Wife of Detained Chinese AIDS Activist Urges President Bush, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to Push for His Release
The wife of Chinese AIDS activist Wan Yanhai, who disappeared in Beijing approximately two weeks ago, yesterday asked President Bush and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to lobby Chinese President Jiang Zemin on Wan's behalf, Reuters reports. Su Zhaosheng, Wan's wife, said over the weekend that Chinese government officials have acknowledged that Wan is in custody for disclosing a classified document related to HIV infections in Henan province (Reuters, 9/10) . Wan, who founded the AIDS Action Project, disappeared on Aug. 24. Wan was a key figure in exposing through a Web site the connection between unsafe blood collection practices and HIV infections in Henan between 1994 and 1997, and officials from the State Security Bureau on Thursday told one of Wan's colleagues that Wan was being held for posting on his Web site a classified document prepared by the Henan Health Bureau that indicated that officials in the province "were well aware of a serious HIV problem as early as 1995" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/9). Su said that Wan would not "do anything to hurt his country [or] his people" and he has simply tried to "continue collaboration with the Chinese government to help prevent" the spread of HIV. "There is absolutely no reason why he should be detained," she said (Reuters, 9/10).
Official 'Backtracks' on Generic Drug Statements
In related news, A Chinese health official who last week indicated that the country may be ready to issue compulsory licenses for the manufacture of generic versions of patented antiretroviral drugs has "appear[ed] to backtrack" from these claims, stating that the government plans to adhere to international patent laws, the Asian Wall Street Journal reports (Asian Wall Street Journal, 9/10). Qi Xiaoqiu, director general of the Ministry of Health's Department of Disease Control, stated Friday at a press conference that the Chinese government may be forced to break patents on antiretroviral drugs to treat its estimated one million HIV-positive residents if foreign drug makers do not agree to additional price cuts by early next year (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/9). Qi said yesterday that although the government is seeking discounts on patented drugs, it will not violate intellectual property rights, adding, "We are strictly adhering to patent law and will continue to do so in the future." Qi said that China is a "responsible country" that will not "act hastily to issue compulsory licenses." China has been "wary" of violating international patents on antiretroviral drugs, particularly because the country was recently inducted into the World Trade Organization. The WTO last year ratified an agreement that allows countries to manufacture generic versions of patented drugs in instances of public health emergency (Asian Wall Street Journal, 9/10).