Chinese MMA Fighter Hits Back After Threat of Harm to Diary Author

wuhan-diary.jpg Writer Fang Fang's "Wuhan Diary" recording the tragic struggle of central Chinese city during the coronavirus lockdown, shown in the translated German version.
Hoffmann und Campe

Mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Xu Xiaodong on Friday launched a blistering attack on a Beijing-based tai chi teacher he defeated in 2017, uttering a string of obscenities after he called on Wuhan's martial arts community to attack the 60-year-old author of the controversial "Wuhan Diary."

Beijing-based martial artist Lei Lei had earlier piled on to a storm of online abuse with physical threats against  writer Fang Fang, whose diary from under lockdown during the COVID-19 outbreak in the central Chinese city is being published outside China later this year.

"She wrote a diary which has become a tool used by foreigners to attack China," Lei said in a video he posted to social media, and called on martial artists to "use their fists for justice" and punish Fang Fang.

Xu said Lei was a stupid c*** whom he had allowed to get off too lightly in their short-lived fight in 2017, during which Lei was quickly overpowered and pinned to the floor, where Xu repeatedly pummelled his head, according to online footage of the duel.

"Fang Fang is a petite woman of fifty-something; she's not very strong," Xu said in a video. "I've read [Wuhan Diary]. It's mostly full of praise and encouragement. There's just a small amount of criticism and complaint, and that is all true and realistic."

"It truly never occurred to me that so many people would start abusing her," he said.

"Let's face it, the martial arts world is full of stupid c***s, but for you, Lei Lei, to call on Wuhan martial artists to go and attack a woman in her fifties for writing something, have you no shame?"

No censorship of violence-inciting video

Lei said his defeat at Xu's hands on April 27, 2017 had changed the world of martial arts in China.

"It ushered in a new era, and meant that there wasn't a member of the martial arts world willing to stand up for their country," Lei Lei said.

"Now, I am calling on the Wuhan martial arts community," he said. "Fang Fang hasn't left China yet, and she hasn't left Wuhan, so you should denounce Fang Fang."

"Please use your fists for justice and punish this Chinese traitor."

A lawyer surnamed Zhang told RFA that it was significant that Lei's video hadn't been deleted by government censors, given that it incites violence against another person.

"Anyone threatening or insulting another person online ... is liable to be charged with picking quarrels and stirring up trouble, according to an interpretation issued by the Supreme People's Court in 2013," Zhang said.

"This kind of speech act should have been flagged up, deleted and dealt with, but it hasn't so far," he said on Friday, laying the blame squarely with the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

"They don't want to do anything themselves but they are allowing this to spread online so that people who are much dumber than they are will [attack Fang Fang]," he said.

"Whose fault is that?"

Online abuse

Repeated requests for comment made to the Beijing municipal police department went unanswered at the time of writing on Friday.

Lei's incitement to violence against Fang Fang comes after the author warned that she faced a torrent of online abuse as a result of "Wuhan Diary."

"I'm being subjected to abuse for everything I say now," Fang Fang wrote on the social media platform Weibo earlier this month. "I have really had a lesson in online violence."

"The extreme left is really powerful," she wrote, comparing the attacks against her to the political turmoil of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).

"It's like a virus itself, which spreads from person to person."

Fang Fang began the diary on Jan. 25, day three of the city-wide lockdown that left millions of people confined to their homes.

She talked about her friends and family, how uncomfortable it is to wear a mask, and the deaths of coronavirus patients, as well as poking fun at her nationalist critics who crowded onto Maoist platforms to criticize her.

It was updated almost daily until March 24, when she finished it with the words "I have fought the best battle of all."

"Without their encouragement," she wrote of her critics, "someone lazy like me might have let far more time elapse before writing [the diary]."

She took a further potshot at her detractors on March 24, asking rhetorically "So what did you do during the great catastrophe of 2020? Oh, I went crazy attacking Fang Fang."

Wuhan Diary will be published in English by Harper Collins in August, translated by Michael Berry, according to a pre-order page on

Wang Fang graduated from the Chinese department of Wuhan University. She chaired the Hubei Writers Association from 2007 to 2018, and won the prestigious Lu Xun Literary Prize in 2010.

Reported by Wong Siu-san and Sing Man for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


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