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One of the world's fastest-growing economies, China, has ambitious plans for hosting the Olympic Games in 2008 and could send a man to the moon. Yet the government says it cannot afford to make a big contribution to global efforts to monitor and control outbreaks of bird flu.

In part, this reluctance stems from the fact that China has already spent massively on culling poultry and other control measures. While admitting that the country's size and poorly linked central and local governments are problematic, this editorial in Nature says its current strategy is in dire need of an overhaul.

For years, China's approach has been to identify a problem and take measures to address it before reporting the situation to the international community. SARS served as a lesson, but one that apparently has not been well learnt: China's reporting of bird flu outbreaks remains slow and patchy.

The editorial concludes that China must do more to serve the interests of its people in the face of the threat from bird flu — and that as an emerging world power, it must collaborate more openly with the global community.

Link to full article in Nature