Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Food & Drug safety chief sentenced to death in China
The unusually harsh sentence ... comes at a time of heightened concerns about the quality and safety of China’s food and drug system after a series of scandals involving tainted food and phony drugs.read the rest in the New York Times
The sentence is not that "unusually harsh," as noted in a previous post here. While I was in China I read, in English language Chinese newspapers, of a number of death sentences for corruption involving great financial loss or damage to China's image. One, when I first arrived, involved smuggling, others were for graft and embezzlement. In China a crime against capital is a capital crime. The post linked to above was in 2003, about how China had redoubled its efforts to crack corruption. It seems they haven't made enough progress since then, even though you read reports regularly, in state controlled media, of corruption arrests and convictions. This one is, excuse the pun, pretty high up on the food chain.
I understand Vice Premier Wu Yi promised better controls on exported food and components at the trade talks last week, but anyone who's spent any length of time in China knows that this will be a long time coming, if at all. I'm utterly certain the intention of the government is to assure that all exported and domestically consumed food and food components are clean and safe, but this is next to impossible for them. They've grown too fast to keep up. The administrative infrastructure is not in place, violations occur in countless hard-to-administrate locations, regulations are at the behest of officials who take bribes and producers who are cavalier about regulations and quick to shrug them off if caught.
I know protectionism is a dirty word, but protection shouldn't be, where health and safety are concerned. Since for the present the onus is on this country to assure the safety of consumable imports, I don't see any problem in having China pay for some of it. This is one case, I sincerely believe, where tariffs and sanctions are called for, and quickly, before any more damage is done.
Mainer, New Yawka, Beijinger, Californian, points between. News, views and ballyhoos that piqued my interest and caused me to sigh, cry, chuckle, groan or throw something.
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