Wuhan Diary: A Chilling Insiders Story

  • Jun 18, 2020 AEST
  • Team Kalkine
Wuhan Diary: A Chilling Insiders Story


  • Wuhan Diary, an online social media 60-days narration of Wuhan lockdown translated and compiled into book, provides lessons to avoid the second wave of infection
  • Criticism of Chinese officials’ indifference towards citizens is a common point for Black Lives Matter Protest (US) and Wuhan Diary (China).
  • Readers are instigated to question if trade and international competition holds higher significance over people’s health and interests. 

World has spent several months under the dark shadow of pandemic, and yet enigma surrounding Coronavirus and its origin seems to be never-ending. A plethora of conspiracy theories have unfolded ever since the outbreak; meanwhile, many countries continue their struggles to wave off economic and financial effects. 

Notably, the US-China spat over the source of detrimental COVID-19 and  Hong Kong national security laws have accelerated bilateral tensions. Donald Trump has threatened to sever all ties with Beijing as the US also increased trade barriers for goods imported from the Asian country. 

Amidst growing apprehensions and doubts underlying the pandemic, the first-hand account of an eyewitness about the contagion since its inception days seems to be garnering attention from across the world. English translation chronicling the description from Fang Fang Social media account titled “Wuhan Diary: Dispatches from a Quarantined City” narrates the unsettling tale encountered in Wuhan. 

Translated by Michael Berry, the book was published by Harper Collins on 25 May 2020. Not only the content but also threats received by its translator culminated in enhanced attention towards the book. 

With this backdrop, let us look at the what lies inside the contrasting white-red-black theme which symbolises grave warnings for the upcoming context. 

A Glimpse Inside the Book 

Newly released Wuhan Diary penned by Fang Fang is the compilation of lockdown description in its early phase when it was just Wuhan witnessing stifled daily activities. The impactful message delivered by the book touches both China and the Western world. It questions the sloppy attitude of China and distrust by the West that culminated in the plight of the city.

Fang documented the period of struggle and flaw that Wuhan witnessed during 60 days of Hubei Province lockdown. The psychological impact of restrictions which residents went through as they experienced a series of emotions ranging from fear, horror, anger, and grief are vehemently articulated in the narration. 

Fang adopted fierce criticism approach as she highlighted the incompetency of Chinese officials concerning misinformation and negligent style adopted by authorities to handle the cataclysm. The first-person account also shed light on the priority of officials to focus on economy and business at the cost of society. 

The book seems to invite the readers to question if the government, officials, and authorities are serving justice to the ordinary person. The author also mentions Dr Li Wenliang, who was the first to warn about the virus and later died after contracting COVID-19. The criticism, sometimes in combination with humour, in the book seems to elicit different emotions of the reader. 

A Debacle Around the Book

Covid-19 chronicles narrated by Chinese author have been surrounded by vast range of criticism, attracting debates between its supporters and opposers. Many Chinese nationalists have touted Fang Fang as a traitor as she went ahead to describe the incompetency and how the country downplayed outbreak severity. The polarity in opinions was however maintained as many also felt that the writer outlined the actual scenario. 

Fang, who is an official writer, accumulated substantial popularity with her accounts as a dependable information source. People’s belief on scarcity of reliable data and news in China has further intensified the world’s attention on Fang’s narration. 

The controversy and the backlashes by nationalist netizens further aggravated as the accounts translated in English and went on pre-sale on Amazon. The international edition has sparked another round of fury regarding the book. 

It is opined that Fang’s Wuhan Diary would provide more chance to the western world and China’s opponent to point the fingers at the country.

Many also accused the book of being biased in nature, citing that while it highlights the flaws and failings of many Chinese officials, it did not praise swift and innumerable efforts that underwent to improve the situation. 

ALSO READ: Can economies really cut Trade ties with China?

As for the readers of Western Countries, it pacifies their desire to some extent to unearth the events that surrounded the pandemic during its early phase. 

Implications around Nook and Corner

While China started lifting the lockdown since early April, business activities have spurred in full force currently. Meanwhile, other countries are reopening their economy gradually.

Wuhan Diary brings back memories for Wuhan residents and a new source of information for others. 

While political implications of the book remain in a conundrum, the psychological impacts on the reader are expected to become soon evident. The life in the early stages of outbreak nevertheless teaches the world a coping mechanism as the reader encounters pitfalls that can accentuate problems and worsen the situation. 

Ignorance of officials and their indifferent attitude has been a subject of protests in the US with the death of George Floyd. Similar attitude in the Asian country, as indicated in the book might denote the rampant insignificance of citizens’ plight across the earth. 


Wuhan Diary providing an unforgettable impression of the suffering, and most importantly, undeniable efforts and struggles of people underpins an in-depth glimpse on the deadly pandemic. While the world might have taken significant steps forward, restarting activities and rebooting the economy, the fear of second wave of infection still lingers over countries.

First-hand description in the book may come handy to avoid repeating the same mistakes that culminated in a global misfortune.


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