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China Apologizes

Just as I was about to post a truly scathing entry on China's response to SARS, word comes that they are apologizing for their conduct to date:

China apologized Friday for not doing a better job of informing people about severe acute respiratory syndrome as an international medical team went to the city where it believed the mystery illness may have first broken out.

The admission, extraordinary for a government that rarely acknowledges fault, came after escalating criticism abroad -- and one day after the health minister explicitly said China had followed its own rules in dealing with the problem.

"Today, we apologize to everyone," said Li Liming, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control.

"Our medical departments and our mass media suffered poor coordination. We weren't able to muster our forces in helping to provide everyone with scientific publicity and allowing the masses to get hold of this sort of knowledge."

Will the highest levels of the Chinese government stand behind this apology, or will China revert to form and disavow any culpability in the matter? The next few days will tell.

I'll hold my more direct attack until we have a clear idea of what China's official stance will be.


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I can't find it right now but a previous article (I suspect either it was Guardian or BBC Online article) I had seen on Li Liming's comments had observed that it was unreported in the mainland chinese new media and not covered by Xinhua.

I don't think all that much has really changed.

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