The perfidious China saga goes on and on. At least the Government is clamping down, albeit on what may be a bottomless pit of cynical corruption. The latest lethal scandal is of polluted drugs prescribed to children with leukemia. Injections of Chinese methotrexate have caused pain and difficulty in walking in young leukemia patients - as if they are not suffering enough already!
Meanwhile, there are more recalls of dangerous Chinese goods - jewellery which could cause lead poisoning, magnetic toys which are choking hazards...
The shock and resulting pressure emerging from the West would seem to have rattled Chinese authorities - so much so that they punished their bribe-taking food and drug safety chief by killing him.
Now the push is on to show the West that everything is just A-OK, fine and dandy for the Olympics. As AP's Audra Ang reports:
Confidence in the safety of Chinese exports has severely waned internationally, as the list of products found tainted with dangerous levels of toxins and chemicals grows longer by the day.
China has taken significant steps in recent days to clean up its dubious product safety record, including executing the former head of its drug regulation agency for taking bribes and banning the use of a chemical found in antifreeze in the production of toothpaste.
In a report aired Wednesday night, China Central Television showed how a bun maker in a district in Beijing used cardboard picked off the street as filling for his product.
The undercover investigation report showed how squares of cardboard were first soaked to a pulp in a plastic basin of caustic soda — a chemical base commonly used in manufacturing paper and soap — then chopped into tiny morsels with a cleaver. Fatty pork and powdered seasoning were stirred in and minutes later, steaming buns were shown on screen.
Yum. Won't the Olympic athletes love it.
Well, to its credit, the Chinese government has installed a panel to screen products and will ban offending manufacturers from production for three years. But is the problem already too big and out of control? This is more than a distinct possibility.