Inter-American Dialogue

Cuba references skyrocketed today on Sina Weibo, China’s increasingly popular Twitter/Facebook hybrid. Chinese micro-bloggers have been circulating and commenting on a Cuba-related article that was published in today’s People’s Daily (人民日报), the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party. The article, which provides results from a survey on medical care in seventy countries around the world, was referred to more than 10,000 times on Weibo following its release.  It states that Cuba, of all of the countries surveyed, is the only one that provides universal free access to health care.

In reaction to the article, China’s micro-bloggers provided opinions on the types of services that a proclaimed socialist state ought to offer (free health care, education, etc.). Some questioned why Cuba, which has made little progress in terms of economic development, is able to offer much better social services than China.  China’s healthcare system has faced growing criticism in recent years. Quality and access issues in rural areas and among China’s migrant workers have prompted calls for extensive reform of the social welfare system in China’s 12th Five-Year Plan.

Other Cuba-related comments this week focused on the recent special report on the Cuban economy in The Economist.

‘War on Democracy’
A subtitled version of ‘War on Democracy,’ an independent film by Christopher Martin and John Pilger, is circulating on China’s social media sites. The film, which was first released in 2007 and which focuses primarily on the US-Latin America relationship, is highly critical of United States intervention in foreign countries’ domestic affairs. The subtitled version has been posted and reposted more than 3,000 times on Sina Weibo over the past month. Micro-bloggers tend to agree with the film’s message, although some consider it biased.

Chile Earthquake
Micro-bloggers commented extensively on the March 25 earthquake in Chile, with approximately 920 posts referencing ‘Chile’ in the twelve hours following the quake. Most offered support for those affected by the earthquake, while others remarked on the relatively low number of casualties following both the Chile earthquake and the recent quake in Mexico. Some made reference to Chinese government incompetence with respect to disaster response and emergency management.