China As It Is

The fake new generation

Newcastle University in the UK has orderd fifty Chinese students to leave the university after their academic certificates, basing on which they were accepted to study in the university, were found to be fake. 

Forty nine of them are from mailand China, one from Taiwan. 

Everything can be fake in China, from CD, brand bags and clothes, to food, and certificates. The scandal underscores that the fake culture has permeated into the youth generation. How can they not, if they live in an environment that almost everything is, and can be, fake. 

Is this the price China has to pay for its economic growth and prosperity? Has the country leadership counted this price?

China As It Is

Hu Jia’s mother had this to say…

It is encouraging news that China’s jailed dissident Hu Jia won the EU top human rights award Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. When the world focused its attention on China’s engine of growth for the world economy, the award is a strong reminder that there are brave people on the mainland fighting for freedom of speech and human rights and who are jailed as a result of their belief and their pursuit.

China’s ambassador to EU, Song Zhen, wrote to the president of EU assembly, on the eve of the prize announcement, saying that “if the European Parliament should award this prize to Hu Jia, that would inevitably  hurt the Chinese people once again and bring serious damage to China-EU relations.” This is tantamount to a threat, which would have angered many people in Europe.

Will China one day learn to be a “civilized” country to match its rising economic power and aspriation to be a power on the world stage? I wonder.

Hu Jia, 35, a campaigner for civil rights, environmental protection and Aids advocacy, was sentenced to 3-1/2 years in jail on subversion charges in April after a one-day trial. 

His mother said after his son was taken away: “ I hope my son would be the last person in China who is jailed because of his speech.”

Hu Jia has a daughter who was merely a few months old  when he was put in jail.  She will turn one next month.

China As It Is

Even the No.1 diary brand is involved

Mengniu is the No.1 diary brand, and also one of the most prominent brands in China. The brand is as famous as Lenovo in the country. Its milk product is not only popular in Mainland China, but also in Hong Kong. Here in Hong Kong, my father drinks its yogurt drink; my company’s pantry has Mengniu’s milk; one of my colleagues just told me the milk in her home’s fridge is always Mengniu’s milk. “Because it tasted good,” she said.

The company’s President Niu Geng Sheng often toured the country and Hong Kong to speak about brand management. It publishes Corporate Social Responsibility report, and actively goes green – it has just built the world’s largest methane power plant using cow-dung (investment RMB 45M /US$5.7 M).

So when I learnt of the news this morning that not only its baby formula, but also its milk are found contaminated by the industrial chemical melamine, it is a real shock to me.

How could it be possible to trust a Chinese brand anymore, if even a brand like Mengniu cannot be trusted?

The investigation by the quality watchdog of China, the General Administration for Quality Supervision, just found that 11 out of 121 batches of milk from Mengniu contain melamine.

If you ever live in China, you would know that three diary brands dominate the market: Mengniu, Yili and Guangming. In the supermarkets in China, it is very likely they are the only diary brands you can find.

The saddening thing about China’s milk scandal is that all its major diary manufacturers – Mengniu, Yili and Guangming – are involved. Yili’s and Guangming’s milk are also found contaminated by China’s General Administration for Quality Supervision.

In Hong Kong, tests conducted by the Food Safety Centre have found Yili’s milk products contaminated and the authority has asked the distributor to recall all the company products. Milk products by other mainland companies are still in the testing process.

By the way, here in Hong Kong, I eat Yili’s ice stick. Thank God, only occasionally.

China As It Is

Culture and behavior are here to stay

The latest melamine-tainted baby formula scandal on the mainland highlights one thing – the culture and behavior of a country won’t change overnight. 

The scandal is reminiscent of how the authorities in China handled the SAR, a daunting public health challenge in 2003, when the officials initially tried to cover up the scale of the SAR break-out.

China’s Minister of Health Chan Zhu yesterday admitted that the “authorities” were aware of the problems with baby formula in mid-July, and several investigations had been carried out since to establish the cause, only to no avail. Why not, then, alerted the public about the problem which is so consequential when it was first discovered? Who are all these “authorities” aware of the problem?  The minister didn’t answer.

Minister Chan, after 3 deaths and more than 6000 children affected by the tainted formula, was still trying to offer excuse for the slow action – or the cover-up – of the “authorities”. His statements seemed to imply that “well, we didn’t hide the truth – we were  just investigating.”

On another front, the formula manufacturer concerned Sanlu received complaints as early as March this year, and later its tests confirmed contamination. The New Zealand owner of a 43% stake of Sanlu, Fonterra Co-operative Group, said it urged the company to recall the product as early as six weeks ago. After no action taken, it had to bypass the company and the local authorities to alert the Central government.

The company Sanlu and the authorities, local and central, all share one common skill -buck passing and fact hiding.

I am thinking about the glory and grandeur of the opening ceremony of Beijing Olympics just weeks away, with themes reflecting the traditional Chinese culture. What is really the Chinese culture NOW? Would people want to seriously think about it?

China As It Is

Story of Zhao C

I find this an interesting story. A university student in China, called Zhao C, just won a court case to have his unconventional Chinese name – with letter “C as the first name – used on his identity card. Previously, the police rejected his request for a new identity card, saying regulations do not allow names to contain letters of the roman alphabet.

Reportedly, Zhao C’s father gave him the name, who when interviewed, said that “C” symbolized his hope for his son. “C is the first letter of the English world ‘China’, and its pronunciation is the same as the word “west” in Chinese. I hope my son will go to study in the West while not forgetting his Chinese root,” he said.

The hope represented by “C” is also the hope of a majority of youngsters in China: go overseas to study and yet very proud to be a Chinese.