jailed for three months for calling a brand of medicinal wine “poison”, has issued an apology on Weibo after being interrogated by police for 12 hours which resulted in an apparent mental breakdown.Chinese physician, who was
Tan Qindong (谭秦东), a doctor in Guangzhou, was grabbed by Inner Mongolian police from his own home after publishing an article online which stated that the popular “Hongmao Medicinal Wine” was toxic. He was held in jail for three months without charge, until news of his detainment broke in April, causing an uproar on Chinese social media. Responding to public outrage, officials urged local police to release Doctor Tan and review his case.
After getting out of jail, Tandumpedall the clothes that he had worn behind bars, hoping that it would rid him of his bad luck. In a subsequentinterview, he said that he did not regret writing the article. “One has to speak up truth for at least once in his life, especially as a doctor,” he said.
However, less than a month after his release, Tan was called into questioningagain by Inner Mongolian police on May 11th—a session which lasted for 12 hours straight. After the interrogation, Tan began showing symptoms of having a mental breakdown. He locked himself in his room and began slapping himself and ramming his head into the wall. He was then rushed to a hospital where he was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
A week later, on May 17th, Tan issued an apologyusing his wife’s Weibo account, stating that his article which described the medicinal wine as “poison” was inaccurate, adding that he would like to apologize to the manufacturing company Hongmao. An hour later, the company issued a statementaccepting Tan’s apology and saying that they were dropping their lawsuit against him.
Hongmao Medicinal Wine
Hongmao Medicinal Wine is a traditional Chinese medical tonic made of 67 different Chinese herbs and ingredients including leopard bones. It claims to be able to cure heart disease and arthritis. The product’s advertisements have been banned 2,630 times by local authorities from 25 provinces and sales of the product have been suspended more than ten times for false advertising and exaggerating its benefits over the past decade.
After reports about Doctor Tan’s detention ignited public outrage online, the State Food and Drug Administration ordered the Inner Mongolian FDA to review all advertising applications by the company. Animal activists also demanded that the company explain how they managed to obtain leopard bones and use them as one of the wine’s ingredients. However, the local government has not yet released any information regarding the investigation.
A renowned playwright in China, Shi Hang, commented on his Weibo accountabout this incident, “Years later, we will still remember this day when Doctor Tan issued an apology on Weibo and Hongmao’s CEO liked his post. This says enough about the society we live in, and maybe even predicts our future.” Shi’s post has since been censored by Weibo.