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8-Year-Old with HIV Banned from Chinese Village

8-Year-Old with HIV Banned: A small village in Sichuan has held a referendum for the banishment of an 8-year-old boy infected with HIV. The villagers unanimously agreed that the boy needs to be removed from the village and taken elsewhere to guarantee their own ‘safety’.

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One of the top ten trending topics on Sina Weibo of December 17th 2014 is the case of a young HIV-infected boy expelled from his village (#艾滋男童被联名驱离#). Over 200 inhabitants from a village in Sichuan province (Xichong country) have signed a joint referendum on the banishment of the 8-year-old.

Journalist Guo Hongxin from Sichuan News reports that the inhabitants of a small Sichuan village have unanimously agreed that an 8-year-old HIV-infected boy needs to be removed from the village and taken elsewhere to guarantee the ‘safety’ of the villagers.

1The town meeting on December 7, 2014.

The boy, named Kunkun, was diagnosed with HIV in 2011 after he received hospital treatment for an accident. Doctors determined the boy had contracted the disease in his mother’s womb. The news of Kunkun’s condition soon spread like wildfire through the village.

Kunkun was raised by his ‘grandfather’ Luosheng, after Luosheng’s son and his girlfriend (Kunkun’s birth mother) left him in the village at nine months old. Luosheng’s son and Kunkun’s birth mother both work and live in Guangzhou city. Since the two are not officially married, Luosheng has no official family relation to Kunkun.

Although Luosheng’s son used to send money from Guangzou every month, he stopped contacting Luosheng and Kunkun once he heard of the boy’s condition.

Kunkun does not attend local school, as he is not accepted there. Parents feared the boy might bite their children or infect them in any way by touching.

3Kunkun, shunned from the small community.

On December 7th 2014, a special town meeting was arranged to discuss the status of the boy, proposing a referendum to send him away and arrange official facilities to care of him. 203 villagers signed the referendum, including grandfather Luosheng, who worries over the boy’s future due to his own old age and impoverished circumstances.

The village chief has stated that Kunkun will not be send away immediately, as the village leaders will first need to find an institution that will take him in. “Kunkun wants to go to school, but the school here is afraid to accept him. If Kunkun goes to school here, the other children won’t come anymore,” he says: “So we cannot solve the problem of his education here.” The village chief reaffirms that he hopes to find an organization that will take in Kunkun, and can provide him with medicine and schooling (Sichuan News 2014).

2The village referendum

Weibo netizens collectively express their concern for the mental well-being of Kunkun, who is already on his own at such a young age. Some netizens emphasize that the villagers’ fear for contracting HIV by normal contact is ungrounded, as other children will not be infected if they simply go to school with Kunkun. HIV is transmitted through body fluids such as blood, semen or breast milk.

It is estimated that 780,000 people are living with HIV in China. In 2011, 28,000 people died from AIDS. Since 2009, AIDS has been the leading cause of death among infectious diseases in China. Especially the provinces of Yunnan, Guangxi, Henan, Sichuan, Xinjiang and Guangdong have the highest rate of HIV occurrence (Avert). HIV is a sensitive topic in Chinese society, as there is still a lot of stigma and discrimination around those who are infected. China’s First Lady Peng Liyuan has raised awareness on HIV through her activities as Ambassador for HIV/AIDS Prevention. The awareness and prevention of HIV are still a priority according to China’s 12th Five Year Plan. The trending story of Kunkun was published in a state-run newspaper – no coincidence, as Kunkun’s case has got people talking about HIV, which is exactly what the government wants. Raising awareness of HIV is too late for him and his fellow villagers, as the decision has already been made: Kunkun is no longer welcome.

– by Manya Koetse

The story of Kunkun as reported in the Sichuan News/People’s Daily.

©2014 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Rosalie

    December 17, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    This is extremely sad and a narrow-minded & uneducated reaction, but unfortunatly that is sadly still common (all over the world). For his sake it’ll probably be better if he left anyway, so he could actually attend school somewhere. I know that is easier said that done and if only he had a place to go. Sad sad sad.

    • Henk Van Tilburg

      December 21, 2014 at 7:44 pm

      SAD, the solution should be the education people of the town.
      If they need a permanent solution? I will adopted him… and give him a good life

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China and Covid19

Fangcang Forever: China’s Temporary Covid19 Makeshift Hospitals To Become Permanent

China’s temporary ‘Fangcang’ shelter hospitals are here to stay.

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A new term has been added to China’s pandemic lexicon today: Permanent Fangcang Hospital. Although China’s ‘Fangcang’ shelter hospitals are, by definition, temporary, these healthcare facilities to isolate and treat Covid patients are now becoming a permanent feature of China’s Zero-Covid approach.

Over the past few days, Chinese authorities have emphasized the need for China’s bigger cities to build or renovate existing makeshift Covid hospitals, and turn them into permanent sites.

So-called ‘Fangcang hospitals’ (方舱医院, square cabin hospitals) are large, temporary makeshift shelter hospitals to isolate and treat Covid-19 patients. Fangcang shelter hospitals were first established in China during the Wuhan outbreak as a countermeasure to stop the spread of the virus.

January 5 2022, a Fangcang or Isolation Point with over 1000 separate isolations rooms is constructed in Baqiao District of Xi’an (Image via Renmin Shijue).

They have since become an important part of China’s management of the pandemic and the country’s Zero-Covid policy as a place to isolate and treat people who have tested positive for Covid-19, both asymptomatic and mild-to-moderate symptomatic cases. In this way, the Fangcang hospitals alleviate the pressure on (designated) hospitals, so that they have more beds for patients with serious or severe symptoms.

On May 5th, Chinese state media reported about an important top leadership meeting regarding China’s Covid-19 situation. In this meeting, the Politburo Standing Committee stressed that China would “unswervingly adhere to the general Zero-Covid policy” and that victory over the virus would come with persistence. At the meeting, chaired by Xi Jinping, the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee also declared that China would fight against any words or acts that “distort, doubt, or deny” the country’s dynamic Zero-Covid policy.

Life inside one of Shanghai’s Fangcang, photo via UDN.com.

Following the meeting, there have been multiple official reports and statements that provide a peek into China’s ‘zero Covid’ future.

On May 13, China’s National Health Commission called on all provinces to build or renovate city-level Fangcang hospitals, and to make sure they are equipped with electricity, ventilation systems, medical appliances, toilets, and washing facilities (Weibo hashtag ##以地级市为单位建设或者改造方舱医院#).

On May 16, the term ‘Permanent Fangcang Hospital’ (Weibo hashtag #永久性方舱医院) became a trending topic on Weibo after Ma Xiaowei (马晓伟), Minister of China’s National Health Commission, introduced the term in Qiushi (求是), the leading official theoretical journal of the Chinese Communist Party.

The term is new and is somewhat contradictory as a concept, since ‘Fangcang hospitals’ are actually defined by their temporary nature.

Ma Xiaowei stressed the need for Chinese bigger cities to be ready for the next stage of China’s Covid control. This also includes the need for some central ‘Fangcang’ makeshift hospitals to become permanent ones.

In order to ‘normalize’ the control and monitoring that comes with living in Zero-Covid society, Chinese provincial capitals and bigger cities (more than ten million inhabitants) should do more to improve Covid testing capacities and procedures. Ma proposes that there should be nucleic acid sample collection points across the city within a 15-minute walking distance radius, and testing frequency should be increased to maximize efficient control and prevention.

Cities should be prepared to take in patients for isolation and/or treatment at designated hospitals, centralized isolation sites, and the permanent Fangcang hospitals. The recent Covid outbreak in Shanghai showed that local authorities were unprepared to deal with the outbreak, and sites that were used as Fangcang hospitals often lacked proper facilities, leading to chaotic scenes.

A Fangcang Isolation Center in Quanzhou, March 2022, via People’s Daily.

The hashtag “Permanent Fangcang Hospitals” received over 140 million views on Weibo on Monday.

One of the Weibo threads by state media reporting on the Permanent Fangcang hospitals and the publication by Ma Xiaowei received nearly 2000 comments, yet the comment section only displayed three comments praising the newly announced measures, leaving out the other 1987 comments.

Elsewhere on Weibo, people shared their views on the Permanent Fangcang Hospitals, and most were not very positive – most commenters shared their worries about China’s Covid situation about the stringent measures being a never-ending story.

“We’re normalizing nucleic acid test, we’re introducing permanent fangcang hospitals, [but] why isn’t the third Covid vaccination coming through?” one person wondered.

“If there was still a little bit of passion inside me, it was just killed by reading these words ‘Permanent Fangcang Hospital,'” another commenter writes, with one Weibo user adding: “I feel desperate hearing the words ‘Permanent Fangcang Hospital.'”

“Building permanent Fangcang? Why? Why don’t you use the resources you’re now spending on normalizing testing to create more hospital beds, more medical staff and more medications?”

Another commenter wrote: “China itself is one giant permanent Fangcang hospital.”

“The forever Fangcang are being built,” one Weibo user from Guangdong writes: “This will never end. We’ll be locked up like birds in a cage for our entire life.”

For more articles on the Covid-19 topics on Chinese social media, check here.

By Manya Koetse, with contributions by Miranda Barnes

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Featured image via user tongtong [nickname] Weibo.com.

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©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China and Covid19

‘Hard Isolation’ is Shanghai’s New Word of the Day

In line with a new ‘hard isolation’ measure, the entrances of some Shanghai residential buildings were fenced up.

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While some Shanghai households have already endured weeks of isolation, a new word was added to their epidemic vocabulary today: ‘hard isolation’ or ‘strong quarantine’ (yìng gélí 硬隔离)

The word popped up on Chinese social media on April 23rd after some Shanghai netizens posted photos of fences being set up around their community building to keep residents from walking out.

“New word: hard isolation. Shanghai is rotten to the core,” one commenter wrote.

The word soon turned into a hashtag page where people started commenting on the issue of fences being placed around residential buildings, voicing concerns on what a fence around buildings would mean for fire safety, especially after online rumors suggested that there had been a fire at one community in Pudong on Saturday night.

An official document regarding the ‘hard isolation’ measure was also shared online on Saturday. It is dated April 23, 2022, and its source is the Pudong New Area Office for Epidemic Control.

The document states that in line with the guidelines for the city’s epidemic prevention and control, the division between areas or zones that are in certain risk categories should be ‘optimized,’ with those in the high-risk category requiring a ‘hard isolation.’ Security guards should also be on duty 24 hours a day at the entrance of the buildings.

Earlier this month, Shanghai adopted “3-level control measures” after its initial phased lockdown. It means that local areas will be classified as “locked-down,” “controlled” or “precautionary,” based on their Covid19 risk.

“Could we also put fences around the homes of Shanghai leaders?”, one person suggested, while others posted images from the Walking Dead to mock the situation.

In the hope of Shanghai soon tackling the Covid situation, not everybody disagreed with the decision to fence some buildings or communities in the Pudong area: “I don’t disagree with it, as long as there is always someone there to open the fence in case of fire,” one person stated.

Although having a fence around their building is currently not a reality for most in Shanghai, the online photos of some communities seeing their buildings being fenced up is a reason to worry for some: “It’s been 40 days, and now they start hard isolation? This actually scares me. Before we know it, it’s June.”

One Weibo user asked: “Why is it possible to implement this hard isolation now? Was this created by the same persons who also implemented the rule to separate children from parents at isolation sites?”

“I truly can’t imagine why some people thought this is a good idea,” others wrote.

For more articles on the Covid-19 topics on Chinese social media, check here.

By Manya Koetse

Get the story behind the hashtag. Subscribe to What’s on Weibo here to receive our weekly newsletter and get access to our latest articles:

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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