On the occasion of the first anniversary of Li Wenliang’s death, thousands of Chinese paid tribute to him this Saturday, February 6 on social networks. He died in February 2020 from Covid-19 after contracting it from an infected patient. An ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital, Li had shared with colleagues on social networks, his concerns about the spread of a new coronavirus similar to SARS in December 2019.

He had been summoned by the police, who accused him of spreading “rumors”. His death had sparked a wave of sadness and anger in the country. Chinese Internet users criticized on this occasion the management of the crisis by the Chinese authorities, accused of having lacked transparency.

Virtual tributes

Li’s personal page on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, remains one of the few places where internet users evoke the trauma of the outbreak’s beginnings, when millions of residents of Wuhan and Hubei province had been subjected to draconian confinement.

Thousands of messages poured in on Saturday on the first anniversary of the young doctor’s death, with many Internet users recounting what had become of their own existence.

“Forever in the hearts of the Chinese”

“Dr Li, the weather is great today where I live …. Everyone around me is doing their best in life, everything is fine, happy lunar new year,” wrote a user on Weibo, in a Comment on Li’s latest post, which had elicited over a million reactions, mostly after his death.

“I thought everyone would forget about you a year later,” added another net surfer. “I was wrong, you will live forever in the hearts of the Chinese”. In contrast, no sign of commemoration was visible outside Wuhan Central Hospital, where flowers and photos were left a year ago by locals paying homage to Li.