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The Three Bodies problem and Chinese outbound health tourism

The Three Bodies problem and Chinese outbound health tourism

Dear reader,

Ten years ago the English translation of the first part of the Science Fiction trilogy Remembrance of Earth's Past by Liu Cixin was published, called The Three Bodies Problem, with the other two parts following shortly after. Originally, they had been published in China between 2006 and 2010, basically starting the genre in China. In 2015, the author was the first Chinese ever receiving the Hugo Award, the equivalent of the Oscar in the Science Fiction literature world.

Your humble editor used to be a fan of 1970s SciFi novels, which often were actually philosophical and political treatises masquerading as Science Fiction. When science stopped being so attractive anymore and the future started to look increasingly bleak, the authors moved on to childish fantasy and fairy tales, not worth the time reading it.

Liu Cixin’s work however is a complex reflection on human and human-alien relations from a Chinese perspective, complicated but fascinating. In the Dark Forest, the second volume, the hero explains the Fermi Paradox, why Earth has never been visited by extraterrestrials, when the likelihood of the existence is so great. His hypothesis is that there is life everywhere in the galaxy, but since growth is constant and resources are finite, each galactic civilization is strongly incentivized to destroy any others upon discovery. The only defense against this is to remain unnoticed. Who would not be reminded by this approach of Deng Xiaoping's advice that China should "keep a low profile" (tao guang yang hui)?

In recent weeks the Three Bodies Problem has become famous as Netflix spent 160 million USD to turn the “umfilmable” opus into a Netflix series. The Netflix show debuted with 11 million views in its first four days and has remained among Netflix's most-watched programmes since its release on 21 March, 2024.

Why is this of any relevance for China’s outbound health tourism? Wait and see. One of the reasons why affluent Chinese are seeking a second opinion about their health abroad from doctors who certainly do not know them and have no connection with China has been reported that they do not trust their own doctors. Competitors or unfaithful wives could bribe them to administer the wrong treatment or hide serious illnesses like cancer from them, speeding up their demise. What may sound like paranoia, just got illustrated by the death sentence for the man who murdered the owner of the film rights of the Three Bodies Problem by giving him poison pills.

In fact, the death sentence was declared in a Shanghai courtroom just a day after the Netflix show's release for the murder of China's "billionaire millennial", the gaming tycoon Lin Qi, whose company Yoozoo Games owns the rights for film adaptations of the Chinese science fiction epic. The murderer, Mr. Xu Yao, was known as a distinguished lawyer, but was sidelined by Lin after he helped to land the Netflix deal in 2020. Lin and Xu were reportedly on good terms at the start, as Xu successfully clinched the deal to adapt the novel into a Netflix original series. However, after other executives were put in charge of business operations for it, Xu began a thorough plot. He set up a company in Japan to acquire lethal substances and even tested them on animals. Xu then disguised the substances as probiotic pills and gave them to Lin. Within ten days at the end of 2020 Lin died, aged 39. Xu was detained within a few days, but only now sentenced.

Let’s hope that this is rather the exception than the norm in how conflicts and hurt feelings are dealt with in the top 1% of China’s society. In any case, to offer a thorough check-up with modern machinery or a spiritual check-up using shamanistic rituals with high prices but complete anonymity will find the interest among those too rich to trust.

Please do not forget, if you have not done so already, to apply for the CTW Chinese Tourist Welcome Award 2024. COTRI is welcoming applications now. If you are interested, just send a short mail to CTW.award@meaningful-tourism.com.

As always, best regards from Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Georg Arlt and the entire COTRI INTELLIGENCE team!