chinese authorities shut down the city of Wuhan. In short order, 17 more cities were quarantined, affecting nearly 60 million people.

The orders issued by Beijing were significant, but late in coming: the first official case of the virus was confirmed almost two months ago. That was how long it took for China's state-controlled media to stop downplaying the seriousness of the outbreak and start providing the kind of information that can save lives.

By that stage, however, millions of Chinese citizens had passed through the affected region - unaware of the risks involved.

With the death toll now in the hundreds, the number of infected in the thousands, the coronavirus - like the coverage of this story - has gone global.


Luwei Rose Luqiu - assistant professor, Hong Kong Baptist University; former executive news editor, Phoenix TV

Katrina Yu - China correspondent, Al Jazeera English

Mary Hui - reporter, Quartz

Huiling Ding - associate professor, North Carolina State University; author of Rhetoric of a Global Epidemic: Transcultural Communication about Sars

On our radar:
Richard Gizbert speaks to producer Meenakshi Ravi about the Washington Post reporter who was suspended from her job over a controversial tweet, and The Guardian's decision to ban advertising from fossil fuel firms.

The Saga of the Kidnapped Bookseller of Hong Kong
For more than 20 years, Lam Wing-kee owned Causeway Bay Books, a store that not only specialised in literature critical of the Chinese Communist Party and the private lives of Beijing's ruling elite, but perfected the art of smuggling those books - which are banned in China - onto the mainland.

His work turned him into a target. In 2015, Lam disappeared along with four of his colleagues, only to resurface months later on Chinese state television, "confessing" to the crime of smuggling contraband.

The Listening Post's Johanna Hoes travelled to Lam's new home, Taiwan, to speak to him about his time in a secret Chinese prison, the bizarre circumstances of his release, and his stated wish to finish what he started - running a bookstore with a mission.


Lam Wing-kee - former owner and manager, Causeway Bay Books

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