A Chinese journalist who had been doing critical reporting from Wuhan went missing on Thursday evening, and his friends and family suspect the government is silencing him, CNN reported.The disappearance of Chen Qiushi comes in the wake of the massive outpouring of grief and anger in China following the death of Li Wenliang, a 34-year-old ophthalmologist at a hospital in Wuhan, the city at the epicenter of the outbreak. On the Chinese social media site WeChat, Li had told other doctors months ago of seven cases of a SARS-like coronavirus linked to the Wuhan seafood market, which is currently believed to be the source of the coronavirus outbreak.Li was reprimanded by Wuhan police in early January for spreading "illegal and false" information about the coronavirus, and for having "severely disrupted social order."Li contracted coronavirus himself and ultimately passed away last Thursday. His death sparked severe backlash in China over the lack of free speech both online and offline.The government attempted to crack down on these online protests, even censoring hashtags used on the Chinese social media platform Weibo. The crackdown worried Chen's friends and family, who worried that China might take action due to his extensive and detailed reporting on the horrific conditions in Wuhan. On Friday, after not hearing from Chen since the previous day, his mother uploaded a video online explaining that her son had disappeared. "I'm here to beg everyone online, especially friends in Wuhan to help find Qiushi – find out what's going on with him," she pleaded. It is believed that Chen was quarantined by the police. However, he did not exhibit any symptoms of the virus.If these allegations are true, then it would not be the first time Chen has been silenced by the government.In August, he reported on the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, but according to Chen himself, after he reported that the protestors were mostly peaceful and not rioters, the Chinese government recalled him, repeatedly questioned him and deleting his social media accounts.However, he had set up accounts on Twitter and YouTube – which are banned in China, but are accessible there through virtual private networks – and vowed to remain active and outspoken despite the efforts to silence him.Chinese media has not reported on Chen's disappearance, according to CNN, because Chen is a "taboo topic" that the Chinese people are prohibited from discussing. However, more and more people are discussing him now than ever, using a hashtag with his name on Chinese social media, fueling the growing protests in China against the lack of freedom of speech.As one Weibo user said, according to CNN, "He is someone who dares to go to Wuhan to report the truest conditions when the outbreak is at its most severe stage. He is a hero. And he has gone missing."Reuters contributed to this report.