China university allegedly expels student for having genetic blood disease haemophilia

BEIJING (AFP) - A student in Beijing is suing his university after he was allegedly expelled for having the rare hereditary blood disease haemophilia, reports said on Friday, the latest case in China's long history of medical discrimination.

The student, identified by the pseudonym Zheng Qing, is suing the China Institute of Industrial Relations after he was officially expelled earlier this month, the government-run Global Times reported. He was previously pressured into leaving the school last September.

The 21-year-old journalism major applied to be excused from mandatory military training on account of his haemophilia, a genetic disorder in which a patient's blood does not clot properly, forcing them to have regular transfusions to replace the missing clotting protein.

The disease is not contagious, and Mr Zheng would not be able to infect his fellow classmates. But the school expelled him under a 2003 Education Ministry rule saying that universities could "refuse the admission of students who have serious blood diseases".

The student's lawyer, Mr Wang Qiushi, was quoted as saying that regulation referred to students who "cannot finish their studies or cannot take care of themselves".

China has a long history of ostracising patients suffering from certain illnesses.

People with HIV and Aids have faced discrimination in the Chinese job market for years and foreigners with the virus were banned from obtaining visas until 2010.

In December, more than 200 people signed a petition to expel an HIV-positive eight-year-old boy from their village, prompting a national debate and highlighting the stigma involved.