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Huang, Yanzhong
Mortal Peril: Public Health in China and Its Security Implications
Chemical and Biological Arms Control Institute, Washington D.C, 2003, 93 pp

Health and Security Series - Special Report 7


"Thirty years ago, the consensus among public health experts in the United States was that the Chinese government had done a most commendable and imaginative job of sharply reducing the incidence and prevalence of the most troublesome diseases that oppressed the people of China before 1949. Today, the United Nations has issued one of its harshest public criticisms of China’s lackluster efforts to face its rapidly accelerating epidemic of HIV/AIDS, saying the country is on the verge of a catastrophe. What led to such a dramatic
shift in China’s public health status? What are the implications of such a change? While most of today’s dire reports focus on China’s health problems and challenges, a systematic and balanced analysis of this country’s evolving health regime remains rare. Moreover, while many scholars recognize that China’s public health situation constitutes an integral part of its overall sociopolitical system, they pay only scant attention to political institutions, policy process, and state capacities in shaping health status in China. In addition, the public health problems in China as a threat to national and international security have barely been explored or understood. This piece seeks to address these needs. After an examination of how China’s health system has changed, I will examine how state capacities play a crucial role in the dramatic changes of China’s health status. This will be followed by a discussion of the national and international security implications of public health in China. I end with some policy suggestions on how to deal with China’s health problems at the national and international levels."

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