Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Black Bird
I'm still eating chicken, but might pass on the black swan if it spins my way these days on the oversized Lazy Susan that Chinese use for their communal banquets.
There has been mixed news and censored news regarding avian flu in China and in Shenzhen in particular lately.
The mixed news first: Hong Kong TV news outlets which enjoy greater freedom than their mainland counterparts, despite sudden, unexplained breaks in broadcasts that might embarass or contradict what is reported here, have reported that World Health Organization inspectors are being stonewalled in attempts to investigate new areas where bird flu has reportedly broken out.
I saw one WHO worker say as much - but in more diplomatic terms - and would have enjoyed hearing more except there was a "mysterious" break in his interview that was replaced with a static mainland graphic showing a snow covered field that read "Hard Cold" in English. When the HK feed resumed, it was for a weather report. Stormy weather was predicted. Indeed.
Meanwhile the Shenzhen Daily was trumpeting a statement on its front page today that a WHO director-general, who happens to be Chinese, believes that China will "be able to bring bird flu under control." Right. As soon as he can get those pesky, inquisitive underlings back to the office.
SZ Daily will also run a report tomorrow saying that an unspecified number of black swans recently died in a local safari park, but don't worry because "tests" reveal that they didn't have bird flu. What the story fails to mention is an interesting detail that our local "information bureau" strongly suggested that we omit. (Foreign barbarian coworker Jeff and I always appreciate these helpful editing suggestions.) It wasn't "one" swan that died as another paper reported. It was 51. Oh, and the safari park has been shut down. But that's another needless detail. But readers will be glad to know that safari park workers were given shots, even though the tests for bird flu were negative.
It's all under control. And control is what it's all about, doncha know?
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