26 January 2004

Domino Effect

An artifact of 1960s anti-communist hysteria, Amercian neoconservatives devise the theory that should any single country in Asia fall to communism, all countries in the continent will subsequently fall as well, like a stack of dominoes... hence, justifying their interventions in Indonesia (supporting 'regime change' and replacing Sukarno) as well as the Vietnam War (assasinating the democratically-elected South Vietnam president, replacing him with a series of authoritarian, war-happy generals, and going to war with North Vietnam).

Let me invent the New Domino Effect theory for my readers:

Should any single country in Asia fall sick from flu, all countries in the continent will subsequently fall as well, like a stack of dominoes...

Like last year's SARS, this year's H5N1 avian flu proves to be an epidemic fit for the globalised economy. And like last year, several governments have been caught with their pants down this year. Cases in point: Thailand and Indonesia, which have had cases of avian flu for the past few months and covered it up until very recently.

Now, here's a map of Asia for us to consider. Let's take a look at the 7 countries that have bird flu, in order of declaration: South Korea (7 Nov), Vietnam (9 Nov. First human deaths on 11 Nov), Japan (13 Jan), Laos (21 Jan), Thailand (23 Jan. First human death, 26 Jan), Cambodia (23 Jan), Indonesia (25 Jan).

Notice anything weird? Big gaping hole in the almost contiguous land-area: China. Are we to believe that the Middle Kingdom is safe from the current outbreak, when it is conspicuously surrounded by 2 countries to the East, and 5 more to the South with the flu?

The scientific facts of the case are stacked against China's denial - H5N1 is known to be spread across borders by migratory birds, whose droppings fortuitously land near chicken farms and hence infect the livestock. Well, not that much of a long shot as it sounds, since it's apparently happened 7 times already. Can we believe that migratory birds don't shit when they fly over China from Japan to Indonesia?

Of course, China will be given a chance to come clean next week in the emergency bird flu conference in Thailand. It had better.

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