While the rest of the world continues to suggest that everything build, made or slightly connected to China, will poison, maim, decapitate, sterilize, cause blindness, deafness and basically make you ill. Those of us who live here try to convince ourselves that this is just a ploy by the Americans to try to adjust the appalling balance of trade that currently exists between the two countries. Well a couple of stories I read this week may make me think again!
The first one to catch my eye was a story about ‘bloody clams’ I have to admit that I wasn’t familiar with the ‘bloody’ clam, I had eaten clams quite regularly in Chinese restaurants – and actually found them very enjoyable, and hadn’t been too concerned – that was until I read this week that there had been a number of cases of hepatitis ‘A’ being found in blood clams sold in local restaurants - an outbreak of some form of food poisoning at one of the local eatery’s isn’t unusual, but this grabbed my attention because I then found out that blood clams had been banned in Shanghai since 1988 – why? Well in the spring of that year blood clams infected over 300,000 people in Shanghai with Hepatitis ‘A’, 300,000 in one season, in one city.
This got me thinking about what else may we be at risk at over the winter / spring months in Shanghai, well I didn’t have to think for long as the next report in the Shanghai Daily answered that question for me – during the month of December 2611 people were detected with serious infectious diseases and the top 5 for Christmas were (In reverse order) scarlatina, viral hepatitis (our old friend!), tuberculosis, gonorrhoea, and at number 1 – syphilis. On an ‘unconnected’ story the Shanghai District Public Sanitation Bureau has just issued 50,000 maps of local public conveniences for taxi drivers, it describes the initiative as a way to "reduce environment pollution". Which has to be one of the best youthanisms I have ever heard!
Continuing on a health theme, anyone that has visited China will undoubtedly recognise the amount of people who smoke. A lover of statistics – here are a few about smoking in China:
- Over 350 million people smoke in China.
- Official figures suggest that nearly 2/3rds of all males smoke
- 30% of the world’s tobacco is consumed in China.
- Government institutions make 95% the cigarettes consumed in China.
- The government produces 2 trillion cigarettes each year.
- Smoking contributes over $30 billion to the communist party coffers.
- Smoking kills 1.2 million Chinese people each year.
- There is no age limit to buy cigarettes in China.
Thus I found it somewhat interesting to read about an initiative just started in Shanghai hospitals to try and educate the locals into quitting the dreaded weed. They will set up drop in clinics to help with the physiological issues surrounding nicotine deprivation – I guess they should start with the doctors and surgeons first (its estimated that 60% of them smoke – most whilst working!).
Just to show you that communism is still alive and well in the great PRC, it has just been announced that from May this year Mickey Mouse, Spongebob Squarepants and Pokemon aren’t welcome into the houses and flats of the young and youthful from May this year. The government has decided to ban all foreign cartoons from 5pm to 9pm each evening – not because they are violent, abusive or suggest a capitalist way of life, but to allow local Chinese cartoons become more popular. The idea being that if you take away the competition, people will like your own product more? A concept that left China 100 years behind the rest of the world before the Cultural Revolution! Oh and the government issued special guidelines on the shape, colour, texture and size of gluttonous rice balls – good to see they are attacking the issues that affect the masses!