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China vs. Mexico in the Battle of Swine Flu

China and Mexico are battling over China's treatment of Mexicans traveling to China in the wake of the H1N1 outbreak in Mexico. More than 100 Mexicans have been quarantined even though many have not had any contact with the disease. Now the two governments, who are bickering publicly about the issue, are talking about dispatching planes to each other's country to pick up their nationals. The Wall Street Journal has the best piece so far on China's treatment of Mexicans.

One Mexican family was rousted out of bed in the middle of the night and quarantined. A Mexican businessman was quarantined when he came to China from Thailand, even though he hadn't been back to Mexico. It makes you wonder: would China be meting out this type of treatment to people from developed countries?

The only confirmed case of swine flu in China is a 25-year-old Mexican in Hong Kong. CNN is reporting that officials there have quarantined nearly 350 people in relation to his case.

Obviously, China is worried about swine flu and must take steps to protect its people. It learned a rough lesson in 2003 with SARS, which Chinese authorities basically allowed to spread unchecked throughout China and overseas for five months so as not to interfere with the Spring Festival travel season and then with the yearly meeting of the legislature in Beijing. So this time the Party is going to do things differently. But will targeting people with Mexican passports really stop H1N1's spread?

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Comments (38)

Chan1 Author Profile Page:

Oops, wrong place to put that last comment of mine. I will try to re-post on the relevant blog

Chan1 Author Profile Page:

Thanks so much for the compliments and the recommendation of my article. (I guess there's no need to explain Chan1 here is actually Chan on my blogsite).

I like your last post very much. You are most welcomed to write articles on my site in the future if you ever want to as long as it fits the blogsite motto of "Providing Alternate Views to Current Issues" (alternate as in alternate to the mainstream media).
I am happy to hear that you like China, but not everyone who reads these articles are like youself. We do need to strike a balance. If you believe you have a balanced view, just understand that the more you read these articles, this "balanced" view would shift while you still believe you have a balanced view.
Just to give you an example, I did re-read your comments about the "China-can-never-do-wrong" people. You WERE actually either referring to me or at least includung me in that category. And all I did was ask a question. While I am not at all offended, it does show that even China-lovers like yourself ARE very much influenced by the flood of these one-sided reports. Imagine what these would do to the average person.
You may argue that I am also one-sided, but I would ONLY do this to counter the mainstream which artificially turns China into an evil empire, and has already succeeded in shaping the public's opinion. I do not, and have never, volunteered any accusations against other countries unless provoked. If anything, you DO need people such as myself and Citizenofthepost to keep the balance.

Observer88 Author Profile Page:

Chan1 - sorry, you misunderstood. I wasn't even originally commenting on your post. I love China, and travel there 3 times a year. Have done so for the past 8 years. Love the people, love the history, love the culture, love the friendliness.

Let me convey something though that is true around the world - criticizing a government is not criticizing its people, especially in the case of China, where the people haven't chosen the government. I am reminded all the time when I travel by people from around the world - "We like Americans, but we are not crazy about the current American government."

So, please stop looking for "anti-China propaganda" wherever you think you can find it, and just ask yourself, and comment where appropriate, on the topic at hand, not all this useless equivocating.

Chan1 Author Profile Page:

That's because of your attitude. You call people names when he/she asks a question you don't like, or have an opinion that doesn't match with yours.

I would not argue with people simply because they raise a valid point against the Chinese. I only argue with anti-China folks.

One way you can tell if someone is simply making a valid complaint or making a political comment is to see if the person would have said the same thing against another government if they were to do the same thing. And thus my question.

There is nothing wrong with my question. And yet you respond by calling me names. To me, that proves you weren't just making a complaint, but trying to spread anti-China propaganda

Observer88 Author Profile Page:

Why is it on these discussion threads on China that every time someone suggests that a bit of brutality and thuggery occurred by government thugs (which do exist by the way) that there's always some effort to equivocate it with a Western country, as though its all the same? The real question is, is it right, or is it wrong? I'm sure there are other discussion threads about U.S. immigration policies, British quarantining practices, and the L.A.P.D. But raising these other issues still doesn't answer the fundamental question of whether you believe the Chinese government was right or wrong in any given situation to do what it did.

Chan1 Author Profile Page:


No, I am not one of those in the "China-can-never-do-wrong crowd" (as you call them). In fact, I wasn't even defending what happened. All I did was ask you a question. And there is no reason why I can't ask you a valid question.

But it seems that anyone who raise questions you don't like are automatically a "China-can-never-do-wrong" person. You need to change your attitude.


(By the way, according to the Singapore TV channel NewsAsia, the Chinese tried their best to keep the quarantined Mexicans as comfortable as possible, even going as far as serving some of them full-course Peking Duck meals for dinner. I guess your media wouldn't tell you that)

generalyuefei Author Profile Page:

To Chan1,

You can't compare China to Brits, in England discrimination is legalized and protected, people do that on street all the time, like a part of their culture and human rights.

generalyuefei Author Profile Page:

To Observer88,

LAPD also broke in people's house in midnight, to arrest Mexicans that sell drugs, and some of did not wear underwear, and they stood outside naked, been laughed by both the cops and neighbors.

But drug won't kill you immediately, but Flu will.

Peter34 Author Profile Page:

A little twist and black becomes white and white black.

Observer88 Author Profile Page:

Screening inbound airline passengers is fine. Hauling people off of airplanes and out of their hotels in the middle of the night and sending them all to a crappy Chinese hotel because of their race, is well, blunt and uncivilized. But I guess it's just like Jackie Chan said - Chinese people prefer to be controlled by their government, which is why the China-can-never-do-wrong crowd is surprised at why China's behavior makes people uncomfortable.

Chan1 Author Profile Page:

I believe the Brits also quarantined Chinese travellors, with or without symptoms, during the SARS crisis. Did you criticize them?

Observer88 Author Profile Page:

To quote favorite line China use all the time, I think China has "deeply hurt the feelings of the Mexican people."

Citizenofthepost-Americanworld Author Profile Page:

Truth will set us free...

"University of Montreal spokeswoman Sophie Langlois said. The group includes 23 Canadian students. Langlois said the group also includes three French citizens, one Swiss citizen, a Nigerian and a German."


generalyuefei Author Profile Page:

---But will targeting people with Mexican passports really stop H1N1's spread?---


1st, if Those Mexicans got the flu, they can be treated immediately, without Chinese Green Card, They were humanly and respectfully cared with best efforts for their sickness. So they would not die from the flu.

2nd, it is also a good for people who live in China, whether citizens or foreigners that they would have less possibility to get the flu from high potential people.

But are Mexicans treated equally or highly as Americans in US?

I doubt, according how US government ignored millions and millions Mexicans are considered as illegals, who can hold their basic human rights to legally claim their share of American dream, but only slave in the bathrooms and restaurant basement of every American family and business.

They, the Mexicans, are the 20 and 21 century of American and US government.

How many Mexicans died yearly from their health protection of any slow or quick developed disease in US, because they are illegal. So they are legally to be ignored as human being.

As long as US government recognizes that no Americans want to clean their toilet and work in dirty factories and sweat in the hot summer basement, then those Mexicans are willing to slave to make bucks to save their family at their home. Then all people agreed, they to sell their life to slave, they are illegal, even they bring forth children for America. but they are legally to be ignored forever, and in the end, the future American blame on their government, and government will defends itself the It Was The Law.

American fought about slavery from civil war to 1960s, let us see when American again would stand out and march out with their rights to free those Mexican slaves that were tricked into this Dream.

wokwithpeace Author Profile Page:

Wouldn't you play the "safe than sorry" strategy in protecting the lives of your citizens. This is call policing. Plus knowing that 100% of deaths from this strain of H1N1 flu virus are Mexican citizens put the individual nationals to unfair seclusion by foreign authorities. But this should be understandable and not unjust discrimination.

peace4all1 Author Profile Page:

First and utmost, Chinese government acts fully in line with the recommendations of WHO in taking strict preventive measures to stop the spread of an potential deadly epidemic. Chinese government not only has the duty to protect its own citizens but also the world population by aggressive limiting the disease from spreading even further.
During the SARS scare, all oversea Chinese restaurants have been discriminated against. Therefore I've full sympathy for all Mexican citizens what they have suffered on their overseas stays.
However this article failed to pint out that the Mexican Ambassador to Beijing claimed on 4/27 that this Swine Flu came from China even though there was no detection of Swine Flu in China yet and no pork meat ever exported from China to Mexico. This baseless claim was later denied by WHO official and Chinese Foreign ministry http://www.thestar.com/World/Columnist/article/625704ttp
Today China is one of the first countries that offer medical and disaster aids to Mexico for fighting against this Swine Flu crisis. I guess that Beijing also wants to send a strong signal that the days of singling out China for every problem in the world for nothing is over!

Citizenofthepost-Americanworld Author Profile Page:

Just to make sure nobody feels left out...

In the group of Canadian students who have been quarantined (they are in China for two and a half months on an exchange program, learning Mandarin), one finds six "visiting foreign students", among them two Germans and one from an unspecified African country.

All seem to be taking it all in strides, playing ping pong, drinking beer... and learning Mandarin.



hawksmoor Author Profile Page:

thmak, guess it was epic fail on my part, i wanted to sound sarcastic...

Citizenofthepost-Americanworld Author Profile Page:

Canada vs. China, no Battle of Swine Flu... -- "Quarantine legitimate: WHO"

"Hans Troeddson, a World Health Organization official in China, told CBC News that although the quarantines are inconvenient for travellers, China is not doing anything wrong.

It is up to each country to determine how it attempts to control the outbreak of the disease, Troeddson said. What China has done so far is in accordance with its policies, he said.

"It's really up to each country and should be in accordance with their own regulations and legislation on public health and protection of the population."

China's size and population density mean a swine flu outbreak could be catastrophic, he said." ***


"Chinese officials quarantine Canadian university students"


thmak Author Profile Page:

To Hawksmoor: You are so willfully biased against China. USA Government as matter of fact proceeds to round up everyone who has had contact with the suspected militants in Iraq. So you are equally outraged that they woke someone up or even shoot missiles at them in the middle of the night just because they might be suspected as terrorists in Iraq. USA Home Security office is constantly focusing more attention on American Iraqis to find out if they support the Iraqi militants and is probably a sign of their xenophobia and racism. I hope you understand.

hawksmoor Author Profile Page:

Hmm it's so like to Chinese government to overreact with racist and draconian measures, as the facts clearly indicate.

A city in the tropics with high population density discovers a case of infectious disease that the CDC confirms spreads by close contact and has the WHO concerned it might become a pandemic.

Government proceeds to round up everyone who has had contact with the infected 25 year-old Mexican including airplane passengers, taxi drivers, people in the hotel - though it's really because they are Mexicans, even the French Mexicans - give them antiviral drugs, and keep them quarantined for a week.

I am equally outraged that they woke someone up in the middle of the night just because they might be carrying an infectious disease, instead of picking them up at a nice, densely packed shopping mall, maybe couple days later.

Focusing more attention on Mexicans is probably a sign of their xenophobia and racism, not because it's the country the disease originated, and where all but one fatalities occurred. They discriminate because Mexico is not a better developed nation. It's too bad Mexicans don't look like middle easterners or they could take a chapter out of our book and come up with a much better excuse to detain people.

asjbiotek Author Profile Page:

"It makes you wonder: would China be meting out this type of treatment to people from developed countries?"

Uh, check your facts. China has quarantined Canadians, French, etc. It doesn't matter to them.

More power to them since they seem to know what they're doing.

Better safe than sorry.

dobermantmacleod Author Profile Page:

America is inordinately concerned with individual rights. Perhaps it is because our population is about 300 million, whereas China's population numbers over 1.5 billion (5X of the US). I know US citizens feel they are being highminded, but ironically this thin veneer of civilization will quickly crumble in the case of a pandemic of highly contagious AND extremely lethal disease. Frankly, I think US citizens are immature because they are prescribing a set of values that are ultimately transitory, and will inevitably be abandoned when push comes to shove.

For example: the US was tested during 9/11 when the country was thrown a loop by a "catastrophic attack." Quickly the government authorized torture, indefinate incarceration without trial, and preventative invasion of foreign countries.

In my opinion, the US won't be able to sustain a high technology society without a paradigm shift away from the idealistic of inalienable individual rights to a more rational value of group rights. By the way, individuals can now construct highly contagious extremely lethal virus due to the science of genomics. By blindly and immaturely prescribing cosmopolitain distribution of genomic technology, we are setting the stage for a dramatic decrease in the Earth's population of humans.

leegan02 Author Profile Page:

What if the US Center for Disease Control reported that a couple of Chinese nationals were found with this virus in the USA? What would happen if the US government decided to quarantine every single Chinese student, tourist and business person against their will for at least a week or more?

There would be a huge uproar in China. Allegations of racism and anti-Chinese political bias by the United States would dominate the air waves and Internet message boards. This would be the likely outcome.

If the US does that, I doubt China will be pointing fingers as they will be focused on controlling the disease. Preventing death and stopping the disease is always the first priority in this case. I also doubt any reasonable Chinese people will want to visit another country when they are sick. Nobody likes to be quarantined, you feel singled out as an outsider, which all humans fear as in every person is the desire for others to accept/like them.

Mexico is getting medical aid from China and other countries to stop the disease. As for China's reaction to the disease, every country needs to take in account its own people and situation. Whether it is really deadly or not, Chinese government cannot let it the disease spread no matter what, otherwise Chinese citizens will accuse the government of not protecting their interests.

Your accusation that Chinese people will allege discrimination if they are in the same situation is just pure speculation. If they complain to the US like the Mexican government did toward China over the quarantine, I think a lot of people would find it unreasonable. So if you think Chinese people should not complain if they are the ones being quarantined, then by the same logic you are also implying the Mexicans should not be complain if they are being quarantined.

generalyuefei Author Profile Page:

To coolbliss,

remember the 1920 Anti-Chinese Acts:)

I thought US prepared Chinatowns for that sort of thing

adrienne_najjar Author Profile Page:

If we treated the Mexicans like the Chinese do, we'd all be a lot better off.

Citizenofthepost-Americanworld Author Profile Page:

sqrl wrote: "I find your constant cynical insinuation and overtones distasteful... They quarantined a bunch of Canadian Students.... "

Before this conversation gets out of hand everyone better check the facts and all the facts.

It's just been reported that 25 Canadian students were indeed on their way to China, eager to learn Mandarin, when they were quarantined for seven days upon their arrival at their destination, in Northeast China.

It was also reported, some time ago, that French citizens had been quarantined, together with many other people, in that hotel where the Mexican swine flu victim had stayed, in Hong Kong. One more French citizen was added to that lot, we were told, after the man had decided, possibly over the week-end, that he would drop by to visit some quarantined friend or acquaintance... at that hotel!... He was detained and quarantined as well...

Those safety measures apply to Chinese nationals as well, who will be repatriated on special Chinese flights from Mexico. They will not be authorized to land in Shanghai, as they had planned.

It would appear that this time around, China has decided: "better be safe than sorry". I would be the last to blame them.

coolbliss Author Profile Page:

This is a slippery slope. Imagine if a different, deadly flu virus started in China and made its way around the world. What if the US Center for Disease Control reported that a couple of Chinese nationals were found with this virus in the USA? What would happen if the US government decided to quarantine every single Chinese student, tourist and business person against their will for at least a week or more?

There would be a huge uproar in China. Allegations of racism and anti-Chinese political bias by the United States would dominate the air waves and Internet message boards. This would be the likely outcome.

generalyuefei Author Profile Page:

Maybe China should quarantine American too, They've got Mad Cow Disease:)

generalyuefei Author Profile Page:

Hey John,

We already have bird flu in Beijing, our capital already; and recently on our net, There is new flu spreading called 草泥马热, Grass Mud Horse Fever:)

Now you want us to obtain Swine flu? Do we have less pigs?

You crazy?

sqrl Author Profile Page:

>It makes you wonder: would China be meting out this type of treatment to people from developed countries?

They quarantined a bunch of Canadian Students.


I find your constant cynical insinuation and overtones distasteful.

luyi99 Author Profile Page:

Of course China did it wrong! In John Pomfret’s eyes, China has never done anything right.

Consider the population, China should take action to prevent the spreading in anyways that works.

thmak Author Profile Page:

Flu spread from person to person. More people close together will help to spread flu more faster and wider. Chinese has a larger and denser population. Therefore flu can spread faster and wider in China than any countries. China takes the correct steps to quickly isolated suspected flu carrier before the flu has the chance to spread out. This is human right.

leegan02 Author Profile Page:

China's actions are in step with WHO recommendations. Also, not only Mexicans, but tourists from several other countries as well as the Chinese staff have been quarantined in the HK hotel where one Mexican was diagnosed with the flu. Of course anyone who is quarantined will be upset with their situation and be sensitive to outside perceptions.

If the flu spreads in China, it will have a more devastating impact than if it spreads in more developed countries because China has high population density and a not-so-advanced social, educational, medical enviroment in comparison to other countries. Mexico government is just trying to create an issue to distract others from their country's predictament. They are fearful of others demonising their people and country because of the swine flu.

jay_casey Author Profile Page:

China is reacting with typical draconian measures - rounding up people based on passports instead of symptoms and banning pork from US and Mexico despite no evidence that flu can be transmitted via food. Then they send a bit of money to Mexico to help out but negate their gesture by discriminating against Mexican citizens. What a country!

arkon Author Profile Page:

There is no special discrimination against Mexico, since China is also banning pork products from Alberta, Canada as some pigs there also caught swine flu, er influenza H1N1.

joeshuren1 Author Profile Page:

During the SARS epidemic, in Canada and the US, Asians and especially Chinese restaurants and businesses were unfairly scapegoated, even those people who had not traveled to affected areas. We can expect to see similar unfair discrimination against Mexicans everywhere. But the Mexican and Chinese governments have shown that quarantine and social distancing when early enough and applied to the right people, does confine an epidemic, even though the cost is great and the benefit to others. China is sending a plane with millions of masks and thermographic cameras to Mexico, a gift. But China and Mexico need to remember that the way to pay for better public health everywhere is to raise the standard of living everywhere, and that requires global trade and efficient farming that limits risk of epidemics. While banning pork trade is not a good idea, regulating pig and poultry raising would be. All nations need to study lessons learned from implementation of plans against epidemics, and that includes laws and application of quarantine in a predictable way and not just general emergency powers with the goal of social harmony instead of scientifically containing epidemic disease.

Koiatia Author Profile Page:

http://www.SalviaSociety.org talks about how the swine flu can't be transmitted through processed plants. So at least the druggies don't have to worry about catching the swine flu when they are importing their stuff from Mexico.. haha

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