China last week mounted a surprisingly aggressive mobilization in hopes of averting an avian flu pandemic that has the potential to hobble Asia’s economy and slam global growth. This is a far cry from Beijing’s response to the 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Then, China restricted press coverage as it initially covered up a health crisis that left hundreds dead. Moreover, it caused many at home and abroad to question whether the Communist government’s civil leadership would ever equal its economic prowess.
But today there are encouraging signs that China is maturing in how it views its responsibilities as a global leader.