Chinese scientist protests after being locked out of his lab

Virologist Zhang Yongzhen
Virologist Zhang Yongzhen Copyright AP Photo/Dake Kang
Copyright AP Photo/Dake Kang
By AP & Euronews
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A collaborator confirmed to AP on Monday the protest was taking place.


A Chinese virologist has staged a sit-in protest after authorities locked him out of his laboratory.

Zhang Yongzhen was the first scientist to publish a sequence of the virus that causes COVID-19 in early January 2020 despite a lack of government permission.

Yongzhen wrote in an online post on Monday that he and his team were suddenly notified they were being evicted from their lab.

It was the latest in a series of setbacks, demotions and ousters since he first published the sequence.

The move shows how the Chinese government continues to pressure and control scientists, seeking to avoid scrutiny of its handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

News of the protest spread widely on Chinese social media, attracting public attention.

The Shanghai Public Health Clinical Centre said in a statement that Zhang’s lab was being renovated and was closed for “safety reasons". It said that Zhang’s team was given an alternative laboratory space.

But Zhang said his team was not offered another lab until after they were evicted and that the lab didn't meet safety standards for conducting their research.

In protest, he had been sitting outside his lab since Sunday despite pouring rain.

Zhang, when reached by phone on Tuesday, said it was “inconvenient” for him to speak, but a collaborator confirmed to AP on Monday the protest was taking place.

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