Diabetes Ailing 114 Million Chinese Risks Ravaging Budget

Diabetes may consume $22 billion,
or more than half of China’s annual health budget, if all those
afflicted with the condition get routine, state-funded care.

The disease is putting an “overwhelming burden” on the
country, according to the International Diabetes Federation,
which says China spent $17 billion, or about $194 a patient, on
diabetes last year. A study released last week found China has
114 million diabetics or 21.6 million more than the Brussels-based federation estimated in November.

Extending average care to the enlarged population of
diabetes sufferers would wipe out all of China’s additional
investment in health. The government budgeted spending 260.25
billion yuan ($42.5 billion) this year, a 27 percent increase,
on basic medical services and subsidies for a state-run health
insurance program. China’s diabetes costs will balloon, with
almost 500 million Chinese at risk of developing the disease.

“It’s very scary,” said T.H. Lam, a professor of public
health at the University of Hong Kong. “This only represents
the beginning of the diabetic epidemic. The worst is yet to

Diabetes costs an average of $1,270 per patient globally
and $8,478 in the U.S., according to the International Diabetes
. Treatment for the metabolic condition and its
associated ailments is expensive because patients with poor
blood-sugar control can develop complications ranging from heart
and stroke to gangrenous foot ulcers, blindness and
kidney failure.

Oblivious Diabetics

The most comprehensive nationwide survey for diabetes ever
conducted in China showed 11.6 percent of adults have the
disease. The study, published Sept. 3 in the Journal of the
American Medical Association
, also found that almost two-thirds
of patients treated for diabetes in China don’t have adequate
blood-sugar control and that for every person diagnosed with the
condition, at least two more will be unaware they have it.

“People with diabetes who are not under treatment or have
good control of their diabetes will quickly start to develop
complications,” said Leonor Guariguata, a biostatistician at
the International Diabetes Federation. “We know from studies in
Europe that the first cardiovascular complication in a person
with diabetes can increase the per-person annual costs
associated with the disease by at least 50 percent and by 360
percent for a major cardiovascular event, such as heart attack
or stroke.”

$500 Billion Cost

Type-2 diabetes prevalence is expanding 4 percent a year
globally, compared with 1-to-2 percent for obesity, resulting in
$500 billion in medical costs, or more than 10 percent of
health-care expenditure, the Credit Suisse Research Institute
said yesterday in a report. Ninety percent of doctors worldwide
surveyed by the institute believe the type-2 diabetes and
obesity epidemics are linked to excess sugar consumption.

“As with alcohol and tobacco, higher taxation on drinks is
the best option to reduce sugar intake and help fund the fast
growing health-care costs,” the report said.

Most of China’s diabetes sufferers have the type-2 form,
which occurs when the body stops responding adequately to
insulin, the hormone that regulates blood-sugar. Type-1
diabetes, prevalent in about 5 percent of all sufferers, is an
autoimmune disease that results from the destruction of the
body’s insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.

China’s diabetes prevalence is being spurred by diet and
lifestyle changes linked to the country’s economic development,
which have resulted in an increasingly overweight and obese
population, said Barry Popkin, a professor in the department of
nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
who has studied weight trends in China.

‘Tip of the Iceberg’

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Popkin said in an
interview. “We’re beginning to see a whole cohort of younger
Chinese that are heavier, have greater rates of obesity as well
as diabetes, and in the future this is going to go way up.”

Chinese aged 10 to 30 are about 6-7 kilograms (15 pounds)
heavier than that age group 20 years ago, mainly due to
inactivity, and diets that comprise more sugary drinks, alcohol,
refined rice, and less fiber, Popkin said. This puts them at
higher risk of developing diabetes, he said.

Half of China’s adults, or 493.4 million people, have
higher-than-normal blood-glucose levels, which put them in a
pre-diabetic state that triples their risk of full-blown
diabetes, said Guang Ning, lead author of last week’s study and
director of the National Health and Family Planning Commission’s
laboratory for endocrine and metabolic diseases.

Cheaper Treatments

“China is trying hard to control the cost of treating
diabetes as much as possible,” said Ning, who is also head of
endocrinology and metabolism at the Rui-Jin Hospital in
Shanghai. “We have been able to do this by reducing the cost of
drugs and by encouraging more people to get treatment locally.”

Thirty-five percent of Chinese citizens’ health-care costs
were paid “out-of-pocket” in 2011, down from 58 percent in
2002, after the government expanded subsidies, according to a
State Council report published in December.

China’s doctors are encouraged to prescribe the generic
medicine metformin as a first-line drug for diabetics, while
patients who prefer traditional remedies are given huang lian su
tablets, containing berberine, a plant extract shown to be
effective in treating Type 2 diabetes, Ning said. Both these
options are much cheaper than imported medicines, he added.

“The major way to reduce the economic burden is to have a
good primary care system so many of these people can be treated
there, reducing the hospital expenditure,” said the University
of Hong Kong’s Lam. “There is a golden opportunity for early
treatment or early prevention to make sure people can reduce
their risk.”

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story:
Daryl Loo in Beijing at
Natasha Khan in Hong Kong at

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Jason Gale at

Enlarge image
Diabetes Hospital

Diabetes Hospital

Diabetes Hospital

Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images

A woman waits to receive treatment as she sits in front of billboards about diabetes at a diabetes hospital in Beijing.

A woman waits to receive treatment as she sits in front of billboards about diabetes at a diabetes hospital in Beijing. Photographer: Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images

China's Diabetes ‘Catastrophe’ Afflicts 114 Million

Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) — The most comprehensive nationwide survey for diabetes ever conducted in China shows 11.6 percent of adults, or 114 million, has the disease. The finding, published yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, adds 22 million diabetics, or the population of Australia, to a 2007 estimate and means almost one in three diabetes sufferers globally is in China. Stephen Engle reports. (Source: Bloomberg)

Millions at risk as China's prosperity brings diabetes epidemic

The Journal of the American Medical Association has just published results of the most comprehensive survey for diabetes ever conducted in China, revealing a shocking prevelance of the obesity-linked type 2 diabetes, which increases the risk of stroke, heart attack and kidney failure.

The survey’s findings add 22 million diabetics – equivalent to the population of Australia – to a 2007 estimate, meaning almost one in three diabetes sufferers globally is in China.

Dr Ning Guang, the lead researcher, said: “The prevalence of diabetes in the Chinese adult population has surpassed that of India and is now close to that of the United States.” Dr Ning is the vice-president of the Ruijin hospital, affiliated with the Shanghai Jiaotong University Medical School.

“Although it’s not appropriate to compare them in such a simple way, China is now home to the largest diabetes population in the world,” Dr Ning told the Xinhua news agency.

Rising prosperity in China has lifted many millions out of poverty and given rise to a whole new middle class in the world’s most populous nation. But increased wealth is translating into changing diets, and the traditional staple meal of rice, vegetable and fish or chicken is being replaced with trips to fast-food restaurants.

Dr Ning said: “With increased high-calorie, high-fat, high-sugar and high-sodium diets, decreased physical activity and more sedentary lifestyles, all factors that could lead to weight gain, diabetes and other chronic diseases are now reaching epidemic proportions in China.”

He said changes in diet and lifestyle were resulting in earlier onset of the disease, and the epidemic would worsen, with 40 per cent of 18-to-29-year-olds in danger of developing type 2 diabetes.

The researchers warned in the journal that without an effective national intervention China could face “a major epidemic of diabetes-related complications” in the near future, including cardiovascular disease, stroke and chronic kidney disease.

“We need to work hard to create a health-promoting environment, encourage self-management and strengthen public health services to ensure efficient prevention and early treatment of the disease,” he said.

Nearly 12 per cent of Chinese adults have be diagnosed with diabetes, while about 50 per cent are at the risk of developing the disease, according to the study, which means up to 114 million Chinese adults are diabetic and another 493 million are thought to be pre-diabetic.

The study investigated the prevalence of diabetes on a nationally representative sample of 98,658 Chinese adults in 2010.

China 'Catastrophe' Hits 114 Million as Diabetes Spreads

China’s diabetes epidemic is worse than previously estimated — much worse.

The most comprehensive nationwide survey for diabetes ever conducted in China shows 11.6 percent of adults, or 114 million, has the disease. The finding, published yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, adds 22 million diabetics, or the population of Australia, to a 2007 estimate and means almost one in three diabetes sufferers globally is in China.

Chinese are developing the metabolic disease at a lower body mass index than Americans, the researchers found, meaning that changes in diet and physical activity stoked by rapid economic development are resulting in an earlier onset of the obesity-linked disease. The epidemic will worsen with 40 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds on the verge of developing diabetes, which increases the risk of stroke, heart attack and kidney failure.

“Diabetes in China has become a catastrophe,” said Paul Zimmet, honorary president of the International Diabetes Federation and director emeritus of the BakerIDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne. “The booming economy in China has brought with it a medical problem which could bankrupt the health system. The big question is the capacity in China to deal with a health problem of such magnitude.”

Eclipsing U.S.

Yesterday’s report is based on a survey of a nationally representative sample of 98,658 Chinese adults in 2010. A similar survey in 2007 pegged diabetes prevalence at 9.7 percent, or 92.4 million adults. The latest results means diabetes is now more common in China than in the U.S., where 11.3 percent of adults are diabetic.

The Brussels-based International Diabetes Federation estimates there are 371 million people worldwide with the disease, including 92.3 million in China.

The increase in the prevalence of diabetes in China, estimated at about 1 percent in 1980, has been “unparalleled globally,” Zimmet said in a telephone interview.

“China is now among the countries with the highest diabetes prevalence in Asia and has the largest absolute disease burden of diabetes in the world,” wrote authors led by Guang Ning in the laboratory for endocrine and metabolic diseases at the National Health and Family Planning Commission. “Poor nutrition in utero and early life combined with over-nutrition in later life may contribute to the accelerated epidemic of diabetes in China.”

Measuring Disease

The study incorporated measurements of glycated hemoglobin A, or HbA, into its diagnosis, adopting updated guidelines from the American Diabetes Association, in addition to tests used in earlier studies: glucose readings taken after patients fasted for a period of time, and a measurement of the amount of sugar in the blood two hours after patients consumed a sweet drink.

The added criteria may have partly contributed to the increased prevalence, Guang and colleagues wrote. The scientists estimate half of adults in China, or 493.4 million people, have higher-than-normal blood glucose levels, which put them in a pre-diabetic state.

“These data document a rapid increase in diabetes in the Chinese population,” according to the study’s authors, who include researchers from Beijing’s Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Johns Hopkins University in Maryland. “Diabetes may have reached an alert level in the Chinese general population, with the potential for a major epidemic of diabetes-related complications, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, and chronic kidney disease.”

Cases Undiagnosed

Almost two-thirds of patients treated for diabetes didn’t have adequate blood-sugar control, the authors found. For every person in China diagnosed with diabetes, at least two more will be unaware they have it.

Study participants were weighed and measured to calculate their body mass index, or BMI, calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared. For example, a 5-foot, 4-inch (1.63 meter) woman weighing 175 pounds (79 kilograms) has a BMI of 30. BMI of 30 or more is considered obese, while a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight, according to the National Institutes of Health.

The average BMI in yesterday’s study was 23.7, compared with 28.7 in the U.S. population.

“Rapid lifestyle changes in China have caused rising trends in obesity, and that is now bringing out the abnormality of a people biologically more vulnerable to diabetes,” Juliana Chan, a professor of medicine and therapeutics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said in a telephone interview.

As in the rest of Asia, the burden of diabetes is falling disproportionately on the young and middle-aged, the authors said. Pre-diabetes was present in 40 percent of adults ages 18 to 29, and 47 percent among those 30 to 39.

‘Very Scary’

“The alarmingly high figures for prediabetes are very scary,” said Chan, who wrote an editorial accompanying yesterday’s study and is also the founding director of the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Institute of Diabetes and Obesity. “A lot of people think diabetes is a disease that mainly affects the elderly, but we have a very unhealthy young population that may lose their ability to work in the prime of their lives, and this would also have an impact on their families and on society,” Chan said.

China’s rising prevalence of diabetes has strained its health services and helped fuel a 20 percent-a-year growth in drug sales, stoking the need for newer and costlier medications from companies including Merck Co. (MRK), Novo Nordisk A/S (NOVOB) and Sanofi. (SAN)

China’s government is trying to fight the scourge by expanding basic medical coverage, buying more medicines in bulk to lower costs, and conducting a corruption probe of international drugmakers, including GlaxoSmithKline Plc.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Daryl Loo in Beijing at dloo7@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jason Gale at j.gale@bloomberg.net

China's Diabetes ‘Catastrophe’ Afflicts 114 Million

Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) — The most comprehensive nationwide survey for diabetes ever conducted in China shows 11.6 percent of adults, or 114 million, has the disease. The finding, published yesterday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, adds 22 million diabetics, or the population of Australia, to a 2007 estimate and means almost one in three diabetes sufferers globally is in China. Stephen Engle reports. (Source: Bloomberg)

Enlarge image
Obesity  Diabetes

Obesity Diabetes

Obesity  Diabetes

Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

A reflection of overweight patients exercising is seen at a weight loss facility in Tianjin. “Rapid lifestyle changes in China have caused rising trends in obesity, and that is now bringing out the abnormality of a people biologically more vulnerable to diabetes,” said Juliana Chan, a professor of medicine and therapeutics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

A reflection of overweight patients exercising is seen at a weight loss facility in Tianjin. “Rapid lifestyle changes in China have caused rising trends in obesity, and that is now bringing out the abnormality of a people biologically more vulnerable to diabetes,” said Juliana Chan, a professor of medicine and therapeutics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Photographer: Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

World Bank links obesity to high food prices | The Raw Story

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Worried cashier with a nearly empty cash register via Shutterstock

Food prices have dropped since peaking six months ago but remain near record levels, pushing the world’s poorest people toward “undernutrition” and obesity, the World Bank says.

“Unhealthy food tends to be cheaper than healthy ones, like junk food in developed countries,” said Otaviano Canuto, World Bank Group’s vice president for poverty reduction and economic management.

“When poor people with some disposable income in developing countries try to cope with high and increasingly volatile food prices, they also tend to choose cheap food that is high in calories but without much nutritious value.”

Between October and February, world food prices dropped by four percent overall, driven in part by wheat (minus 11 percent) and sugar (minus 10 percent), due to weaker demand for wheat feed and reduced maize consumption for ethanol as well as improved harvest conditions, according to the World Bank.

But they remain at very high levels and are just nine percent less than historic levels in August.

In February alone, prices increased one percent overall for a year-long period. The increases were especially notable for rice and corn (five percent each), two staple foods in many developing countries.

The World Bank also worried about “uncertainties” that remain in the world food supply.

Last year, global stocks of cereals dropped by three percent, mostly driven by a decline in the supply of wheat and coarse grains. Persistently dry conditions in Argentina, Australia and South Africa could also further hamper supplies in the months ahead.

Meanwhile, oil prices have been rising for three consecutive months, reaching their highest levels in February since April.

“In the ‘new normal’ of high and volatile food prices, millions will continue to suffer from poor nutrition, whether it is hunger, undernutrition or obesity which can cause premature death,” the bank stressed.

In 2008, there were 1.46 billion overweight adults, including 508 million who were obese.

That number could rise to 2.16 billion for overweight adults, and nearly double to 1.12 billion for the obese by 2030 across all regions and in fast-developing nations such as China and India, said the bank in citing “even conservative estimates.”

“Half of the world’s overweight people live in just nine countries — China, United States, Germany, India, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey — evidence that obesity is not an epidemic restricted only to rich countries,” added Canuto.

[image via Shutterstock.com]

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Interview: Pierre Chancel, Sanofi Diabetes

Pierre Chancel, Sanofi Diabetes

Many companies claim to have revolutionised therapy in areas of unmet clinical or medical need. Sanofi’s head of diabetes Pierre Chancel, however, having overseen the global launch of Lantus – the world’s first 24-hour, once-daily insulin therapy for type 1 and type 2 diabetes – is perhaps in a clear position to speak from direct experience of delivering genuine therapeutic revolution. 

Last year, Sanofi achieved €4,960m in sales from its flagship insulin brand, a far cry from its forerunner Farbwerke Hoechst, which 90 years ago was the first in Europe to provide insulin on a large-scale with constant purity and quality. However, today there’s something else on his mind: China and other emerging growth markets.

Until Sanofi Diabetes established a formalised platform for research into the prevalence of diabetes in China, in partnership with the Chinese Diabetes Society, there was no systematic record of any type 1 diabetes in China. 

It also seems that just one-third of people living with diabetes in emerging countries is even diagnosed. The vast majority have no idea they’re living with something that without treatment is an early killer.

“Understanding emerging markets isn’t all about bringing solutions. It’s also about building awareness and improving diagnosis through education. The first thing to do is to help people become aware of diabetes, its long-term effects and treatments. The type 1 diabetes situation in China is the same in Africa, where we know the hard reality is that children are dying from this disease before they can be diagnosed.”

Picture the real China
Sanofi, of course, continues to focus on diabetes in developed markets, where the incidence of type 2 diabetes continues to escalate rapidly each year.

“Yet today more people have diabetes worldwide than live in the US,” Chancel notes. “There is a skyrocketing diabetes epidemic in emerging countries. Just because the healthcare systems are less able to pay for the latest treatments, we are not released from our responsibility to make affordable innovations accessible in these regions, as well as the support programmes necessary to help people find and optimise treatment.”

He singles out China as a particular challenge: how does a large international pharmaceutical firm with headquarters in Paris make a worthwhile difference on the front line?

“It is vital to have direct local contact, to understand the people and the science, and to work in partnership as an engine delivering solutions specific to these challenges. In fact, Sanofi was one of the first of what the Chinese would say were ‘foreign’ pharmaceutical businesses to set up in China around 30 years ago, which gave us time to really understand the needs of Chinese people with diabetes and we are already a trusted partner in China.”

He is also keen to emphasise the importance of people on the ground: “We have established a group of 60 people in Shanghai to focus on discovery and development in Asia, plus around 2,000 diabetes local reps in China, which is similar to our number in the US today.”

Partnerships and programmes
Partnership is another essential facet in Sanofi’s ambition to support and increase the efficacy of the efforts to educate and diagnose, first among the company’s priorities. 

“As a pioneer in the field of diabetes, we proactively support a number of initiatives in China. The China Initiative for Diabetes Excellence (CIDE) programme is a five-year disease management programme led by the Chinese Heath Ministry.”

There is no single magic solution to treating diabetes. You can’t just take one pill and you’re fine for the rest of your life

A strong public-private partnership between Sanofi and the Chinese Diabetes Society (CDS), the Centre of Disease Control (CD) and the World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center at the International Diabetes Center will promote the career development of 500 experts in the field, providing world-class clinical and research training programmes.

“This is an unprecedented programme drawing upon Chinese and international best practice, aiming additionally to train 10,000 community and county doctors.”

Meanwhile, Sanofi’s ‘3C Study of Type 1 Diabetes in China’ partnership with the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) continues to deliver evidence of the coverage, cost and care of type 1 diabetes in China.

“As there is no formalised organisation for type 1 diabetes in China, our work with the IDF aims to create the foundation for a registry, in order to advocate improved diagnosis and disease management,” Chancel adds.

ORBIT (Observational Registry for Basal Insulin Treatment) is a study focused on type 2 diabetes in China and the result of Sanofi’s partnership with the CDS and George Institute for Global Health. 

“This programme will recruit 20,000 people in China with type 2 diabetes currently uncontrolled on oral anti-diabetic drugs, in order to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of the use of basal insulin in this patient population. It is the largest of its kind to assess and correct insulin usage through improved understanding among Chinese patients, physicians and nurses.”

Chancel is also anticipating opening the Scientific Programme at a the upcoming China Innovation Summit later this month. The first of its kind event will involve key opinion leaders (KOLs), senior Sanofi management and policy makers to share their expertise and discuss key topics for diabetes in China, along with a media event for key journalists. 

Affordable access to solutions
Beyond these key education and awareness initiatives, Chancel is also spearheading significant investment into China’s infrastructure, including a $90m project to install a high-tech Lantus cartridge aseptic production line in the Beijing Economic Technological Development Area. Opened recently by Sanofi group CEO Chris Viehbacher, this facility is designed to manufacture nearly 50 million units per year of the company’s flagship Lantus SoloStar pen.

Putting diabetes on the map in Asia is a key part of this, he notes, recalling a high-profile media event in Hong Kong in 2012, which saw Sanofi together with over 300 people with diabetes (and their families) set a Guinness World Record for the most people to test an insulin pen (Lantus SoloStar) in one place (Prince of Wales Hospital).

Considering itself an active member of Chinese society, Sanofi Diabetes is driven by a responsibility to work with government, the scientific community and patients to control the diabetes epidemic of diabetes, Chancel asserts.

Building on this, he acknowledges not only the need for investment in local processes and jobs, but also the vital need to provide innovative diabetes treatments and devices to the local population in emerging markets. 

“What we need for emerging countries are solutions that are provided at fair cost. In the real world this means as cheap as possible, but that does not mandate that we lower our standards. Our new AllStar insulin pen for instance, launched in India last November and will be made accessible in other emerging markets, is designed specifically to serve the needs of people with diabetes in emerging markets – industry gold-standard pen technology with a cost multiple lower than for developed markets, accordingly.”

Designed and developed in India for Asian people living with diabetes, he cites this as an example of “how we are making not only medicines but also devices and delivery systems accessible to people in these regions”.

Chancel is also confident about its prospects: “Not only is this much higher quality than what was previously available, but everyone using Lantus in India will be using this pen. In China, with its complex, multi-layered healthcare provision, we have also adopted a two-tier pricing offer to ensure our products are affordable. So we have the Lantus SoloStar disposable pen as one option, plus the new AllStar pen.”

Integrated solutions as the emerging future 
His vision for the coming years is that Sanofi will bring integrated and personalised solutions to Chinese patients, including oral anti-diabetic drugs, insulins, glucose monitoring devices, plus further enhanced services to help patients achieve better outcomes.

“There is no single magic solution to treating diabetes. You can’t just take one pill and you’re fine for the rest of your life, as it is an evolving and complex disease. It doesn’t need to be complicated, but there is a clear and significant benefit to integrating the various options.”

Key among these for Sanofi is Lyxumia (lixisenatide), the company’s new GLP-1 receptor agonist, which is planned for first launch in Germany following European approval and has been accepted for review by the US  Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“With a single daily injection and only one step to maintenance dose, Lyxumia offers a positive addition to the Sanofi portfolio as a simple new tool to help patients with type 2 diabetes further reduce HbA1c, with the benefit of weight loss and limited risk of hypoglycaemia.”

The company sees particular potential for Lyxumia as a combination with basal insulin in those patients whose type 2 diabetes (as measured by HBA1c levels) remains uncontrolled due to poorly controlled post-prandial glucose (PPG), despite controlled fasting plasma glucose (FPG).

Added to this innovation is its burgeoning blood glucose monitoring business, buoyed by last year’s launch of its BGStar and iBGStar monitors; the latter offering connectivity with Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch devices in a bid to optimise their convenience for users. 

In looking forwards, Chancel briefly brings to mind the heritage, starting in the 1920s with ‘Hoechst insulin’, that underlines everything the company does today and will do tomorrow. 

“Does our heritage really impact our future? Of course it does. Hoechst was an innovator, but more than that it was committed to transforming science, both homegrown and in partnership with others, into safe, effective medicines that ultimately improved the health and lives of many millions of people worldwide. Our ambition is a direct succession within this spirit, which is why we have developed a whole portfolio of integrated solutions for diabetes management worldwide, and it’s why we are pioneering new affordable solutions in many emerging markets such as China and India.”

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Dalai Lama, Obama, Ding Dong

As the saying goes, “you can’t please all of the people all of the time” and Barack Obama is certainly finding that to be the case after his seemingly innocuous meeting with the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader. It seems that Obama’s rendezvous last Friday has upset the Chinese who made an 11th hour appeal to the U.S. leader requesting that he scrap plans to meet with the Dalai Lama, citing strong objections from within the houses of power in Beijing.

Hong Lei, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry left a statement on their website just hours before the Dalai Lama’s arrival at the White House, “We firmly oppose any foreign official to meet with the Dalai Lama in any form. We request the U.S. side to honor its serious commitment that recognizes Tibet as part of China and opposes Tibet independence.”

President Obama meets the Dalai Lamam in the White House map room

Obama's invitation to the Dalai Lama has upset China's leaders.

Obama has also been under pressure from pro-Tibetan activists who criticised him for delaying his invitation to the Dalai Lama during his stay in the capital city, but White House representatives claimed that the president had been extremely occupied with debt-negotiations.

Big Trouble in Big China

Tibet has been a region in exile from China since 1959 after a crackdown forced their spiritual leader to flee. The Chinese government have stressed that he and his followers are free to return to China provided he drops his separatist beliefs, chooses to recognise Taiwan and Tibet as part of China and conforms to Chinese ruling.

Tibet, a contested region of China

China would like to see Tibet back under their wing.

China’s tight grip on its power is escalating at the moment with anyone showing any sign of dissent being locked up and made an example of. Journalists, writers, artists and even school teachers have been the subject of police state behaviour as the country lives in fear of uprisings seen in countries like Egypt, Yemen and Libya recently.

Sources inside the country claim it is becoming more of a fascist state than a communist ruling.

Strained relations with China

The Dalai Lama has been on an 11 day visit to the United States as part of a Buddhist ritual. His arrival was celebrated by thousands of Tibetan expatriates who celebrated his 76th birthday with him last Wednesday.

His visit to the White House was kept very low-key and the media were not invited to attend. Obama held the meeting in the map room instead of the Oval Office which is normally reserved for exclusive visits by heads of states and it is thought that this was done so to quell any upset the meeting might cause relations with China.

Potasi Monastery in Tibet

Obama supports Tibetan culture and its human rights movement.

The session lasted for just 45 minutes and talks of resolution between Tibet and China were thought to be the main focus as well as Obama’s support for Tibetan culture and their human rights agenda.

This isn’t the first time Barack Obama has met the Dalai Lama, the pair first held counsel back in February of 2010, but this latest and more controversial meeting comes just a week ahead of Hilary Rodham Clinton’s scheduled visit to Shenzhen, a city situated in the south of China, while Vice President Joseph Biden is also attending meetings in China throughout the summer before the Chinese VP, Xi Jinping, flies to the U.S. in the autumn.

Tell us your thoughts on the Dalai Lama’s visit to America by leaving a comment.

Read about Obama’s ‘Sputnik‘ moment, his speech after Osama Bin Laden’s alleged killing, competition from Ron Paul, and his personal battle with nicotine.

images: White House/flickr.com, vagobond.com, freetibet.org, maps2anywhere.com, dismalworld.com


Royal Wedding is an all out media assault

In a world saturated by media coverage, an event as huge as the marriage of Prince William of Wales and Kate Middleton means that every minutiae of the occasion will be repeatedly fired at us for months to come by news cannons and TV Exocets; beating us into submission.

We live in a world controlled by media; our thoughts are redirected and reprogrammed as we watch and most of us don’t even realise it. Divisions are created which appeal to our tribal instincts; we join a side and chant for our leaders or heroes without much in the way of basis as to why – it just suits us.

You are free do to what we tell you

Go back to bed world, you are free to do as we tell you

The biggest problem with the Royal Wedding is not the unending conjecture; the fawning over a ‘commoner’ turned princess, the fact that some will discuss the dress for decades or even the snobbery displayed by the media who seem to think they are part of the aristocracy on such occasions. No, the real issue is that almost every channel (barring Animal Planet and only because they couldn’t run with the ’Royal Family are reptiles’ angle) is dedicated to the Royal matrimony for the entire day which means that while a large proportion of society watches on and gushes with joy, the real stories such as Libya, Yemen and Egypt are being pushed to the back of the queue.

China crank up the oppression but Kate Middleton looks fabulous in her wedding dress. No sparkly beading though.

While half the world fights for its freedom Prince William and Kate Middleton hog all the media.

Yes a wedding is a happy occasion, but this all out media assault is tantamount to TV fascism. We have no choice (barring Animal Planet)but to watch or switch off the television. We are being force-fed something which should really be carried out privately. We are not friends or family; we are the subservient masses who fund this empire with our blood, sweat, tears, deaths and taxes, and to have the gregarious pomp and extravagant splendour of the Royal excess rubbed in our faces is frankly insulting.

George W. Bush imposes nazi like sanctions against American people with the patriot act

The media has been waging a fascistic war on our minds for decades

While China continues to crush even the mildest dissident cases in a bid to stem uprisings before they happen and Libyan people struggle to overthrow a monster who has butchered and tortured ‘his people’ for 42 years, we are diverted away from that to watch a balding, wet-lipped twenty-something with medals on his chest that even war veterans never get awarded, as he marries a girl who has already been shot down as ‘not as beautiful as Diana’, putting the utmost pressure on her to fulfil a role that was created by the media and which ultimately cost the people their first princess.

The royals are a relic of an age long gone, yet they still retain power. In essence they are no more important than a homeless person; they rose to power at a time when the population was so small and disenfranchised that their control went unnoticed, yet today the masses still adhere and pander to their illegitimate leadership.

The people hold the true power

Choose the right to choose, don't be dictated to by money grabbing media elites

The future of the world is uncertain, it hangs in the balance right now and there are so many revolutions happening both physically and spiritually that something has to give. A royal wedding is nothing more than a scam designed to divert our attention away from the reality of life and make us forget, at least for a few hours, that the world needs those who are hardy enough to stand up and make it a better place.

And fight we must.

Please leave a comment with your thoughts on the media’s blanket bombing of our right to choose.

Read about the Libyan conflict; how celebs are used to divert our attention; and how they get in with evil murderers and the spin on Qaddafi being sane.

images: techdigest.tv; guardian.co.uk; trending-news.org; offensivestuff.com; americaspeaksink.com; firmandcorrect.wordpress.com