Zhang Lijia

Violence used by patients against doctors has hit the headlines a few times. Author Zhang Lijia can understand from her own experience how the culture of bribes drives patients to desperation, she tells in KTEP.


As a teenager in the 1980s, Lijia Zhang worked in a missile factory where the state provided all health care. The system was incredibly wasteful. Zhang, who wrote about her experiences in the memoir Socialism Is Great, recalls medicine was so plentiful, workers used to throw pills at each other for fun.

China shifted from a command economy to a more market-oriented one and turned hospitals into profit-driven ventures. A few years ago, Zhang says, an anesthesiologist shook her family down for bribes over surgery for a cousin, who was dying of leukemia.

“He demanded about $3,300,” Zhang recalls. “My cousin’s family was poor. We all had to chip in money. The reason we paid the money is we thought the operation was very dangerous. We thought if we didn’t pay, it may jeopardize the health of my cousin.”

After paying bribes, if a surgery goes badly, many patients are understandably enraged.

More in KTEP.

Zhang Lijia is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need her at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.

China Weekly Hangout

Is president Xi Jinping going to win the fight against corruption? Chao Pan, Steve Barru and Harm Kiezebrink discussed at the China Weekly Hangout on October 31 how the drive against corruption and political survival mix with each other. Moderation by Fons Tuinstra of the China Speakers Bureau.

Sara HsuOn Monday 11 November shadow banking expert Sara Hsu will be discussing the latest developments in the +China Weekly Hangout and give her view in an upcoming hangout on what we can expect in the months to come, and hopefully has already some idea of what the Third Plenum will lead to. Broadcasting time will be 5pm CET, 11am EST and (unfortunately) midnight at Beijing time (but you can watch the session also later). Questions will be asked by +Fons Tuinstra of the China Speakers Bureau. There will be no other guests in the hangout – unless you have some very good arguments. But questions can be asked during the event, from our event page here.  Before you can also leave questions or remarks here in the comments, or at the event page.

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