Ex-Official Implicates Two Chinese Leaders in AIDS Scandal
December 6, 2010
In an open letter to President Hu Jintao, the former head of China's Institute of Health Education accused two of the country's most powerful leaders of "gross negligence" in the blood-selling scandal that left tens of thousands of Henan province residents infected with HIV. Chen Bingzhong, 78, who has advanced liver cancer, noted that the men have still not been punished.
Chen leveled his accusations against Vice Premier Li Keqiang, who was head of the central China province from 2002 to 2004 and is widely expected to succeed Premier Wen Jiabao. Chen also named Li Changchun, the Communist Party's propaganda chief, who served in that position in Henan from 1992 to 1998. "They have to take responsibility. They must apologize," said Chen, whose letter was published on the website of the activist group Aizhixing.
The two currently are part of the nine-member politburo standing committee, China's highest and most powerful decision-making body, along with Hu and Wen.
In the 1990s, entire villages in Henan were devastated after residents who repeatedly sold blood to collection stations were infected with HIV when the blood was pooled and then re-injected after plasma was removed. Local officials initially covered up the scandal. But activists, including Aizhixing founder Wan Yanhai, eventually made it public.
In 2001, the government said that 30,000 to 50,000 people may have been infected this way. However, Chen said the number is closer to 100,000, adding that at least 10,000 already have died.
Chen said in an interview he is frightened about the consequences of his accusations, "but if I don't disclose this, I will not have a peaceful conscience. I'm doing this to plead for the victims, to speak on their behalf."
Agence France Presse
News Outlets Report on Growing Pressure on Chinese Government to Acknowledge How Blood Transfusions, Donations in 1990s Contributed to Spread of HIV/AIDS in China
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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