is a palpable grumpiness surrounding businessmen and foreigners
here in Chengdu. Business is bad, there is no work for expats, travel
is restricted and worst of all: the netbars have closed.
the common Sichuanese, the loss of Internet access, the roadblocks
to scenic sites and the marked decrease in traffic – business or
otherwise – is not much of an inconvenience.
men and women continue to skip off to the market to haggle over
breakfast, lunch and dinner. The underemployed and the retired still
sit around with tea, tobacco and chat to the clackety-clack of mah
are preparing for the grueling tests of Black July and peasants/workers
still trudge from one construction spot to another smoking and muttering.
the big money makers that cruise around Chengdu in $100,000 BMWs
and Explorers are shaking their heads in misery. Imports from Canton
are a trickle. Delegations both in and out of China are laced with
procedures, thermometers and the ever-present specter of quarantine.
plans to visit Finland, Hawaii, Australia, Thailand etc. are being
put off or rethought. Hotels and restaurants are at 20% normal capacity
and the floor managers are hearing it from the bosses and the bosses
from the investors. Boeing's planes are grounded at the Chengdu
International airport and International Paper is finding itself
with fewer orders for corrugated boxes: exports are down, and so
is the demand for the packages that ship them.
amongst the rich and wealthy revolve around slow business and mutual
reassurances that SARS will not affect the raging Chinese economy,
the hardening renmenbi
or the steady inflow of direct investment from other rich and wealthy
far, 5200 SARS cases have been reported on the mainland and 296
people have died, including one of Hong Kong's leading SARS doctors,
Tse Yuen Man. Approximately 600 have died worldwide. Not an extremely
deadly virus when considering the population density of Eastern
China and the time it took for the Chinese government to cone clean
and let the world (and its own people) know that an unknown virus
with no cure is killing people. Other
viruses with less exposure are just as deadly if not more so.
is receiving a lot of flak mostly due to a culture of secrecy or
lying which foreign businessmen find especially costly and infuriating.
So to vent their anger, the rich are looking for ways to profit:
Liu of Ping An Insurance held forth about the vast market open to
his company and the revolutionary effect the onset of SARS had on
the perception of normal Chinese toward insurance.
hospitals in China were mumbling about sums reaching 200,000 RMB
to treat a SARS patient. For the unfortunates of Shanxi, mostly
rural or urban poor with little in the way of health care, SARS
means death if these prices hold. So Charles sees the need for people
like him to step in and aid the little man in his crisis.
insurance companies, already spreading out in all of the Special
Economic Zones dotting Eastern China, are chomping at the bit. Just
1% of 1.3 billion worried Chinese means big money.
here – regardless of Eastern Seaboard or Backward Hinterland – were
mostly built by Russians in the 1950s and look more like prisons.
Dirty, cold concrete and moldy blankets; smoking doctors and an
audience for every procedure; ridiculous crowds and stressed out
nurses – and most ridiculous of all: Chinese hospitals in Sichuan
adhere strictly to THE RULE and eat and rest at the appointed times
(8am, noon, 5pm). After 5:30 the hospitals close. That's right,
don't let anyone tell you different. Emergency rooms stay open for
emergencies – every other sick person must wait until tomorrow.
And your not allowed to be sick during lunch.
who is drooling over revelations that Taiwanese hospitals are ill
fitted to meet the challenge of SARS.
night a representative of Friends of China gave a speech at the
American Chamber of Commerce monthly dinner. He described the conditions
of the outlying counties and the medical facilities they didn't
have. The attending businessmen oohed and ahhed and shook their
heads at the dismal situation and wondered aloud how such counties
would deal with an onslaught of SARS.
wear masks and shun all outsiders, that is what they do.
520 South Murphy Avenue, Suite #202
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
Contribute Via our Secure Server
Credit Card Donation Form
contributions are now tax-deductible
is a teacher living and working in China. His articles have appeared
in the South China Morning Post, the Minnesota Daily,
and elsewhere. His exclusive Antiwar.com column (usually) appears
Behind the Thrones
When to Lie, Know When to Shoot Straight
Like War, Huh?'
Beautiful Morning for a War
Power Moves Abroad
Safest Place in the World
off the Fence
and Nods and Handouts
Straddling the Fence Just Right
Count on China
Christmas from China
Believe the Hype
Incoming Hu Era
Theory Is a Smokescreen
Make You Play Bad Card'
Future of East-West Rapprochement
Legacy: The Forgotten Rebellion
the Chinese Smile
China Can Disregard US Anger
the World: What the US Fears
Billion Problems For China
New Post-9/11 Status
Room for Growth
Back in the USA
Missing the Boat?
Sweep 'Em Off the Streets
Chinese Embrace Progress
War May Reveal New Superpower, Part II
War May Reveal New Superpower
Chance for a New Friendship?
as a Way of Life
Markets or Supermarkets
Towards World Significance
on the Road to Capitalism
American in China
the Street in China: A Report