Jiang Yanyong Wiki – Bio
Jiang Yanyong, a Chinese military medic who revealed the full extent of the 2003 SARS outbreak and was later placed under house arrest for his political outspokenness, has died, a longtime acquaintance and a Hong Kong newspaper said on Tuesday.
Jiang was 91 years old and died of pneumonia Saturday in Beijing, according to human rights activist Hu Jia and the South China Morning Post. News of Jiang’s death and even his name were censored within China, underscoring how he remained a politically sensitive figure even into old age.
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Jiang Yanyong Age
Jiang Yanyong was 91 years old.
Jiang wrote letter stating that there were more SARS cases
Jiang had been chief of surgery at the People’s Liberation Army’s main 301st Hospital in Beijing when the army forced its way through the city to end weeks of student-led pro-democracy protests centered on Tiananmen Square. , which caused the death of hundreds, possibly thousands, of civilians
In April 2003, as the ruling Communist Party suppressed news of the highly contagious Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak, Jiang wrote an 800-word letter stating that there were far more SARS cases than were officially reported by the minister of country health.
Jiang emailed the letter to state broadcaster CCTV and Hong Kong’s Beijing-friendly Phoenix Channel, both of which ignored it. The letter was then leaked to Western media outlets who published it in full, along with reports on the true extent of the outbreak and official Chinese efforts to cover it up.
The letter, along with the death of a Finnish United Nations employee and remarks by renowned doctor Zhong Nanshan, forced the lifting of the government crackdown, prompting the resignation of both the health minister and the mayor of Beijing. Strict containment measures were imposed virtually overnight, helping to contain the spread of the virus that had already begun to appear abroad.
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More than 8,000 people became infected with SARS
In all, more than 8,000 people from 29 countries and territories became infected with SARS, resulting in at least 774 deaths. “Jiang had the conscience of a doctor to treat patients first. He saved so many lives with that letter, without thinking about the consequences,” Hu told The Associated Press.
Chinese authorities later tried to block media access to Jiang, who retired with the rank of major general. He declined an interview with The Associated Press, saying he had been unable to obtain the necessary permission from the Ministry of Defense.
Since 2004, Jiang and his wife have been periodically placed under house arrest for asking communist leaders to reassess the 1989 protests, which remains a taboo subject. That was reminiscent of Jiang’s earlier experiences when he was persecuted as a right-winger under Mao Zedong during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
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Jiang received the Ramon Magsaysay Philippine Public Service Award
In 2004, Jiang received the Ramon Magsaysay Philippine Public Service Award, considered by some to be an Asian version of the Nobel Peace Prize. In the citation, he was praised for breaking “China’s habit of silence and bringing the truth of SARS to light.”
Jiang was prevented from leaving the country and the award was collected by his daughter on his behalf. Three years later, he won the Heinz R. Pagels Award for Human Rights of Scientists from the New York Academy of Sciences, but was again prevented from traveling.
Echoes of Jiang’s experience were heard in China’s approach to the initial outbreak of COVID-19, first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019. Jiang is survived by his wife Hua Zhongwei, a son and a daughter, according to the South China Morning Post.
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