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Tragic case of a doctor’s murder by a patient, one of many in China

23 Aug

China’s medical system has serious problems in meeting people’s needs and the most serious symptom is a troubling spate of murders and attacks on doctors and nurses by patients. New Yorker has an indepth look at a particular tragic case where a young doctor was killed in his hospital by a frustrated patient who’d been turned away after repeated visits, something that has happened frequently over the past few years. It’s a good article that gives a profound account of the incident and a clear overview of the China’s health system and its problems, including a spate of attacks on doctors and nurses.

China’s society has become so full of suspicion, anger and frustration that people often resort to violent means to address their problems. It’s no different for shoddy medical treatment, whether real or perceived. Murders of doctors and attacks on hospital staff have become common, but the actual statistics, as mentioned in the New Yorker piece, are still shocking – A survey by the China Hospital Management Association found that violence against medical personnel rose an average of twenty-three per cent each year between 2002 and 2012. By then, Chinese hospitals were reporting an average of twenty-seven attacks a year, per hospital.

Some of the underlying reasons for the murder are common problems that afflict hospitals across the country – inadequate facilities, overworked doctors, inefficient treatment and excessive bureaucracy.
Facilities, staff and resources are unequally distributed, resulting in too few good treatment available to people, resulting in serious overcrowding by patients and overwork for doctors and patients. The medical system is one of China’s most serious social issues that needs to be fixed before China could ever really become a so-called superpower.

The end of the article is telling: I asked Wang Dongqing whom he blamed for his son’s death. “I blame the health-care system,” he said. “Li Mengnan was just a representative of this conflict. Incidents like this have happened many times. How could we just blame Li?


China’s multiple languages

26 May

China has a multitude of languages and dialects besides Mandarin, with Cantonese and Shanghainese being the more well-known ones. However, the hardest language seems to be Wenzhounese, which is spoken in Wenzhou, a city in Zhejiang Province. So difficult, it’s been deemed a “devil language” and has even been mistaken as Korean, by a Korean
I’ve heard Zhejiang people speak before, and I swear it sounded a bit like Korean. It’s good to know my ears weren’t tricking me as I was probably overhearing Wenzhounese then. Amazingly, the writer of the second article, a Wenzhounese, says that people in Wenzhou, which together with its surrounding areas have a population 9 million, sometimes can’t even understand each other clearly.
And of course, other cities in Zhejiang also have dialects, which is similar to Shanghainese in a way, being part of the Wu group. I’ve even read that Zhejiang, due to its mountainous and coastal terrain, is said to have a different dialect in every village and district.

Wenzhou is famous for its intrepid entrepreneurs, though they have been going through some hard times, as well as where a tragic high-speed train crash happened in 2011.

Taiwan keeping up the anti-Philippines rhetoric

23 May

A few more days have passed and the tensions between Taiwan and Philippines have continued, with self-righteousness and pity starting to rear its ugly head. For decent explanations of the tension, especially where Taiwan went wrong, see here and here. Taiwan fishermen apparently have a reputation for straying into foreign waters to fish illegally, and they’ve kept this up with the Japanese despite a recent fishing agreement that grants Taiwan a wider body of water to fish in. In Taiwan, at least there are some people who like these trying to soften tensions despite the over-the-top rhetoric from politicians and the media.

China travel and Chinese tourists

21 Mar

The biggest tourist spenders in Taiwan are, not Japanese, not Americans, not Koreans, but mainland Chinese. I know mainland tourists like to buy a lot of stuff in Taiwan, even from convenience stores like the one near my company. But to outspend Japanese, Singaporeans, and other tourists by a significant amount every day, that’s quite surprising.

The New York Times’ frugal traveler takes a trip up the Yangtze on just US$50 per day. He seems to be having a pleasant trip.