China is proposing new legislation that would make it a crime to report information about riots, disasters or outbreaks of disease without government permission. The government has been notoriously and dangerously secretive about such things as SARS and Bird Flu outbreaks, and this new legislation appears aimed at preventing even the sketchy information that usually appears from leaving the country.

Clifford Coonan writes in the Independent that the government claims it merely wants to enforce accuracy in reporting, but it actually wants to “save face” with the rest of the world. However, this is a dangerous concept when it comes to things like pollution, global warming and disease, which have a direct effect on people in the rest of the world.

This kind of secrecy is the reason that SARS became an epidemic, and it will happen again if China continues with its policy of secrecy.

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