Posted by Joel Martinsen on Saturday, September 20, 2008 at 7:08 PM
Life Times (生命时报) is a weekly newspaper on health, medicine, and wellness that grew out of the Global Times weekly supplement "Life Week."
Its most recent issue features a cover story on the most pressing health issue of the day: the safety of powdered milk. The large headline reads "Milk powder businesses must have a conscience."
The subhead reads "Foreign brands have had crises, too; their management system has much to teach."
Zhai Hua, a blogger who covers cross-cultural issues, took issue with the way the cover feature referenced international milk powder scandals:
Life Times: "Our milk has problems, but your foreign milk isn't clean either"by Zhai Hua
Whenever there's a scandal, the habitual response of certain people is to cover it up, and to minimize major problems that can't be covered up. If it can't be minimized, then there's another technique: prove that it exists in foreign countries, too. This time is no exception. Sanlu's milk powder has become kidney stone powder, and other famous national brands have been laid low as well. Life Times, a domestic paper attached to a major newspaper, has taken advantage of its position to report what its journalists, stationed all over the world, were able to find: "The safety of milk powder is actually a global problem. It's not unique to China; across the whole world, there have been milk powder safety incidents involving more than a few famous and well-regarded businesses in major infant formula producing nations like the United States and Germany." The following are five recent crises involving foreign milk that Life Times reporters found:
Looking over these five cases, it appears that their effect was limited in scope, and from the reporters' descriptions, it seems reasonably certain that these were unexpected contaminations, utterly dissimilar in both quantity and quality to the profit-seeking, large-scale intentional counterfeiting and complete disregard for the health of consumers that is found in the present domestic incident. Taking a step back, even if foreigners are black-hearted enough to lie and commit fraud, once we've proven that they're all a bunch of bums, does that mean that our own actions deserve understanding?
To be fair, the feature does include an article that reports on strict inspection standards found in major milk-producing countries, suggesting that China could apply them to its own industry.
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Big in China: An adapted excerpt from Big In China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising A Family, Playing The Blues and Becoming A Star in China, just published this month. Author Alan Paul tells the story of arriving in Beijing as a trailing spouse, starting a blues band, raising kids and trying to make sense of China.
Pallavi Aiyar's Chinese Whiskers: Pallavi Aiyar's first novel, Chinese Whiskers, a modern fable set in contemporary Beijing, will be published in January 2011. Aiyar currently lives in Brussels where she writes about Europe for the Business Standard. Below she gives permissions for an excerpt.
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+ David Moser on Mao impersonators (2004.10): I first became aware of this phenomenon in 1992 when I turned on a Beijing TV variety show and was jolted by the sight of "Mao Zedong" and "Zhou Enlai" playing a game of ping pong. They both gave short, rousing speeches, and then were reverently interviewed by the emcee, who thanked them profusely for taking time off from their governmental duties to appear on the show.