Friday, November 18, 2005

Chinese transparency compromised?

At the same time China is being praised for its vigorous moves against bird flu, it has taken steps that compromise the appearance of transparency and oppenness. Yesterday the English language version of The People's Daily Online reported all Chinese scientists are now required to get authorization to conduct research on bird flu:
All institutions are, if unauthorized, forbidden to conduct scientific research on bird flu, according to a notice issued by the the Ministry of Science and Technology.

According to the notice, all unauthorized institutions are not allowed to carry out scientific study on the highly pathogenic virus or collect, transport and harbor virus strains.

Institutions and individuals are also banned from introducing foreign virus strains to China or transporting Chinese samples abroad. International cooperation requires government approval.
Whatever the motives, here, the appearance is one of tight government control over information generation and information sharing, reminiscent of an earlier edict that threatened to shut down one of the leading flu research laboratories in China because it produced information deemed inconvenient by the government.

As we said then, How stupid can you get?