Collective mobilisation and transnational solidarity to combat Aids in China : local dynamics and visibility of groups defending sexual and social minorities

Abstract : The spread of Aids and fears raised by the risk of an epidemic are not only the driving force behind social change but also give pointers to the reasons for these changes, as many studies have shown today on a global scale. In China, as in other non-western countries, one of the significant social changes that we observe is the emergence and greater visibility of groups or activists to defend sexual and social minorities, a phenomenon which has created on a national scale a civil society, social organisations and movements with “Chinese characteristics”. For ten years, from the time that we first became aware of the risk of an Aids epidemic and its potential seriousness in Chinese society, some of the most committed anti-Aids activists have also been fierce defenders of the rights of homosexuals. This is reminiscent of the model for action implemented in the 1980s in the developed countries. Over the last few years, for example, these militants have worked to denounce the scandal of the “HIV-contaminated blood sellers” in the central provinces of China. The anti-Aids activism was a pointer to the presence in China of the potential growth of gay/lesbian movements in the large cities, especially Peking and the major towns in North-East China.This article is divided into two parts: the first deals with the local dynamics of Aids prevention, describing (1) committed activists wearing several “hats” (one official, one anti-Aids activist and finally one gay activist), (2) social organisations working alongside or in confrontation with the State, (3) informal groups or networks defending sexual and social minorities. These dynamics have an impact on the stigma associated with HIV and these minorities and could contribute in the long term to a degree of de-stigmatisation. In the second part of the article I look at transnational dynamics, identifying transnational actors and their role as “go-between” (Taiwanese, Hong Kongese who since 1999 have Chinese citizenship, Chinese from South-East and western Asia) as they may have more influence in interactions with militants and the Chinese populations, and thus in influencing local dynamics where collective mobilisation in the face of Aids is concerned. The intervention of “go-betweens” from the North (westerners of non-Chinese origin) can also be seen. The role of NICT (New Information and Communication Technologies), especially forums and networks developed at different levels through Internet -intra-regional and trans-regional in China, transnational in China and Asia, and also international- is described: the use of NICT and the creation of networks are characteristic of the process of economic and cultural globalisation at work today in the world. The formation of transnational solidarity groups is also a form of globalisation, “social” this time, more discreet and not yet very developed compared with the more comprehensive forms of economic globalisation.
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Evelyne Micollier. Collective mobilisation and transnational solidarity to combat Aids in China : local dynamics and visibility of groups defending sexual and social minorities. Face to face. Perspectives on Health, 2005, pp. 30-38. ⟨ird-00439935⟩

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