Few could have anticipated the run of bad publicity, crises and scandals that China has weathered since about last winter or spring. First, pets in America became sick and many died. The illness was traced to Chinese-made pet food laced with a fertilizer component named melamine. Companies in China had illegally added melamine to wheat gluten and rice protein in a bid to meet the contractual demand for the amount of protein in the pet food products.
After that, the Food and Drug Administration in the United States began to take a harder look at a host of Chinese products imported into the U.S. The FDA ended up barring most seafood from China (where we in the U.S. get about 1/3 of our shrimp) because much of it contained drugs, bacteria or other suspicious or obviously harmful products.
Not only was imported seafood tainted, but the FDA began turning away tons of other food products – some of it contaminated, some filled with toxins and other products full of bacteria.
Products like toothpaste, chewing gum and even soy sauce were found to be made with toxic ingredients. Roughly 900,000 tubes of Chinese made toothpaste containing a poison used in some antifreeze products turned up in U.S. hospitals for the mentally ill, prisons, juvenile detention centers and even some hospitals serving the general population.
Then the Colgate-Palmolive Company announced that it had found counterfeit “Colgate” toothpaste containing the anti-freeze diethylene glycol, a syrupy poison.
Although tainted or poorly made and tested food from China was first noticed in the United States and other western nations, once China checked its own store shelves it found problems.
Inspectors in southwest China’s Guangxi region found excessive additives and preservatives in nearly 40 percent of 100 children’s snacks sampled during the second quarter of 2007, according to a report on China’s central government Web site.
The snacks — including soft drinks, candied fruits, gelatin desserts and some types of crackers — were taken from 70 supermarkets, department stores and wholesale markets in seven cities in the region, it said.
Only 35 percent of gelatin desserts sampled met food standards, the report said, while two types of candied fruit contained 63 times the permitted amount of artificial sweetener.
And if substandard children’s snacks weren’t bad enough, China and the U.S. FDA uncovered a huge racket in substandard medicines. One manufacturer of medicines was implicated in 11 deaths. Five manufactures lost the ability to continue in the business. And 128 drug makers lost their Chinese government Good Manufacturing Practice certificates, a symbol of favorable performance, the China Daily newspaper reported on its Web site.
We also saw, thanks to an aroused international media, child laborers illegally producing Beijing Olympics 2008 memorabilia. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse for China, a slavery scandal erupted. Slaves were found mining materials and making bricks inside China.
The United Nations condemned China for the worst pollution in the world. China also produces more greenhouse gases than any other nation by far.
Despite China’s long history for managing its media and controlling what the world learned about the People’s Republic, stories surfaced and were verified that showed an illegal trade in “harvested” human organs from inside China. Unscrupulous doctors and businessmen teamed up to create a thriving business in human organs. The problem was that the organs came from prisoners and the mentally ill, who had no say in the matter and died before they could become witnesses to this atrocity.
Add to this a long and unresolved dispute about the way China controls its currency and a thriving business inside China in counterfeit goods: everything from U.S. music and motion pictures to Rolex watches, books and, well, you name it.
China tried to market a new Chinese made automobile to the upscale European buyer but the vehicle disintegrated in a 40 MPH crash test. Now Europeans wouldn’t be, well, caught dead in the thing.
So from May until July 2007, despite the Chinese News Spin Machine going full tilt the bad news about China seemed to be spinning out of control.