Given its experience with SARS, China was understandably anxious about swine flu.
Cue the men in biohazard suits checking for temperatures on inbound flights and urban infectious disease control centres making twice-daily phone calls to check the temperature of people arriving from risky parts of the world, such as the UK.
Several companies (including one major foreign car company) went one step further by banning their China-based employees from even visiting the UK.
Now however, a Chinese company has come up with the first proven vaccine for swine flu.
Sinovac, which is also known as Beijing Kexing Bioproducts, a NASDAQ-listed company with close ties to the Ministry of Health and Peking University, has beaten Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline in the race to develop a swine flu drug.
A single-centre, randomised double-blind clinical trial involving 1,614 volunteers was carried out in July and demonstrated the positive efficacy and safety of the vaccine.
It is yet to win regulatory approval, but it is likely that the Chinese government will fast-track the process, given that Sinovac is a major supplier and that the Food and Drug Authority have been monitoring the progress of the drug on-site.
The company has also developed a bird flu vaccine and is the first company to have completed trials on a SARS vaccine.
Sinovac’s success is just part of a wider theme in the pharmaceutical industry, with innovation moving eastwards to India and China. In 2006, 8.4pc of all pharma patent applications named a Chinese inventor.
Here then, at last, is a Chinese company, and industry, that is moving rapidly up the value chain and achieving world-class results.