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Changchun Vaccine Scandal Causes Outrage on Weibo

Another vaccine scandal heightens parents’ distrust of vaccines.

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Within three years time, a third scandal has been exposed in the Chinese vaccine industry, adding to parents’ mistrust of vaccines in China.

A new vaccine scandal involving Changchun Changsheng, China’s second-largest producer of anti-rabies vaccines, has caused a tsunami of outrage and media coverage in China this week.

China’s State Food and Drug Administration found that the Jilin-based Changchun company did not only produce fake anti-rabies vaccines, but also substandard DPT vaccines, Caijing News reports on Weibo.

The news about Changchun’s violations already came out on July 15th, but especially led to a social media storm this weekend after reports leaked online exposing that the same company had already violated production laws as early as October of last year.

It is not the first time China faces serious problems in its vaccine programmes. In November of 2017, over 650,000 faulty – uneffective – vaccines were recalled in Shandong, Hebei and Chongqing.

In 2016, another scandal concerning the distribution of illegal and potentially deadly vaccines also became a major trending topic on Chinese social media.

It is mandatory for children to be vaccinated in line with the China National Immunization Programme.

At time of writing, the hashtag “Changchun Changsheng Counterfeit Vaccines” (#长春长生造假疫苗#) has already received over 49 million views on Weibo.

The current scandal adds to parents’ mistrust of vaccines in China, with thousands of people on Weibo demanding that those responsible for these violations should be given capital punishment.

On the various Weibo accounts of Chinese state media and local authorities, however, a post has been published that asks people to “not let anger and panic spread,” and to trust that “the relevant departments will deal with this issue in a timely manner.”

Various essays and comments threads about the faulty vaccines were no longer visible as of Sunday afternoon. While Beijing News reports that the Changchun vaccines were not used in Beijing, many questions still linger for worried parents in many other parts of the country.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

China Health

‘Random’, ‘Shocking’, ‘Pointless’: Female Military Doctor Stabbed to Death in Tianjin Hospital

Another random outburst of violence in a Chinese hospital has shocked Weibo commenters.

Chauncey Jung

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A 47-year-old doctor from Tianjin died after a random knife attack in an outpatient clinic. Over recent years, more and more outbursts of violence against doctors make headlines in China.

The fatal stabbing of a female military doctor in Tianjin on July 12th has shocked Chinese netizens.

The Tianjin Affiliated Hospital of The Chinese People’s Armed Police Forces, where the stabbing took place, issued a statement on Weibo about the incident (image below), saying that the 47-year-old Zhao Junyan (赵军艳) was violently attacked by three people at the outpatient clinic on Thursday morning.

Zhao died of her injuries later that day. The main suspect and two other suspects were apprehended by the police at the scene of the crime.

One witness told reporters at We Video that the attackers did not try to run away after the stabbing: “The [main] suspect was about 50 years old. He did not run away, perhaps he knew that would be futile. He did not say anything after stabbing the doctor. We called the police and had him arrested.”

The same witness also suggests that the main suspect was the husband of a patient at the clinic, although Sina News reports that it did not concern one of Zhao’s own patients.

Another person who was there when it happened told Chinese media: “When the suspect was arrested, he said that his target was not Dr. Zhao, but another doctor. Dr. Zhao was just unlucky to be the victim.”

Violence against Chinese Medical Staff

Zhao’s killing is one of many of such incidents over previous years; violence has become a more and more common occurrence in Chinese hospitals, where the so-called yinao phenomenon (医闹, ‘medical disturbance’) is a growing problem. Yinao is the organized disturbance and violence in hospitals against medical workers.

In 2012, another female doctor was axed to death by a patient in Tianjin; in 2013, a patient in Wenling fatally stabbed his doctor after he was unhappy with the results of an operation. Just last year, a male doctor in Anhui province was stabbed to death by the father of one of his patients. The list of incidents goes on, and it is extensive.

In response to the recent incident, Weibo users collectively expressed their anger and concern in the comment sections; dozens of threads on the issue received thousands of responses on Weibo this week, with people calling the brutal attack “pointless” and “outrageous.”

“If this crime doesn’t receive the death penalty, our legal system is a joke,” a commenter by the name of ‘@33daysofsilence’ wrote.

Another user wrote: “Even if this was their doctor there’s no reason to hurt her. It is tragic to see that doctors end up in dangerous situations nowadays.”

“Wouldn’t let our kids become doctors”

“My husband is a doctor and I am a nurse. But we wouldn’t let our kids become doctors. If this [violence] keeps happening, nobody will be willing to work in the healthcare industry anymore,” a user named @Jinyueyao2008 wrote.

Many Chinese face major obstacles in getting access to the healthcare they need. Doctor-patient conflicts in China partly come from the high costs and long waiting times in Chinese hospitals and clinics, triggering frustration among patients. As conflicts become more violent and receive more media attention, more people are starting to perceive the professions of doctors or nurses as a potentially hazardous.

“It is difficult and expensive to see a doctor- this leads to more conflicts between doctors and patients,” a top commenter writes on Weibo.

“There was no reason for this at all, these people must be crazy. This society is becoming more and more scary,” another person wrote.

Meanwhile, the death of Zhao Junyan, who leaves behind a son and her husband, is mourned on Weibo. Posting virtual candles, many hope that Zhao can “rest in peace.”

By Chauncey Jung

This article has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Health

Photo of Crying Single Mum Shows Harsh Reality of Healthcare in China

The heartbreaking photos of a desperate mother are going viral for the second time.

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A photo that is currently going viral on Chinese social media shows a crying mother in Shanghai kneeling down by her toddler son on the sidewalk.

The text accompanying the photo says:

On Shanghai Beiyuan Street, a single mother kneels on the street in the cold wind. She buries her head in her child’s arms and quietly sobs. The 3-year-old son suffers from hydrocephalus [“water on the brain”], and they previously came to Shanghai to seek medical treatment because he had an infection. After using up all their money, they were forced to leave the hospital. The helpless mother just sat on the street, feeling sorry for her child.

The photo received thousands of comments on Weibo today, with many people offering to help the mother out. “It hurts to see this,” some said: “She wants to be able to help her son, but she does not have the resources.”

Many Chinese face major obstacles in getting access to the healthcare they need. Under China’s current medical system, it is not easy for people from rural areas to gain access to medical facilities in the major cities, as they are not covered there and will have to pay for medical care themselves.

The issue is related to China’s hukou (household registration) system: government-subsidized rural medical insurance is often not valid in a different province, which means that villagers who fall seriously ill are not covered when they travel to first-tier cities for medical care.

So-called ticket scalpers (票贩子) take advantage of the system and people’s eagerness to see a doctor by using local identification cards to book appointments and then selling them to people without the proper documentation.

As for the crying single mother; this is not the first time these photos make their rounds around Chinese social media. The scene was captured on camera approximately four months ago, in early December of 2017.

It is not uncommon for the same story or photos to go viral again or to keep circulating on Weibo, similar to viral news stories on Twitter or Facebook.

According to Phoenix News, the mother is the 45-year-old Guo Yinzhen (郭银珍), who is a single parent since she divorced from her estranged husband some years ago. Her son’s name is Guo Zhenghan (郭政焓), and they come from a village in Datian county, Sanming, in Fujian – some 830 kilometers from Shanghai.

The photos were reportedly taken on December 1, 2017, when a reporter joined some volunteers to pay a visit to the Shanghai’s Children’s Hospital and came across the crying mother and then asked her about her story.

Photos from Sina.com

Guo Zhenghan was born in November of 2014 and has congenital hydrocephalus, meaning he already had it at birth. From 2014 to 2016, the child underwent three surgeries, but his condition deteriorated in May of 2017. Since November 2017 alone, the child was admitted to the hospital four times because of a potentially fatal bacterial complication.

Having used up all her money and still needing some 100,000s yuan (more than $15,000) for further treatments, Guo Yinzhen had no choice but to leave the hospital again, which is when she helplessly sat down on the street with her son.

In March 2018, Sina News also reported about this story, saying that Guo Yinzhen is a laid-off factory worker who has not been able to work since the birth of her child. Her parents are farmers who make a living by plucking tea leaves.

Sina also writes that the family has already spent 400,000 yuan (±US $63,000) on medical expenses, and still owe around US $47,000 in debts.

“I just feel so bad for the mother,” many people on Weibo respond.

“Since this is [the state of] medical treatments in Chinese society, parents have to make sure they can afford the medical costs if their child falls ill,” another person comments: “It is the best to purchase a commercial insurance. They’re not cheap, but even if costly, they need to buy it.”

In search of how Guo and her son are now doing, we found a buried Weibo post dated December 12, which only received four comments, in which a netizen writes:

On December 1, the crying single mother kneeling in the cold by her son has received ample attention. On December 5, with the help of the Xiaoxingxin Foundation, single parent Guo Yinzhen was able to bring her child Guo Zhenghan to Shanghai again for medical treatment, where the notable pediatric neurosurgeon Bao Nan operated the child. Thank you for all your care.

The update was also confirmed by the Xiaoxingxin Foundation with a post on Weibo (@小星欣公益), which also said that according to the doctor, the infection had gone and that the brain development of the boy was “looking good.”

“Why can’t we set up a system in which children will always be able to receive complete basic healthcare?” one netizen wondered.

On March 15, China Central Television reported that future reforms in China’s healthcare system will make healthcare more accessible and affordable, especially for rural communities – it does not say on what term these changes will be realized.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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What’s on Weibo provides social, cultural & historical insights into an ever-changing China. What’s on Weibo sheds light on China’s digital media landscape and brings the story behind the hashtag. This independent news site is managed by sinologist Manya Koetse. Contact info@whatsonweibo.com. ©2014-2018

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