Health officials in Beijing say China will shut its borders if there is a single case of human-to-human transmission of bird flu in the country.
Official state media report that Beijing's main priority would be saving lives and preventing the spread of bird flu, despite the economic consequences that any border closing would trigger.
The Asian Development Bank has estimated that even a mild human outbreak of avian influenza would cost up to $100 billion in lost revenue.
Authorities in Hong Kong said last week they also would close border crossings with the mainland if any human-to-human transmission of the disease occurs in China.
But a published report in Britain Sunday in The Observer newspaper says such actions would only delay the spread of a dangerous virus by a matter of days or weeks.