Sunday, October 25, 2020

What the longest spoon is for

Aug 21. 2018
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A recent article in The Nation informed us that deaths from rabies in Thailand are already more than 50 per cent up from last year.

This is extremely disturbing, and although the shortage of vaccine has now apparently been resolved, I just hope the vaccines were not imported from China. 

Changsheng Biotech was convicted some years ago of supplying ineffective vaccines against childhood illnesses, but the conviction was not made public, so parents did not know their children had not actually been immunised. Only now, after the company is accused of supplying ineffective rabies vaccines, have details of its previous transgressions emerged. 

Yet the authorities still engaged in a cover-up operation. In the days following the first reports of this scandal, the most censored word on Chinese social media was “vaccine”. This lays bare the moral bankruptcy at the heart of the Chinese government, and its total disregard for the health and wellbeing of its citizens, in order to protect the reputation of a well-connected organisation.

If this is how the Chinese government treats its own people, then altruism is hardly going to be the driving force in its policy of expanding China’s influence over neighbouring countries. Thailand is building closer links with China in areas such as defence and infrastructure, and supermarket shelves are full of Chinese fresh produce. In principle, there is nothing wrong with that, but the authorities here would do well to remember the old adage “Caveat emptor”. Or, to put it more bluntly, “If you sup with the Devil, use a long spoon.”

Robin Grant

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