“I am scared,” he said. “I have the virus in front of me, and on my back, I have the legal and administrative power of China.”

His voice trembling with emotion and tears welling in his eyes, he vowed to continue “as long as I am alive in this city.”

“Even death doesn’t scare me!” he said. “So you think I’m scared of the Communist Party?”

(AP) BEIJING — After nearly a week of roaming China’s epidemic-struck city, filming the dead and the sickened in overwhelmed hospitals, the strain of being hounded by both the new virus and the country’s dissent-quelling police started to tell.

Chen Qiushi looked haggard and disheveled in his online posts, an almost unrecognizable shadow of the energetic young man who had rolled into Wuhan on a self-assigned mission to tell its inhabitants’ stories, just as authorities locked the city down almost three weeks ago.

Until he disappeared last week, the 34-year-old lawyer-turned-video blogger was one of the most visible pioneers in a small but dogged movement that is defying the ruling Communist Party’s tightly policed monopoly on information.

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