Xi Jinping claimed poverty would disappear by 2020. Here is 2020, and here is a young student who died of malnutrition.
by Massimo Introvigne
This picture tells a story. It does not show a child, but a 24-year-old young woman. She weighed less than 50 pounds. Her height was 4 feet and 5 inches. When the photograph was taken, she was about to die. Her name was Wu Huayan, and she died on January 12, 2020 at the Affiliated Hospital of Guizhou Medical University in the city of Guiyang in eastern Guizhou province.
Wu did not always look like this. She was a normal young girl and a student at Guizhou Forerunner College. Then, both her parents died, and Wu had to care for herself, her studies, and the psychiatric treatments for her mentally ill brother. She had to survive with a social security allowance of a mere 300 yuan ($43.50) per month.
She did not want to stop studying, and would do everything to support her brother. So, she started skipping breakfast, then dinner, and in the end tried to survive on a single daily meal of rice, chili peppers, and plain steamed buns. By October 2018, malnutrition had caused a severe heart condition. She had also lost half of her hair. She was hospitalized, but cures were also expensive, and the cost of the surgery she needed was prohibitive. She launched an appeal on Shuidichou, an online crowdfunding site, asking for help to cover her medical bills. CCP charities intervened, and some $140,000 were collected. Wu, however, died last week and, before CCP censorship made most news and messages about her disappear from the Internet, it came out that most of this money never reached her, generating a public outcry about the corruption of CCP-run charities.
This, however, is only part of the problem. On December 2019, CCP propaganda was still telling the world that President Xi Jinping’s plan to end poverty in 2020 was about to be accomplished. The death of Wu Huayan is a sad yet timely reminder that propaganda should not be confused with reality.
The horrific story of Wu Huayan would remind many Western readers of the tales of miserable children in Victorian England by Charles Dickens (1812–1870). And for a good reason. China is, in some respects, similar to England during the Industrial Revolution, where the rich lived a luxurious life, commerce flourished, the country was a global power, yet the orphans and the poor died of hunger in the streets and the hospitals. Industrial development came without relief for the poor. Karl Marx (1818–1883) lived in London and saw the same situation Dickens described. Marx was able to criticize it, but didn’t really do anything to solve the problem. In fact, poverty was eventually alleviated in England, not through Marxist revolution but through the efforts of social reformers, most of them motivated by religion and Christianity. By cracking down on religion, Xi Jinping deprives the poor of their best friend and help. His fake news is not solving the social tragedies of China, and people like Wu Huayan continue starving and dying.