Tim Blair


New Criterion



Friday, November 08, 2002

China has a problem with AIDS. The problem is enhanced by the normal practices of government in China: denial, fear of offending your superiors, corruption, ideology, the usual syndrome.

According to Auntie's Pre-Schoolers there is a simpler answer. Capitalism!

As a result tens of millions of people may develop Aids - and still the authorities
dither, because Beijing doesn't want to upset the multinationals by asking for affordable drugs.

That is, the Chinese government won't ask the drug companies to subsidise their health costs.

It seems to Uncle that with their economies of scale the Chinese government is in a good negotiating position, and doesn't need to upset anyone.

Has Australia's success in the anti-AIDS war depended on smashing the multinational drug companies? Demos at UN-sponsored conferences?

I doubt it's worth tuning in to find out how the Pre-Schoolers explain this one.

Later. It seems "affordability" is not just about money. China has donated eight million anti-tuberculosis drugs to the Kenyan Health Ministry to be used in treating tuberculosis among HIV/AIDS victims. Maybe there's some politics in this.