Shanghai to Mexican passport holders: tortillas are for losers.

[UPDATE: Jim Fallows on PR, nationalism and public health. Highly recommended. By the Fallows analysis, a better title for this post would be “Shanghai to Shanghainese: tortillas are for losers.” A point for which I think there would be widespread agreement. I stand corrected.]

In my travels, I’ve learned that nothing stokes the patriotic vanities of Chinese government officials quite so effectively as praising the superiority of the local cuisine as compared to, say, anything to be found in France. Doors and lips open, friendships become permanent. And so it comes as no surprise to learn that the same Shanghai government officials who spent their weekends bullying Mexcian passport holders into quarantine would pause and, for good measure, assert the superiority of the local flavors:

Xu Jianguang, director of Shanghai Health Bureau, said local authorities would ensure the people under quarantine in the city were looked after. Internet access would be provided in their rooms and they could choose their own food.

“When first moved to the hotels, some Mexican people said they preferred delicious Chinese food and now they say they miss Western food. We will meet all such dining requests raised by the quarantined people,” Xu told a press conference.


Me, I’m under a deadline-inspired quarantine, and so even though I won’t be blogging for the next 48 hours, I plan to find the time to go out for some delicious Mexican food in solidarity with the detained Mexican passport holders.

[A good WSJ piece on the unacceptable conditions imposed upon quarantined Mexican nationals in Beijing.]


  1. Sad thing is they wouldn’t dare pull this kind of BS with US citizens (even if chinese food is better than hamburgers). Bullying is exactly the right term. China at its worst.

  2. By the Fallow interpretation the delicious food comment is supposed to mean that some Mexicans were overjoyed to have something decent to eat? Sounds like white man’s burden comes to China.

  3. A friend is actually in quarantine in Beijing. We’ve been able to communicate with him and provide a laptop, mobile phone, etc. He tells us the conditions in the hotel definitely aren’t Shangri-la standard, but they also don’t match the WSJ article and are “not too bad”. He says the biggest problem is boredom.

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