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Chinese again victimized by poisoned products

Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on September 17, 2008

The scandal surrounding China’s tainted milk once again is calling attention to the shoddy state of consumer protection in China. During the big Made-in-China scares last year surrounding tainted Chinese-made toys, foods, and drugs, when a week didn’t go by without another scary story about poisoned goods showing up on U.S. store shelves, it was easy for lots of people to lose track of the biggest victims of shoddy Chinese production and lax Chinese regulation: Ordinary Chinese people. I certainly don’t mean to minimize the tragedies that took place when people in other countries fell ill or died from dangerous Chinese-made products, but it’s worth remembering that probably far more people in China have died from poisonous Chinese products than anywhere else.

Yes, multinationals from the U.S. and other countries have problems enforcing standards on their suppliers in China, and the scandals last year have forced the foreigners to pay more attention to safety and health standards at their Chinese factories. The milk scandal has come to light thanks in part to the efforts of the New Zealand company that is a shareholder in the Chinese company alleged to have produced the tainted milk. But what of all the Chinese factories that don’t have foreign investors, that don’t have a big Western toymaker or food producer knocking on the door? That’s where the government is supposed to step in. After the drug scandals last year, the head of China’s FDA lost his job and was executed, leading many people to believe Beijing was determined to regulate industry properly. Clearly there’s still a lot of work to do.

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Reader Comments


September 17, 2008 10:01 PM

It is not just China that is going through problems like this. I live in Japan and there is almost everyday scandals concerning food are occurring. The most recent one is the Mikasa food scandal where they knowingly used tainted rice with melanine. Of course it was imported from China, but it was specifically labeled not for human use. What is happening is that the respective agencies are becoming laxed, receiving bribe, or they are taking up typed documents certifying food while not testing. It has gone to the point where I do not trust food whether it comes from.


September 17, 2008 10:24 PM

What is most appalling is that this happened inspite of New Zealand Government forewarning China? Yet China chose not to act in a timely manner...


September 18, 2008 02:04 AM

China has progressed and improved compare to even 10 years ago. The news will even improve Chinese products more in the future. Overall it is a good things.


September 18, 2008 02:25 AM

once again, the great white men (kiwis) coming to save the colored folks. haven't we heard this many times before. why don't you talk about the drugs in the water supplies in the u.s.?

move along, it's another yellow peril story and the great white savior


September 18, 2008 04:39 AM

transparency is improving makes us including foreigners know the problems happened in CHINA.


September 18, 2008 10:42 AM

The hype created for Chinese consumer products, food is still on, which is courtesy WTO trade liberalisation. This pinches to the established developed markets being scared of the strength/capability of China. Look at the size of China, consumers, production of milk, and the complaint against Chinese infant milk. Catered to the world visitors of Olympics at Beijing recently safe, sound, and happy. I'm sure this will never have a re-occurance, and mistake regretable, and taken cognizance. The developing markets children today, yesterday are enjoying, playing Chinese toys. Neighbours, regional partners are yet happy, proud of China, and will continue with them.


September 18, 2008 11:14 AM

The most interesting part of the story is that the contamination was detected on Aug 2 (before the Olympics). And as expected the authorities tried to push it under the rug.....may be the Olympics were more important than a few thousand children falling ill!!


September 18, 2008 08:36 PM

The problem with china is that it is not a legally based society. It is also a dictatorship where there is no independent and powerful media that could expose all problems in the country. Until china becomes a country based upon rule of law, independent media and judicial system, we will continue to see scandals like that. As chinese say: there is an opportunity in every crisis. Hopefully the scandal can expose the deep-rooted corruption and bring china one step closer to rule of law


September 19, 2008 11:11 AM

With wealth comes greed. There is money to be made in China at the expense of the poor and ignorant. China will have to work harder if her products want acceptance.This is not the first case.

katie hanson

September 22, 2008 11:24 PM

This is an ongoing plot by Communist China to poison the entire world and have total world dominance. I have friends there who know this to be true. It is a government plot to build the China Empire around the globe.

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BusinessWeek’s team of Asia reporters brings you the latest insights on business, politics, technology and culture from some of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economies. Eye on Asia’s bloggers include Asia regional editor Bruce Einhorn, Tokyo reporter Ian Rowley, Korea bureau chief Moon Ihlwan, Asia News Editor and China Bureau Chief. Dexter Roberts, and Hong Kong-based Asia correspondent Frederik Balfour.

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