CFR Presents

Asia Unbound

CFR experts give their take on the cutting-edge issues emerging in Asia today.

Posts by Author

Showing posts for "Yanzhong Huang"

Domestic Health Challenges and Global Health Governance: The Cases of China and India

by Yanzhong Huang
China's President Hu Jintao shakes hands with Indian's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. China's President Hu Jintao shakes hands with Indian's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (B Mathur/Courtesy Reuters).

It’s been a busy week for global health. With the Indian Supreme Court’s landmark decision to dismiss Novartis AG’s attempt to patent its cancer drug Glivec, the doors for low-cost generic drugs will remain open. At the same time in China, as it’s been covered by me and my colleague Laurie Garrett,  the rise  of  a deadly new bird flu strain has already infected nine people, three of whom have died, in Southeast China. Both developments have tremendous implications for global governance for health. Read more »

The Rise of a Deadly New Strain of Bird Flu: Has China Handled This Properly So Far?

by Yanzhong Huang
Health workers pack dead chicken at a wholesale poultry market in Hong Kong December 21, 2011. Health workers pack dead chicken at a wholesale poultry market in Hong Kong December 21, 2011 (Siu Chiu/Courtesy Reuters).

China has long been perceived as the epicenter of major infectious disease outbreaks. The 2003 SARS crisis was the most recent and notable example. However, over the past months, China has been caught up in a series of public health-related crises, including air pollution in Beijing and dead pigs in Shanghai. So when reports came out over the weekend that a new lethal strain of bird flu, H7N9, was identified in China, it should not be a surprise to anyone. Read more »

Dead Pigs in Shanghai: Failing Food Safety Regulations

by Yanzhong Huang
A villager cuts meat from a dead pig in the Zhulin village of Jiaxing March 12, 2013. A villager cuts meat from a dead pig in the Zhulin village of Jiaxing March 12, 2013. (Stringer/Courtesy Reuters)

Last week, thousands of dead pigs were discovered floating in the Huangpu River, which supplies drinking water to Shanghai’s 23 million residents. As of Tuesday evening, sanitation workers have retrieved nearly 6,000 carcasses from the river. The municipal authorities insist that the city’s water supply has not been contaminated, but they did admit that the dead pigs have tested positive for the PCV virus (which causes a sometimes fatal pig disease) as well as other pathogens, including foot and mouth disease (FMD), swine fever, hog cholera, and blue-ear pig disease. Initial investigations have also identified Jiaxing, a city in the neighboring Zhejiang province, as the origin of the dead pigs. Read more »

Choking to Death: Health Consequences of Air Pollution in China

by Yanzhong Huang
Chinese commuters make their way in heavy smog in Beijing Chinese commuters make their way in heavy smog in Beijing (Reinhard Krause/Courtesy Reuters).

In the past few months, I wrote about the food the Chinese eat, and, more recently, Liz Economy wrote about the water the Chinese drink. But the air that the Chinese breathe is now a major concern. As the nearly 3,000 delegates of the National People’s Congress (NPC) arrive in Beijing to attend the yearly event to formally endorse nominees for key government leadership posts and important national policies, it would be hard for them to ignore the poor air quality in the country’s capital. Last Thursday morning, readings near Tiananmen Square measured the concentration of PM2.5—fine particles in the air that are smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter and are considered dangerous because they tend to penetrate the gas exchange regions of the lungs—at 469 micrograms per cubic meter, which corresponds to a U.S. EPA Air Quality Index reading of 479 (the scale stops at 500). Anything above 301 is considered “hazardous” in that it can cause “serious aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly,” and there is a “serious risk of respiratory effects in general population.” The PM2.5 levels in other famously polluted cities pale in comparison to those in Beijing; for instance, the highest PM2.5 level in a 24-period recorded in Los Angeles was 43 micrograms per cubic meter. Read more »

Ten Years after SARS: Five Myths to Unravel

by Yanzhong Huang
Observers look out of windows as "patients" walk past during a SARS outbreak drill in Hong Kong November 19, 2004. (Bobby Yip/Courtesy Reuters) Observers look out of windows as "patients" walk past during a SARS outbreak drill in Hong Kong November 19, 2004. (Bobby Yip/Courtesy Reuters)

Last week, I was in Beijing for an international conference while the city experienced record levels of air pollution. I had a feeling of déjà vu as I saw people wearing face masks. Ten years ago, at the height of the SARS epidemic, a sea of people in white masks—most of them scared migrant workers and university students—flocked to train and bus stations and airports in the hope of fleeing the city. Then, face masks were a symbol of the fear of a deadly and seemingly omnipresent virus that was responsible for 349 deaths and over 5,300 infections in China alone. As the first severe infectious disease to emerge in the twenty-first century, SARS caused the most serious socio-political crisis for the Chinese leadership since the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown. Read more »

Presidential Inbox: Integrating Global Health Into the Pivot Strategy

by Yanzhong Huang
U.S. President Obama is followed by his staff as he leaves the Plenary session of the 21st ASEAN and East Asia summit in Phnom Penh (Damir Sagolj/Courtesy Reuters). U.S. President Obama is followed by his staff as he leaves the Plenary session of the 21st ASEAN and East Asia summit in Phnom Penh (Damir Sagolj/Courtesy Reuters).

Mr. President, as you begin your second term, you and your Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping both face the challenge of building a mature and mutually beneficial bilateral relationship.  There is no need to belabor the strategic importance of the Sino-American relations for the United States.  Indeed, one may argue that it is precisely the strategic dynamics driven by China’s rise that led to your critical decision to pivot to Asia. Read more »

Why Is It in China’s Interest to Promote Health Security in Southeast Asia?

by Yanzhong Huang
Dead ducks are hung at a farm in the outskirts of Phnom Penh December 17, 2008. Cambodia began culling poultry near its capital on Wednesday, officials said, five days after a young man from the area was confirmed with H5N1 bird flu by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the government (Chor Sokunthea/Courtesy Reuters). Dead ducks are hung at a farm in the outskirts of Phnom Penh December 17, 2008. Cambodia began culling poultry near its capital on Wednesday, officials said, five days after a young man from the area was confirmed with H5N1 bird flu by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the government (Chor Sokunthea/Courtesy Reuters).

If there is a buzzword one needs to know to understand U.S. foreign policy toward Asia in 2013, it is “rebalancing,” or in the words of President Obama “pivoting.” Rebalancing is of course not solely about military redeployment. Indeed, a critical element of the U.S. rebalancing strategy in the region is to nurture partnerships with countries and international institutions to address common threats in areas such as regional health security. Read more »

Leadership Transition in China: A New Beginning or the Beginning of the End?

by Yanzhong Huang
In this handout photo released by TaKungPao.com on December 10, 2012, China's Vice President Xi Jinping (L) plants a tree on Lianhua hill in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, December 8, 2012 (TaKungPao.com/Courtesy Reuters). In this handout photo released by TaKungPao.com on December 10, 2012, China's Vice President Xi Jinping (L) plants a tree on Lianhua hill in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, December 8, 2012 (TaKungPao.com/Courtesy Reuters).

After the presentation of the fifth generation of communist party leaders in China, my colleague Liz Economy noted that the 18th Party Congress was a victory for the Party’s conservative clique in terms of personnel and policy. Liz was certainly not the only leading China hand who thought that the Party Congress was a heartbreaker. A former US government official recently even said to me that the late Hu Jintao era (which officially ends in March 2013) could be “the beginning of the end.” Many Chinese scholars were equally disappointed.  At a roundtable discussion held on November 16, Zi Zhongyun said that she felt “upset and hopeless” with the results of the Party Congress.  Another leading Chinese public intellectual even suggested that the Party might not be able to make it to the 20th Congress. Read more »

The 18th Party Congress: A Setback for President Hu?

by Yanzhong Huang
China's President Hu Jintao claps as he arrives for the opening ceremony of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing March 3, 2011. (Jason Lee/Courtesy Reuters). China's President Hu Jintao claps as he arrives for the opening ceremony of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing March 3, 2011. (Jason Lee/Courtesy Reuters).

Two days after the U.S. presidential election, 2270 delegates will gather in Beijing for the Chinese Communist Party’s 18th Congress. The meeting will not only select a new generation of leaders but will also endorse the Party’s new political agenda. After being hit by a slew of scandals, the Communist Party is doing all it can to make sure all “unstable elements” are nipped in the bud. Security is tight not just in Beijing but also in other parts of China.  I heard stories of the police stopping cars in a southern province to search for knives. When one of the drivers dared to ask why, he was simply told “shiba da” (18th Party Congress). Read more »

Why Haven’t Chinese Leaders Acted Decisively to Reduce Tobacco Use?

by Yanzhong Huang
A visitor dressed as a Red Army soldier smokes as he poses for a picture in Jinggangshan, Jiangxi province on September 20, 2012. (Carlos Barria / Courtesy Reuters) A visitor dressed as a Red Army soldier smokes as he poses for a picture in Jinggangshan, Jiangxi province on September 20, 2012. (Carlos Barria / Courtesy Reuters)

In mid-October, Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev voiced support for a proposed ban on smoking in public places by 2015. “The government is not at war with smokers,” he said, “but we are making a stand against smoking.”

Compared to Russia, where about a third of the population smokes, China has “the biggest tobacco problem in the world.” As Cheng Li pointed out in a recent publication, China is “the world’s biggest tobacco producer, largest cigarette consumer, and gravest victim of the smoking-related health crisis.” Read more »