Li Keqiang’s AIDS Advocacy Met With Skepticism

Li Keqiang’s AIDS Advocacy Met With Skepticism

In a letter to Beijing You’an Hospital on World AIDS Day, Premier Li Keqiang “stressed the need for scientific treatment and caring hearts in the fight against HIV/AIDS.”  Xinhua reports:

He also encouraged more volunteers to take part in the country’s HIV/AIDS control work to form a “network” and “firewall” in fighting the virus.

“Just like the untold stars may light up the night sky, HIV/AIDS control needs not only the government authorities to perform their duties, but also the commitment of volunteers in society,” Li said, adding that non-governmental organizations can play an irreplaceable role in communicating with the infected, intervening in high-risk exposures as well as giving consolation and advice to patients.

Li expressed his appreciation to the country’s work in HIV/AIDS control. “The rising tendency of HIV infections has been contained, and that is no easy job in China as a populous developing country,” he wrote.[Source]

But Massoud Hayoun reports for Al Jazeera that it’s unclear whether Premier Li, who has been accused of orchestrating a major AIDS cover-up in Henan Province a decade ago, genuinely sought to help victims:

Lending weight to those still critical of China’s response to HIV/AIDS, a leading awareness activist confirmed to Al Jazeera that dozens of activists had been arrested ahead of World AIDS Day, which Radio Free Asia reported Friday.

The arrests have led to claims that Beijing merely plays lip-service to tackling infection rates.

Noted HIV/AIDS awareness advocate Hu Jia told Al Jazeera that Chinese authorities only allow state-sanctioned awareness activities on World AIDS Day.

“Every year, around Dec. 1, the Communist Party(-led) administration appears very concerned (with HIV/AIDS issues). But the media has never reported all the demonstrations and petitions or the suffering of people with AIDS,” Hu said.[Source]

At Buzzfeed, Kathleen McLaughlin profiles elderly AIDS activist Gao Yaojie, who is now living in New York after being declared an “enemy of the state” for her work supporting AIDS patients in Henan:

She spends her days in bed, sleeping, writing, researching online, and obsessively analyzing what she witnessed in China in a lifetime that bridged tremendous tumult. For hours, she clicks away on her keyboard, emailing contacts back home for information and putting final touches on her newest book. She learned to use a computer at age 69.

[…] Her unplanned journey from Henan province to Harlem began 17 years ago, six months after she retired as a gynecologist and professor at the Henan Chinese Medicine University hospital in Zhengzhou. She went from being a retired grandmother to China’s first and most famous AIDS activist, and became such a thorn in the side of the regime that she eventually fled to New York for safety, away from her family and everyone she knows.

[…] Months before becoming premier, Li held a groundbreaking meeting with AIDS patients from Henan and promised compensation. He reportedly also mentioned Gao. She was not impressed.

“Li Keqiang. I’ve met him,” Gao says dryly. “He is very good at being a government official.”[Source]

Read more about HIV/AIDS in China via CDT.




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