RIOT CAR I was just speaking to my roomie, a Chinese college professor, about the issue of protests in China after watching a movie about the Irish Republican Army and unrest in Belfast, Ireland. I posed the notion that China might see more disturbances as the gap between rich and poor widens. He retorted that riots were rare and that the government would not tolerate any dissent. I then asked him to start reading the news instead of watching anti-Japanese documentaries. Besides the dog owner drama of late here is a recap of one of several large public displays that have made headlines: The New York Times reported that some 2,000 people mobbed and ransacked a hospital in southwestern China on Friday in a dispute over medical fees and shoddy health care practices. The area, Guang’an in Sichuan province was under tight police control Sunday in the wake of the unrest and at least five people were detained on suspicion of instigating a riot. The riots broke out when a three year old boy. poisoned by pesticides, died after his grandfather left to raise money for his treatment. It is common practice in China to deny care if some money is not paid to the hospital up front. “An official report from the New China News Agency confirmed that a dispute over medical fees had occurred at the hospital, but also said that doctors there had treated the boy even though the grandfather had not been able to pay the $82 bill.” Locals then instigated one of the 17,900, social incidents recorded this year by breaking windows, destroying hospital equipment and overturning police vehicles. The state-run Sichuan Daily newspaper reported Sunday that local authorities were looking into the matter and “attached great importance” to investigating the causes of the boy’s death. According to articles: “Providing better access to health care and education and reducing the country’s growing urban-rural wealth gap have become part of President Hu Jintao’s pledge to build a harmonious society. But the government has provided relatively little money for hospital care in poor areas. It has experimented with social insurance for people who do not work for major companies, including most of the 800 million classified as peasants, but has not introduced a national plan.” As you know from recent articles about Coffee, Ms Yue and others in the League of Extraordinary Chinese Women that most of them, now worsening, are going to die for lack of personal resources. My roommate, sadly, is wrong. While China has announced it will double aid to African countries in the next decade, in order to gain access to natural resources, it would do well to begin aid to Chinese human resources that have fueled the country’s tremendous growth.

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