By Tom Bannister
Current Vice-President, and almost-President, Xi Jinping met with HIV and AIDS sufferers at a Beijing clinic on Friday. This is not the first time that the Chinese leadership has done this and Xi’s visit continues a growing recognition of China’s HIV/AIDS problem by the Chinese leadership: both Wen Jiabao and Hu Jintao met with sufferers on several occasions. This contrasts greatly with previous attitudes when the issue was more sensitive and leaders kept quiet. The soon-to-be Premier (effectively Xi’s no. 2), Li Keqiang, played an important role in covering up the blood transfusion scandal that led to up to 300,000 people being infected with the virus in the 1990’s. However, times are changing and Li met up with victims earlier on in the week.
In his own visit, and with a red AIDS ribbon pinned to his CCP-general-issue black jacket, Xi shook hands with the patients and said:
“All HIV carriers and AIDS patients are our brothers and sisters, and the whole society should light their life with love,” he said.
“HIV/AIDS is not terrible in itself, but what is really dreadful is the ignorance on HIV/AIDS and the prejudice against AIDS patients,” said Xi.
“The prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS should cover all the affected people without differentiation to ensure that the care from the Party,government and the whole society can reach them,”