.........................as the imminent execution of a senior colleague.....(Alan Clark 1952-1999)
I’d be surprised if he’s at the centre of conversations at the water coolers of Ireland but you can be guaranteed that Zheng Xiaoyu is on the lips of many of China’s 1.3billion inhabitants as they sit over their breakfast bowl of noodles. On Tuesday the bauld Mr Zheng you see became the first government official in 7 years, and only the fourth in the last 30 to be executed for misdemeanours while in office. His crime? Well over the course of his 7-year reign at the State Food and Drug Administration, our dear friend pocketed US$850K in return for rubber-stamping the use of unproven medicines, a practice that resulted in the deaths of 10 users. Now before I start, I’m not condoning the use of capital punishment but isn’t that the kind of frighteners you’d want to inflict on our politicians. Cut Ivor Callely’s hand off for getting the hall, stairs and landing done for free. We could force feed Bertie Mary Harney’s bogeys to ensure that whole money thing is repented for. Sure don’t we already have a fully paid up member of the NRA sitting in the Department of Defence all set and ready to unleash a torrent of pain not seen since Rocky Balboa went toe to toe with Drago in 1985.
I stumbled across the Zheng story this morning by accident and witnessed subsequently that media outlets around the world are using as another lever to bate the bejaysus out of China with. While the treatment of our dear fully paid up Communist Party friend is remarkably over the top by even the most drastic of standards we shouldn’t be too quick to chastise our Chinese brethren for their backward ways. Instead we should sit up ignore our capitalist induced suspicion (fuck have I turned Commie) and admire what they’ve got going for them.
We could learn a lot from their health service for one. Mate of mine was cut down with a nasty infected cut in Xi’An a couple of weeks ago. Off we were dispatched to the local hospital where we were in and back out of casualty within 20mins fully treated. Back we went the second day as arranged for a check up and were seen too in less that 10mins, a standard experience we were later told. Trying to get from one part of Beijing to the other is a dream on the most efficient public transport system any of us had ever encountered. Not once did any of us feel unsafe as we wandered around the city, on the contrary we were welcomed by a nation only too happy to point lost westerners in the right direction.
It’s all likely to go somewhat pear-shaped though, not because of some modern revolution or a desire for the Chinese to turn their backs on their tradition, not because of evolution and the modernisation it brings. No because of things like the Olympics and the multinationals rushing East to get their slice of the bursting economy - 11% growth in the last year apparently. Already a Beijing 2008 t-shirt and cap is setting the locals back a month’s wages. The streets are being dug up, the metro routes altered. Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum is closed for “essential maintainance” to the body – most likely the installation of a Coca-Cola logo on his forhead. We can rush to judge but does that give us the right to rush and inflict change?