Archive for August, 2011

The Health Care Strike Hard Campaign: “Everyone participate in the sorting out of the law and order problem!”

August 26, 2011

Thanks to The Guardian for the sub-title, and lets begin with the good news. Xinhuanet reported yesterday that:

The Chinese government spent over 245 billion yuan (about 38 billion U.S. dollars) on health care in the first half of this year, according to a report submitted to China’s top legislature on Thursday.
The government’s expenditures on health care during the period represented a sharp increase of 61.4 percent year-on-year.

Now this is tremendous news, so I will forego the pleasure of opening this piece with a particularly tasteless piece of Mandarin/English hospital signage which would have rankled Western feminist sensibilities.

If you are prepared to do your google homework, you would be aware of the many and various structural problems confronting the contemporary health care system in the Celestial Kingdom.

Now, dear reader, I am sure you have had real-life hospital experiences worth submitting. Respectfully, please don’t bother as I have already heard and sniggered at the majority.

Having done a couple of gigs teaching medical English, I have to say that most of the doctors and nurses I met were very pleasant individuals. The doctors were overworked and tired, while the nurses all wanted to improve their English and emigrate to the US. I was also a joy to lounge in the Senior Cadres Boardroom during breaks, sipping tea and talking to some of the cuter class members.

That aside, it was a challenge teaching some of the basics such as taking down a confidential medical history, sharing information with your patient, the billing procedure, etc, and no, I don’t want a f…… drip because I have giardia. Maybe, these challenges was induced by the architecture, which was a combination of Belsen functional and railway restroom.

Lets throw a few statistics around. In 2000, the WHO ranked the world’s health- care systems drawing on 1997 data and using a number of performance indicators, and produced this TABLE. Of the 191 member states assessed, the PRC clocked in at no. 144, being trumped by such shining examples of modern governance as Albania/55, Sri Lanka/76 and Bangladesh/88. Now, China spends about 18% of its total budget on the military and about 9% on health care. When talking about health care expenditure however, one has to factor in elements such as equity, efficiency and wellness outcomes and the big one, corruption in the purchasing department

Personally, I think the above stats are hogwash. China in reality spends about 4.3% of GDP on health care, which is below the 6% of GDP generated by its sex industry. The latter figure is footnote 30 taken from this dense ARTICLE.

According to
The Lancet, (that esteemed medical journal which has banned all submissions by Chinese would-be-contributors because of plagarisation and/or cooked research data) points out that:

“China has about 20% of the world’s population, yet its national health expenditure is only 2% of the total world expenditure on health.2 Although China’s gross domestic product (GDP) has become one of the world’s largest, the total expenditure on health is only 4·3% of GDP, only 44·7% of which is government expenditure.3”

Following Healthcare in China, the non-government contribution comes from:

“Selling drugs whether they are needed or not is also in issue in non-profit hospitals, since they still need a revenue stream in order to maintain the infrastructure. It is estimated that approximately 70 % of the finances of these hospitals are generated from sales income from medicine”.

Okay, my stats appear a bit dodgy, but it is clear that the sex industry captures a greater share of GDP than GDP spent on healthcare, and so it should be, since the latter value adds to social harmony and wellness outcomes, whereas the health care industry has been experiencing considerable disharmony warfare.

The NYT article Chinese Hospitals are Battle Grounds of Discontent HERE provides an excellent account of the new doctor-patient relationship.

“In 2006, the last year the Health Ministry published statistics on hospital violence, attacks by patients or their relatives injured more than 5,500 medical workers….

In June alone, a doctor was stabbed to death in Shandong Province by the son of a patient who had died of liver cancer. Three doctors were severely burned in Shanxi Province when a patient set fire to a hospital office. A pediatrician in Fujian Province was also injured after leaping out a fifth-floor window to escape angry relatives of a newborn who had died under his care”.

In Shenyang, administrators from the 27 local hospitals requested police protection “to keep disgruntled patients and their relatives from attacking the doctors. The decision was quickly reversed after Chinese health experts assailed it, arguing that the police were public servants, not doctors’ personal bodyguards”.

More reading on some of the structural problemsHERE. Now, it could be argued that this new muscular doctor-patient relationship could be attributed to the fact that 100 million folk suffer from mental health problems as reported by the China Times HERE with a pretty good demographic breakdown.

However the above suggestion is misguided, as will become evident if you read this excellent piece by Barbara Demick in the LA Times HERE.

We are talking about a new form of PATIENT POWER, but first a bit more local colour.

“Friends and relatives of a patient who died on the operating table marched on Nanchang Hospital No. 1 brandishing pitchforks and clubs. About 100 staff members, among them young doctors, prepared for the onslaught by arming themselves with long sticks and cans of mace, while the security guards donned police vests and helmets.

Medical personnel advocates complain that the more violent incidents are staged by hired thugs, paid by families of the deceased in hopes of winning compensation from the hospitals. Sometimes the protesters are from the same village or are semi-professionals in causing trouble. The Chinese have even coined a word for the paid protesters: yinao, meaning “medical disturbance.
It has become a very sophisticated system for chasing profits. Whenever somebody dies in a hospital, the yinao will get in touch with the family and offer their services in exchange for 30% to 40%,” said Liu Di, who is setting up a social network for medical professionals.
Liu said the practice arose in the last few years as hospitals became more commercialized. “You see this mostly in second- or third-tier cities where the legal system is less developed.
I always tell my clients, if you start a big disturbance, you’ll get a bigger compensation package. If you start a smaller disturbance, you’ll get a smaller package. And if you don’t do anything, you’ll get nothing,” the man, identified as 42-year-old Xiao Ming, was quoted as saying.”

Why bother with the Medical Complaints Tribunal, when this approach to non-wellness outcomes will pay for your holiday in the Caribbean.

Many thanks to all the link providers.

Apologies. Two links didn’t take, but trust me as I’ve worked with numerous doctors.

China’s Military Striptease

August 17, 2011

Recall this photo widely distributed in China pre-Games 08. Cyborgs or modern samurai warriors a-la-Kurosawa (depending on your frame of reference)on electric scooters designed to scare the bejeesus out of any bad elements intent on non-harmonious behaviour. To the best of my knowledge, this elite counter-terrorism unit on their mopeds was never sighted again during the Games after this photo opportunity.

Cyborgs on Sedways

Now, most Sino military pundits make reference to this text sooner or later, or if discussing PRC naval power and the Spratly’s, shoe horn in some reference to Alfred Thayer Mahan’s The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660 – 1783.

Personally, I think such pundits are misguided, and should instead be referencing the following text:

The Art of the Military Striptease

Now lets recall how China went about announcing the development of its Chengdu J-20 Stealth Fighter in late December 2009. As reported by Christopher Bodeen/Associated Press (and just about everybody else}:

“Photos leaked online that appear to show a prototype of China’s first stealth fighter jet were discussed in state media Wednesday — a move that supports claims the country’s military aviation program is advancing faster than expected.

Both the English and Chinese language editions of the Global Times ran front-page articles on the photos of what appears to be a future J-20 fighter, along with extensive reports on the buzz the pictures have generated overseas.

Photos of the plane appeared on unofficial military news websites and hobbyist blogs last week and were still viewable Wednesday.

The Global Times did not comment on the authenticity of the pictures, but since the government wields extensive control over state media, the report’s appearance and the fact that censors have not removed images from websites suggest a calculated move to leak the information into the public sphere”.

Now these grainy photo releases of a prototype coincided with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates discussions with President Hu Jintai. Forums for China’s military enthusiasts went positively orgasmic, and Western military experts got into panel discussion-wonk mode.

However, I am beginning to smell a rat here. Want to scare the competition to death. Organise a timely photo opportunity and let the pundits and Sino-observers do the rest. Show them a bit of tit, inflame the senses and their fear of China imaginations will do the rest.

Like the cyborgs on sedways during the Games, a hop, step and jump into the near future and your stealth fighter is a fully operational reality. You can do your own google work here, but here in tubbyland, citizens remain unconcerned.

This hodge podge of flying components is probably a greater threat to its handlers and pilots than it is to any US carrier-based air power in the Pacific.

Think of the bragging and reality check provided by the HSC or even the Three Gorges.

In June KTs Military Affairs Desk discussed the appearance of China’s breakout in naval power projection into the Pacific HERE. In particular, we referenced David Axe’s highly detailed analysis of the aircraft carrier the Shi Lang HERE. Basically, Axe concluded this aircraft carrier was a piece of oversized floating JUNK, and Phil Radford in the Asia Times Online TODAY comes to the same conclusion, and also make the point that “… the ship could prove to be more of a diplomatic liability than a military asset”.

While The Diplomat contains numerous articles on recent developments in PRC naval and airpower, half of which are contrary to my sanguine position, think about this.

When Japan signed the instrument of surrender aboard the USS Missouri in Toyko Bay on Sept 2 1945, the fighter bomber flyover consisted of almost 2,000 aircraft. This concrete display of raw military power was the product of an integrated approach to the business of war….science, engineering, r @ d, personnel training, communications, logistical support and just about every other element entering into the war equation. And in subsequent decades, the US has continually drained the tax purse to feed its military industrial complex.

To think that China could GLF itself in this war business to be a match for the US in the Pacific in this, or in the next decade, is simply ludicrous. Grainy photos of a stealth fighter, the Shi Lang’s return to dock in Dalian after its ‘maiden” (sic) voyage (China Daily report), is just so much striptease titillation for an onanistic domestic audience.

If China seriously believes that it can mount a challenge to the US in the Pacific in the near, or even long-term future, it is placing its faith in Viagra and not the real thing.

Alternative title: How to fox the West with photos and news reports.

Farcial Legal Process in the PRC

August 13, 2011

I have been following the legal travails of Matthew Ng an Australian entrepreneur who built a successful online travel company in China for sometime now.

Two comprehensive accounts of the farcial trial of Mr Ng can be read HERE and HERE.

Corporate takeovers PRC style, and the following foregrounds Craig McGregor’s argument about the relationship of the Party to the judiciary:

Chinese authorities yesterday took the further unusual step of revealing that the judgment would be decided not only by the three presiding judges but a committee consisting of 20 of the People’s Court’s most senior cadres, who were not in the room. SMH above

This takeover is right up there with best business practices found in Chongqing, again written up by John Garnaut HERE.

More detail:

How to bounce back from a bad business deal in quotes.

“AUSTRALIAN businessman Matthew Ng broke down in a Chinese court yesterday as he told judges that police promised several times – to him and his wife – that if he handed back assets bought from the Guangzhou government he would be set free”.

“Mr Ng’s lawyer, Chen Youxi, told the court that this showed the true intention of the Guangzhou police had always been to seize back the assets bought in a commercial sale by Mr Ng’s company Et-China from the state-run Lignan Group”.

“Mr Ng’s sister, Wu Lizhen, told The Australian that police and Lignan employees had attempted to coerce his wife, Niki Chow, to convince him to give up his assets”.

Source here

British Intertextuality and the Criminal Classes…

August 13, 2011

The generally unreadable post-structuralist Julia Kristeva argued that no ‘text” can ever be completely free of other ‘texts’.”It will always involved in what she has termed the intertextuality of all writings.” And, as you would expect, turning to Wiki, a dodgy research tool for the lazy, we see Kristeva’s point being expanded by one Stanley Fishe who:

“…made a distinction between what he labels ‘vertical’ and ‘horizontal’ intertextuality. Horizontal intertextuality denotes references that are on the ‘same level’ i.e. when books make references to other books, whereas vertical intertextuality is found when, say, a book makes a reference to film or song or vice versa.”

Now without exploring this nonsense further, let’s accept the fact Kristeva was on to something well before the advent of the internet and social media, where this process of intertextuality has become almost de rigeur.

My favourite fun example of a film referencing a precursor text was perhaps found in Guy Richie’s Lock, Stock and Smoking Barrel with Rory Breaker, the Black drug lord brandishing two pistols, as he leapt out of the van to retrieve his diverted THC supplies.

The Harder They Come

Rory Breaker who bears an uncanny likeness to Little Richard

Now and without making a meal of it, did a search on British crime families and came up with the following:

Meet the Johnson’s: Britain’s No 1 crime family HERE.

How about the Fox family in Glasgow HERE, who sound like total shytes and the neighbours from hell.

British crime families come in every configuration and ethnicity and the list is endless, even if the list is dominated by the ‘gangster chic’of the Krays. And here I recommend Jake Arnott’s truly hilarious depictions of Jack ‘The Hat” McVitie, Joe Meek the psychotic record producer and Lord Teddy Thursby in his trilogy discussed HERE. Arnott does a stellar fictional job in capturing high and low social currents within British culture from the late ’50s forward. Arnott is to be further applauded for the large buggery quotient written into his various narratives, a fact of British cultural life whatever the social class. (Even now, David Cameron is busy burying his pillow-biter boarding school past.)

To be continued with referenced links.

Casey Jones, Fly Ash and The Dept of Contrasting Media Imagery

August 1, 2011

Casey Jones, Casey JR and Cinder the Mutt

As the series of mishaps, a major disaster and spin failures centring around China’s HSR have been forensically autopsied from every direction, including large-scale corruption and massive debt pile-up, it is time to visit the Department of Contrasting Media Imagery.

Billy Jo, Betty Jo et al

The US had a monopoly on particularly crapulous, but totally unobjectionable TV shows in the later ’50s and early 60s. There was Wagon Train, then Casey Jones (first image) and Petticoat Junction (second), all three revolving around horse and railroad themes. Light hearted entertainment for an essentially smug nation enjoying its Eisenhower, pre-Vietnam years.

Yet at the same time, there were important legacies, Clint Eastwood in Wagon Train and that great character actor Dub Taylor (Wally the Fireman in Casey Jones) who went on to feature in killer roles in The Wild Bunch and Bonny and Clyde among others.

Now lets sail the Pacific to the Celestial Kingdom and meet their versions of Casey Jones, Liu Zhijun and Zhang Shuguang.

(“China’s high-speed rail sector had been attempting feats that even pioneers of the technology, such as Japan and Germany, hadn’t dared to undertake – particularly in terms of speed.}

Liu Zhijun, the former railways minister known to industry insiders as “Mad Liu” and since dismissed from his position for “serious breaches of discipline”, had demanded that frontline staff continually to increase trial speeds. On December 3 last year, for example, the new generation CRH380AL Harmony train – which can reach a maximum speed of 486.1 kilometres an hour – was being tested on the Zaozhuang to Bangbu stretch of the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed line. Liu was in the cab for the trip and is said to have ordered the driver to reach and maintain the maximum speed, to the terror of a foreign engineer present, who pleaded with them to slow down.

“….There’s no question that in the next five to 10 years, China’s high speed trains will be running at speeds of over 400 kilometres per hour,” said Zhang Shuguang, formerly deputy chief engineer at the Ministry of Railways, and one of Liu’s favourites. “And in the next 20 years, we may break 500 kilometres an hour.”

Zhang even described the “magical” feeling of high-speed train travel. Ride a train moving at 350 kilometres an hour and imagine the carriage isn’t there – you’re flying at one hundred metres a second, sitting one and a half metres up in the air.”

Thanks to Zu Zongshu and Chinadialogue, and I thoroughly recommend his every paragraph.

Now, aside from the fact that our Sino-Casey Jones were imbibing public funds for private purposes before being stood down, you have to ask yourself whether they were also barking mad, crazy, demented, or any other adverbial descriptor found in the thesaurus.

Forget sound engineering principles, trial runs designed to test back-up safety procedures, iron out bugs, etc. While both sound like a pair of totally deranged CEOs with serious amphetamine problems, there are other strong>clinical possibilities such as Evel Knieval Syndrome!

Either way, both should have been restricted to meccano sets when in need of a land speed fix.

Let’s look at the geographical extent of their empire and their problematic legacy to date.

Thanks to WSJ.

As pointed out by Dirk India Private Ltd, “High Performance Concrete requires High Performance Cementitious Material” , and China Rail has used low quality fly ash in the laying of the HSR rail lines, based on reporting by the South China Morning Post article dated 5.7 2011 by Stephen Chen.

Read the Post’s latest August 2 2011 analysis HERE in its entirety and weep.

And if you have a mechanical engineering bent and seek some historical information about this binding agent, you can visit The Fly Ash Resource Centre HERE.

Technical overload issues.

Restrict yourself to the two articles by the South China Morning Post. You will still be ahead of the game.

Fly ash is a superfine by-product of burning coal for electricity

Living in China and having issues with shit water quality, well here are the folk to sort your problems China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research.
And who will have a hand in signing-off on the South-North Water Diversion Project. I couldn’t relocate the committee photo, but this engineer infested site is worth a few minutes, even it only for a few cynical laughs. And you know my VIEWS on engineers.
In fact, the more time I spend cruising this site, the more I am tempted to put out Interpol Alerts on the whole bunch.