Pity The Chinese Bureaucrat

China’s bureaucracy is unhealthy, bloated, irritated and basically substandard.

So says a new privately run study on the health of the nation’s civil servants. Local media have been breathlessly summarizing the newly released study (in Chinese here), which says that some 98.5% of Chinese bureaucrats suffer from poor health.

Sky Canaves
Official feasting takes its toll

The findings are gleaned from a white paper published jointly by a Beijing-based chain of clinics, Ciming Checkup Group, and the related Beijing Health Association, as well as an arm of the People’s Daily newspaper, the reports said.

Public surveys in China aren’t always rigorously scientific. The precision of this one isn’t entirely clear, but it is being billed as huge, at least. Officials were canvassed in 589 cities nationwide and they answered 92,320 questionnaires, the media reports say.

Many of the most common ailments are those of over-indulgence.

Some 40.7% are overweight and 34% reported cervical spondylosis (abnormal wear on the cartilage and bones of the neck), while 28% suffered faucitis, 20% chronic enteritis and 20% fatty liver.

The itch of hemorrhoids is also a problem: 24% of Chinese officials surveyed identified themselves as sufferers.

Working in officialdom creates a pressure-cooker atmosphere, the respondents said. They marked Beijing as especially tough, followed by other big cities including Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Nanjing. Hypertension among officials stood at 18.9%.

Three quarters of officials said their necks hurt, while 60% said their eyes felt heavy. Psychologically, 49% reported being tired and almost as many felt “flattened.” Males were worse off than females.

Overall, only 25% of the bureaucrats reported being happy and 28% satisfied.

The report concluded that officials may face more pressure than ordinary folks due to their additional responsibilities in leadership. It noted striking a balance in career and family is difficult, and is worsened by irregular sleep and unhealthy diets.

The officials reported feeling burdened and unable to relax by the never ending pileup of important tasks (the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan) and noteworthy events (the Olympics last August) and other responsibilities requiring their attention (the 60th anniversary of Communist Party rule in October).

–James T. Areddy