Morale: Phony Doctors Bring Down the Chinese Army


January27, 2007: For the second time in a year, the Chinese government has to crack down on medical clinics pretending to be part of the military medical system. Why is that? The Chinese armed forces are the last vestige of the old communist social system. That is, the army had its own factories, farms and medical system back in the day. Like all organizations in a communist nation, the organization tried to be self-sufficient. The government forced the generals to sell off the farms and factories (because the officers were spending too much time getting rich, and not enough time being soldiers.) But the military health network is still one of the best sources of medical care in the country, and companies have been pretending to be military medical clinics, and offering to sell, via mail, miracle cures. People are inclined to believe that, not only does the military have this extensive medical system, but special drugs and miracle cures as well.

Last Summer, sixteen such clinics were shut down. But the use of email spam, some print ads, a public desperate for cheaper medicines, and the too many crooks out there eager for a fast buck, brought the scam back stronger than ever. Now there appear to be dozens of these military medical scams out there. The government is moving quickly to shut these swindles down, partly because the military already has a reputation for being corrupt and inefficient. The Pentagon believes otherwise, but who are you going to believe?

The return of this military medical scam comes at an inconvenient time as well. The government has announced a new crackdown on corruption in the military, with a new round of audits and investigations to kick off on March 1st. Corruption in the Chinese military is an ancient, and seemingly intractable, tradition. But the government knows that, until it cleans it up, China will never have a truly modern and effective force.


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