Front Page of the Day
Posted by Eric Mu on Monday, April 28, 2008 at 11:15 PM
Fuyang's back in the news again, less than one week after the "White House" scandal (see Danwei's report). Today's Liaoshen Daily reprinted a Xinhua report on an intestinal virus outbreak in Fuyang.
The big photo shows a health inspection van parked outside of a kindergarten. To the right of the image, a headline reads "DEATH" (死亡) in large, bold type.
Rumors about an epidemic in Fuyang started in early March.
Some people thought it might be bird flu, which hit the city in 2007 and infected one person. Some called it "Children's SARS" because the victims were young children. Other people believed it was foot-and-mouth disease, because the infected had rashes on hands and feet.
Some parents sent their young children out of the city. People rushed to drug stores for chemical sterilizers. A kindergarten which enrolled 40 students had only 10 showing up.
In response to the rumors, a local TV station broadcast two press conferences on April 15, in which government officials admitted that there were "several deaths due to respiratory infection," but denied that it was an epidemic. They said the deaths were independent (insinuating the disease was not contagious) and there was no increase in number compared with previous years.
However, the government's soothing words flew in the face of the fact that information on how to prevent hand, foot and mouth disease (caused by the EV71 virus) was being posted on the walls of the state-run kindergartens. In addition, body temperatures were checked and the parents of kids whose symptoms fit the profile were asked to remove their children. In one kindergarten, after a child died, a meeting was held and the staff were warned that whoever leaked the news would be fired.
On April 27, Xinhua finally confirmed the outbreak of EV71. By then, 19 children had died from the outbreak and 204 remained in hospital, including four in critical condition. In total, 789 were struck by the virus, most of them younger than two years old.
With SARS still in the back of people's mind, the whole thing may sound familiar. In 2003, when China was criticized for being secretive and withholding information, the government pledged to construct an "open and transparent" epidemic reporting system. Five years from then, how far has that system come? Based on the Fuyang incident, one has to wonder.
Links and Sources
Jobs in China
Henry on The Eurasian Face
Caroline W on Big in China
Michael on Julia Lovell on translating Lu Xun's complete fiction: "His is an angry, searing vision of China"
Brandon K. on Clueless academic takes on popular fantasy novels
China Media Timeline
Major media events over the last three decades
Danwei Model Workers
The latest recommended blogs and new media
Books on China
The Eurasian Face : Blacksmith Books, a publishing house in Hong Kong, is behind The Eurasian Face, a collection of photographs by Kirsteen Zimmern. Below is an excerpt from the series:
Big in China: An adapted excerpt from Big In China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising A Family, Playing The Blues and Becoming A Star in China, just published this month. Author Alan Paul tells the story of arriving in Beijing as a trailing spouse, starting a blues band, raising kids and trying to make sense of China.
Pallavi Aiyar's Chinese Whiskers: Pallavi Aiyar's first novel, Chinese Whiskers, a modern fable set in contemporary Beijing, will be published in January 2011. Aiyar currently lives in Brussels where she writes about Europe for the Business Standard. Below she gives permissions for an excerpt.
Front Page of the Day
A different newspaper every weekday
From the Vault
Classic Danwei posts
+ Korean history doesn't fly on Chinese TV screens (2007.09): SARFT puts the kibbosh on Korean historical dramas.
+ Religion and government in an uneasy mix (2008.03): Phoenix Weekly (凤凰周刊) article from October, 2007, on government influence on religious practice in Tibet.
+ David Moser on Mao impersonators (2004.10): I first became aware of this phenomenon in 1992 when I turned on a Beijing TV variety show and was jolted by the sight of "Mao Zedong" and "Zhou Enlai" playing a game of ping pong. They both gave short, rousing speeches, and then were reverently interviewed by the emcee, who thanked them profusely for taking time off from their governmental duties to appear on the show.