Parrot fever hits Beijing!

STR/AFP/Getty Images It has been many years since rival kingdoms sent each other messages via homing pigeon, but the latest development in the killer-export dispute between the United States and China offers a new take on that old-fashioned method of communication. According to a Chinese government website, officials recently seized a shipment of 41 pigeons ...

600303_070727_pigeons_05.jpg
600303_070727_pigeons_05.jpg

STR/AFP/Getty Images

It has been many years since rival kingdoms sent each other messages via homing pigeon, but the latest development in the killer-export dispute between the United States and China offers a new take on that old-fashioned method of communication.

According to a Chinese government website, officials recently seized a shipment of 41 pigeons and executed every last one of them. The pigeons, which originated in the United States, were destined for use as both pets and gourmet food. Chinese inspectors, however, cited a litany of problems with the shipment, including an infestation of "parrot fever," a bird-disease that can cause mild symptoms in humans. So the birds were slaughtered and incinerated.

STR/AFP/Getty Images

It has been many years since rival kingdoms sent each other messages via homing pigeon, but the latest development in the killer-export dispute between the United States and China offers a new take on that old-fashioned method of communication.

According to a Chinese government website, officials recently seized a shipment of 41 pigeons and executed every last one of them. The pigeons, which originated in the United States, were destined for use as both pets and gourmet food. Chinese inspectors, however, cited a litany of problems with the shipment, including an infestation of “parrot fever,” a bird-disease that can cause mild symptoms in humans. So the birds were slaughtered and incinerated.

I have, in the past, defended the Chinese from allegations that they’re out to poison us; I still think Americans tend to overreact when it comes to China. On the flip side, this pigeon business is utter silliness. It’s clearly just tit-for-tat escalation of a dispute that need not cause any serious trouble. If China wants to keep an open, friendly market for their exports, they’re better off acknowledging problems and working to promote safety, rather than going on the offensive to find flaws with U.S. exports.

Plus, think of the innocent pigeons. 

Sam duPont is a Master's candidate at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School and focused his capstone research on transitional democracies and elections in fragile states.

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