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You are reading about: Henan

By Wang Shuping, published: September 27, 2012   It isn’t new. It’s the story of how tens of thousands ofimpoverishedvillagers and hospital patients were infected with HIV through contaminated blood in mid 1990s in Henan province, China. Entire villages and families were wiped out and many lives wrecked. And two decades later, the pain continues and has been documented here by retired Professor of literature and documentary maker Ai Xiaoming (艾晓明) in 2006. Recently I came across the account of Dr. Wang Shuping (王淑平), the very medical professional who first discovered the epidemic, alerted health authorities, and struggled in vain to stop the epidemic that would go on to infect approximately 300,000 people, mostly the rural poor, according to Zhang Ke (张可), a Chinese AIDS researcher […]


Dream of Ding Village by Yan Lianke is the Man Asian Literary Prize nominated story of a small village in Henan as it is ravaged by the AIDS epidemic that spread through central China nearly a decade ago (and continues to devastate communities to this day). Even though it is a work of fiction, the author is a respected anthropologist who did a large amount of field work prior to writing this book. It is a tale of the gov’t’s failure to prevent/control the spread of the disease and inability to provide basic assistance to those afflicted. It is also an interesting view of how village life is portrayed in Chinese literature and the ways in which extended families operate in rural life. The story […]


By Xu Zhiyong Dr. Xu Zhiyong is a lecturer of law at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, and one of the founders of Open Constitution Initiative (公盟) that offers legal assistance to petitioners and rights defenders, and has been repeatedly harassed, shut down and persecuted. In 2010 it changed its name to simply “Citizen”. Just weeks ago in May 29, Dr. Xu posted a blog post titled China’s New Civil Movement to renew his call for a “new civic movement are a free China with democracy and the rule of law, a civil society of justice and happiness, and a new national spirit of freedom, fairness and love.” The post has since been deleted by the authorities, and he himself was taken away by […]


This post is continued from yesterday. The book Poor Economics is the source for these general ideas, I’m simply discussing how they would apply to China’s context. Culture shifts, not culture shift Cultures often create systems of reciprocity that create some kind of “fairness” within the family. However, as the authors point out, just because one part of a culture changes doesn’t mean the corresponding pieces change as well, and the system becomes unfair in a way that continues poverty. One instance of this would be in family arrangements. Traditionally the grandparents help their children raise the next generation, and children also traditionally support their parents when they reach old age. While these two may seem to be connected, in modern China grandparents have been expected to […]


For the past few days we’ve been looking at migrant workers, and issues surrounding the hukou system, including left behind children, and forgotten grandparents and wives. In China’s medical system there are a number of drugs that treat chronic conditions (like TB and AIDs), that are given out to sick patients at little or no cost. While this in itself should be applauded, this program is unfortunately tied to one’s hukou and therefore restricts the person’s movement. If the person leaves their village, it will be incredibly difficult for them to receive their much needed medications. I believe that this policy was created with the intention of controlling the spread of diseases (which is a good intention), but that this has had some very troubling results. In the past this system […]


At a conference I attended a few months ago, a Chinese professor described rural villagers as “sacrificing their youth, for the sake of the cities”. It struck a chord with me as I pictured the rural villages I had grown familiar with during my bike rides down dirt roads in Guangxi. Every village was full of children and grandparents, but was missing nearly everyone from 20-60 years old. It’s as if this entire group left to work in the cities, giving their best years to a develop a region where they cannot reap the full rewards of their work. While the left behind children are a pressing topic of discussion, the other family members are no less effected by the social hole left by migrant […]


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