Operate on Liu Xiang? Sorry, I’m due on the 14th fairway.

News that Liu Xiang may travel to the US for surgery on his injured ankle has produced much defensive teeth-gnashing on the part of Chinese sports fans. Here at Shanghai Scrap, we can’t help but wonder whether the Great Hurdler might have been able to run if the Chinese sports establishment had repressed its pride when this problem first came up, and went looking for a doctor who wasn’t afraid of being blamed for an ineffective diagnosis and treatment. Put differently, what Mainland Chinese surgeon wants to give the post-op news conference announcing that Liu Xiang’s surgery was successful, and he’s recovering comfortably? And that’s keeping in mind that surgeons are – in my experience – a rather cocky lot.

[For cognoscenti, this is a fine example of the “Who Wants to Take Responsibility?” scenario responsible for much of recent Chinese history life.]

So it’s almost certainly off to the US for surgery, followed by a soon-as-possible return to China attendant with state-media coverage of Liu’s Traditional Chinese Medicine-aided post-op recovery. Nothing wrong with that, of course. It just makes me wonder if this all could have been accomplished, say, two years ago, when the problem was already evident to Liu, his trainers (and probably the Politburo).

[Special China Daily Addendum: I have never, not once, recommended the turgid and unpleasant comment threads at China Daily. But there’s a first time for everything, and today it comes courtesy of a comment posted by one George Hwang, who attempts to rationalize the (perceived) loss of national face resulting from Liu’s US surgery by pointing out:

The US is very good in this field, and I’d a couple of athletes who regained use of the Achilles tendon after operations. So it’s not a bad idea to go to the US for treatment, just as for years some American universities have sent their students to China to learn about the uses of acupuncture not only for drug addicts, but also for animals. Because of Chinese experience in sterilizations, many American doctors have gone to China to learn the latter’s innovative techniques which were not only quick, but did not require hospitalization (patients could, amazingly, hop out of the operation room and start working that very day).

I go back and forth on this. Is George Hwang really an anti-“family planning” activist in sports fan’s clothing? Or is he serious? And, okay I’ll bite – does anybody actually know of US doctors traveling to China to learn the country’s advanced sterilization techniques?

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