The head of China’s largest dairy firm, Sanlu Group, has argued that the country’s lack of regulations regarding a toxic chemical contributed to a tainted milk scandal that sickened nearly 300,000 infants, and killed at least six, state-run media reported.
She is exactly correct.
She is expected to be sentenced to life imprisonment although a verdict may not be reached for several weeks, the official Xinhua News said.
Earlier reports indicated that the 66-year-old executive could face the death penalty.
Her crime is that her business added melamine to milk: a practice common in China for decades.
This is a show trial conducted before state media by a communist government.
Sanlu put melamine into milk. Case closed.
Except in China, workers put melamine into all kinds of food products for years.
Melamine, which is poisonous to humans in great enough concentrations, had been routinely mixed into food products in China for years — and other similar tainted substances for decades. The reason this issue exploded on to the international scene was the deaths of children — not the communist government’s honesty and righteousness….
A Chinese nurse attends to a baby who became ill after drinking contaminated milk powder in September 2008. At least six infants died. The former head of the Chinese firm at the centre of the tainted milk scandal could face the death penalty if convicted. Tian Wenhua is standing trial. But China’s government is the real guilty party….(AFP/File/Str)
I pesonally saw improper use of chemicals like animal feed, melamine and fertilizer added to food products in China starting in the 1970s — so this issue is not new. The New York Times investigated this issue in 2007 and found the use of melamine “an open secret” amoung tens of thousands of farmers and vendors.
It is good the world community is now aware of this practice and that China is taking action….But executions of those found guilty now, or even prison, is just wrong, a violation of the most basic human rights, and only used to show action on the part of the Chinese government following tragic infant deaths.
The government itself will never admit guilt because they then would be open to tens of thousands of lawsuits.
“There is no transparency in the process. They are behaving like there is something to hide,” said Teng Biao, a Beijing lawyer who has been trying to bring a lawsuit on behalf of 111 parents. “They are completely excluding the victims.”
That is because China’s government does have much to hide. This is a kangaroo court.
“Many companies buy melamine scrap to make animal feed, such as fish feed,” said Ji Denghui, general manager of the Fujian Sanming Dinghui Chemical Company, which sells melamine. “I don’t know if there’s a regulation on it. Probably not. No law or regulation says ‘don’t do it,’ so everyone’s doing it. The laws in China are like that, aren’t they? If there’s no accident, there won’t be any regulation.”
Ji Denghui made that statement in 2007 to New York Times reporters David Barboza and Alexei Barrionuevo.
Above: Victims’ relatives outside a court hold banners that read “cannot deprive the victims’ rights.”
Beijing’s government has little or no control over the millions of small manufacturers and farmers in the vast countryside of this rural nation of 1.3 billion people. Until this last summer’s Olympics, Beijing had never even had food sanitation and safety standards written much less enforced for restaurants — a very basic of health safety systems taken for granted in the West.
By John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia
China: Another New Melamine Scandal; Poisoned Food Products
From The New York Times:
China: Redefining “Superpower” to Mean Economic and Military Strength Without Human Rights
Above: Tian Wenhua, chairwoman of the now-bankrupt Sanlu Group, enters a courthouse in China. Photo: Ding Lixin / Associated Press
Tian Wenhua, former board chairwoman and general manager of Sanlu, pleaded guilty Wednesday to her role in the scandal. She and three other executives are on trial for producing and selling fake or substandard products, according to Xinhua news agency.
In a statement distributed by her attorney on Thursday, Tian said China should consider the standards of the European Union regarding the chemical melamine. She also said other independent companies under the Sanlu umbrella produced some of the “tainted milk powder” and their leaders should also shoulder some responsibility.
Tian said she did not intentionally sell tainted product and had taken several steps aimed at making up for the harm caused, Xinhua reported.
In her closing statement, Tian tearfully apologized.
“If it meant that I could get back the health of all the sick children, I would be willing to accept any legal punishment,” she said.
The three other executives on trial are former deputy general managers Wang Yuliang and Hang Zhiqi, and Wu Jusheng, a former executive heading Sanlu’s milk division.
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