Sunday, December 11, 2005

Trusting China on bird flu

China is miffed no one trusts her word that bird flu isn't rampant in the country. Thi post isn't about whether it is or isn't. It's about why no one trusts Chinese authorities. Because they do things like this:
The man who alerted China's Ministry of Agriculture to a bird flu outbreak in Tianchang City, Anhui Province in October, was recently arrested in China. The Chongqing Morning News reported that the whistle blower, Qiao Songju from Gaoyou City, Jiangsu Province, was taken to the police station on the night of November 24 for questioning on alleged corruption charges. According to his wife, Wang Xiulan, he has not returned since.

On November 25, Gaoyou City Police Station issued an arrest warrant for Qiao for alleged corruption, a charge that Qiao denied. The arrest of this whistle-blower at a time when bird flu is quickly spreading has caused anxiety among many Chinese.

Qiao alerted officials to a bird flu outbreak in October this year. Several media reported that Qiao's father had received a phone call in mid-October from his friend Ma Zhengzhao, another goose farmer in Anhui, who said that his geese were infected with bird flu and he was trying to sell the sick birds to Jiangsu Province. When Qiao heard the news, he stopped the transaction and immediately reported the case to the Ministry of Agriculture. (AFP via Epoch Times)
As a result the Ministry of Agriculture ordered over 120,000 poultry destroyed in Anhui Province and offered Qiao a cash reward, which he refused:
"If the government could compensate the poultry farmers for their loss and protect their interests, I would not need to be the whistleblower here."

Qiao said that many farmers are reluctant to report the disease because the compensation from the Ministry is so low.
There was considerable local anger against Qiao because of the huge, poorly compensated losses and he was taken to the local police station two days after the order and questioned about how much he was paid for informing the Ministry. He was released when he said he was paid nothing, but arrested a month later (end of November) on a "corruption" charge stemming from a two year old dispute relating to bird immunization shots.

So no one trusts you. Poor China.