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.
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?
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.