WSJ on detention of Mexicans in Beijing

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Andrew Browne, the WSJ's Beijing bureau chief, has a powerful story just now with names and details of Mexicans being detained and quarantined in China because they are Mexican, not because they've necessarily been in Mexico recently or exposed to flu patients. He has names, details, and quotes about cases like those I mentioned on Saturday:

Gustavo Carrillo, a 36-year-old manager of a Mexican technology company in China who lives in Beijing, was taken off his Continental Airlines plane Saturday and rushed into quarantine at a Beijing hotel. He had traveled to the U.S. from China on a business trip and hadn't visited Mexico.

Mr. Carrillo said health officials took the temperatures of other passengers after the plane landed, but didn't check his after they saw his Mexican passport. Instead, they led him down the aisle past gawking passengers. "It was embarrassing and humiliating," he said.

And:

According to accounts from Mexicans in the hotel, Mexican travelers arriving on various flights from Mexico and the U.S. were singled out by health officials who boarded the aircraft wearing white protective suits, masks and rubber gloves. They led away Mexican passport holders. Several travelers said Chinese television camera crews surprised them at the doors of their aircraft as they emerged. They said the filming continued through the windows of an isolation ward at the Beijing Ditan infectious diseases hospital.

"We felt like we were in a zoo," said Angel Yamil Silum, a 27-year-old business student, who arrived in Beijing with his girlfriend Saturday en route to Bangkok for a holiday, and ended up at Ditan and then the Guo Men Hotel.

Again, China has every reason to be careful about this disease, given the memory of SARS. I've assumed this was a panicky overreaction by local officials, which would be corrected once calmer heads prevailed. The calmer-heads stage does not seem to have started yet.

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
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