Confined to Wuhan: a diary screaming nationalists

Confinée à Wuhan: un journal intime fait hurler les nationalistes

BEIJING| “Traitor” : a writer in china who has kept a diary of confined to Wuhan, at the epicenter of the COVID-19, is accused of giving grist to the critics of China by publishing his story abroad.

Aged 64 years, from a wealthy family of intellectuals, Fang Fang is a novelist well-known in his country. Built into the system, she won the most prestigious literary award in china in 2010.

Wuhanaise, she began a journal soon after the containment of the metropolis on the 23rd of January, and publishes it online. Completed end of march after 60 entries, it recounts the fear, the anger and the hopes of 11 million people.

His content ? Story of hospitals saturated who refuse the sick, his daily confined, the death of close friends, of mutual assistance between people, or even the simple pleasure of seeing the sun illuminate her room.

“A doctor friend told me : we doctors all know since a moment that there is a human to human transmission of the disease, we have reported that to our superiors, but nobody told the people,” she wrote on the 38th day of confinement.

His chronic subjective as a writer, presented as non-journalistic, has been followed by millions of Chinese who are interested in a different point of view on the news, in the face of the media is very controlled.

But Fang Fang has become controversial.

As his journal will be published in the coming months in several foreign languages, including English, German and French. In France, it will be released on September 9 in Stock under the title: “Wuhan, a city close”.


Main criticism : to provide with this translation as a pretext for foreigners to criticize the chinese government. Especially in the United States, who accuse Beijing of late reaction in the face of the epidemic.

“An american media says already wanting to use the book to bring to China. Bravo Fang Fang, you give to the western countries weapons to take on China,” quipped a user on the social network Weibo.

“You’re telling and your kind of traitor,” he concludes.

“For how much did you sold your journal ?”, asks another commentator, who is accused of enriching themselves on the approximately 3900 deaths of Wuhan.

Another element that has ignited the web : the presentation politicized the work done by his american publisher HarperCollins.

Greeting to a story “mixing the strange and the dystopian”, it boasts a writer who railed against the “political problems systemic” to an “authoritarian country”.

The translation of the book in full confrontation with Washington “is not really of very good taste,” said Hu Xijin, the influential editor-in-chief of the tabloid nationalist Global Times.

“Finally, this will be the Chinese, including those who supported Fang Fang at the start, which will have to pay the price of his fame in the West”, he says on Weibo, attracting more than 190,000 “likes”.


The Global Times evokes a narrative that is “partial,” which “exposes the dark side of Wuhan”.

Criticized, or even insulted, Fang Fang says she is the victim of “cyberviolence” of the nationalist – even if a number of users lambda criticize it also.

Result : several publishers chinese interested in the original publication of the text of Fang Fang hesitated in front of the controversy, ” says the writer.

“Why would it not this book ? Just because some may use us ? (…) If people really read my journal, they will find all the effective measures that China has taken against the epidemic,” argues in a response published on the website of the magazine Caixin.

It promises also to pay all of his fees “to families of the caregivers died”.

Questioned by the AFP, his French publisher Stock, justified Tuesday the publication of the journal by its “documentary interest”, about an event “that looks like it may be a page in the history of humanity”.

In the Face of this stoning online, a lot of people have flown to the rescue of the author on Weibo, saying the attacks are “disproportionate”.

“Fang Fang owes nothing to nobody”, notes a commentator. “You are free to write a journal that goes against what she says, translate it and publish it abroad !”

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