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Melamine found in 12% of milk powder: Beijing

Thursday, Oct 02, 2008, Page 1

Supporters of the Taiwan Republic Campaign perform a skit yesterday on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office to protest against the contaminated Chinese milk powder scandal and call for Chen Yunlin, chairman of China¡¦s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, and pandas donated by Beijing to be ¡§deported¡¨ if their planned arrival harms national sovereignty.


Chinese authorities said yesterday that tests had found traces in nearly 12 percent of milk powder products of an industrial chemical that has so far sickened 53,000 children, killing four.

As China marked its national day, Chinese President Hu Jintao (­JÀAÀÜ) said lessons must be learned from the scandal over tainted milk that has soiled China¡¦s reputation and led to a series of bans or curbs on its dairy exports worldwide.

The Anglo-Dutch company Unilever became the latest big-name brand to recall some Chinese products, taking Lipton milk tea powder off shelves in Hong Kong and Macau after tests showed they contained traces of melamine.

¡§Food safety is directly linked to the well-being of the broad masses and the competence of a company,¡¨ Hu said during a tour on Tuesday of dairy companies in Anhui Province, Xinhua news agency reported.

¡§Chinese companies should learn from the lessons of the Sanlu tainted milk powder incident,¡¨ he said, referring to Sanlu Group whose toxic baby formula was at the origin of the crisis.

A sweeping nationwide check has found melamine in 31 milk powder products, representing 11.7 percent of a total of 265 products put to the test, said the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine. They came from 20 different companies, including Sanlu Group and several of its partner enterprises.

All had been produced before Sept. 14, it said, insisting products made after that date were safe.

The agency said it had checked 154 companies altogether, representing more than 70 percent of the entire market for milk powder.

In Shijiazhuang, where Sanlu is headquartered, authorities issued an unusual apology for their tardy response to the scandal, the China Daily reported.

Wang Jianguo, a spokesman for the Shijiazhuang leadership, said the city felt ¡§a deep sense of guilt and regret¡¨ over the sick children.

He said the government received reports from Sanlu Group on Aug. 2 that some milk powder caused kidney stones, but waited until Sept. 9 to pass on the report to the Hebei provincial government.

Instead of alerting their superiors, Shijiazhuang officials offered medical treatment to patients, urged Sanlu to import inspection machines and recalled the company¡¦s milk powder, the paper said.

Sanlu also asked for government help in ¡§managing¡¨ the media response to the scandal, the People¡¦s Daily reported, citing Wang.

He said Sanlu asked the local government to monitor milk quality and take legal action against people adding melamine.

It also asked the government ¡§to strengthen management, control and coordination of the media ... to create a favorable environment for the company¡¦s recall of problem products and prevent a negative impact on society by stirring up the issue,¡¨ the newspaper said.

Wang said officials had not considered the consequences of their actions.

¡§We mistakenly thought that taking necessary measures and raising product quality could mitigate the effect and reduce losses,¡¨ he said.

¡§The bungling of the best opportunity to report up the handling of the issue caused much harm to people¡¦s safety, and seriously affected the image of the party and the government,¡¨ Wang said.

Meanwhile, the parents of an infant thought sickened by the tainted baby formula have launched what could be the first lawsuit of the scandal against Sanlu, said Ji Cheng, an attorney in Beijing.




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China¡¦s pride will be US¡¦ challenge

By Sushil Seth
Thursday, Oct 02, 2008, Page 8

In the years to come, the greatest challenge facing the US will be how best to engage with China as it bursts with national pride and is keen to wash off ¡§a century of humiliation¡¨ under Western and Japanese domination and occupation.

The US policy and opinion-makers are aware of this challenge, but their preoccupation with the Middle East is hindering any coherent debate on the important issue of China¡¦s rise.

At the official level, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said that China¡¦s rising influence is not something to fear ¡§if that power is used responsibly¡¨ ¡X an important qualification.

She also voiced concern regarding China¡¦s ¡§rapid development of high-tech weapons systems.¡¨

China¡¦s ¡§lack of transparency about its military spending and doctrine and its strategic goals increases mistrust and suspicion,¡¨ Rice wrote in a recent article in the journal Foreign Affairs.

But, despite some serious concerns regarding China on a host of issues, it is ¡§incumbent on the United States to find areas of cooperation and strategic agreement¡¨ to deal with many international problems.

Rice¡¦s formulations on China in Foreign Affairs are essentially a mild response to the very serious question of China¡¦s rise and the challenge it poses for US power.

It doesn¡¦t suggest any medium or long term blueprint to deal with a new and hyperactive power energized by a sense of overcoming, if not avenging, its national humiliation in the past.

A comparison with India in this respect is instructive.

In some ways, India suffered more under colonial occupation that lasted two centuries, and its historical narrative is quite blunt about it, but there is no comparable national hysteria to capitalize on it politically.

In China¡¦s case, its carefully controlled jingoism takes on ¡X at times ¡X the appearance of Nazi rallies, so much a feature of Hitler¡¦s Germany.

Adolf Hitler mobilized Germany to avenge its humiliation during World War I. The result was the outbreak of World War II, with disastrous results all around.

The periodic explosion of national anger in China, directed against the West and Japan, can create its own momentum, with the potential to plunge the world into catastrophe.

But John Ikenberry argues in Foreign Affairs: ¡§Technology and the global economic revolution have created a logic of economic relations that is different from the past ¡X making the political and institutional logic of the current order all the more powerful.¡¨

The point though is that similar arguments were made to rule out the danger of World War I.

It is argued that because China is a beneficiary of the existing global system, it would not want to rock the boat. For China, ¡§The road to global power, in effect, runs through the Western order and its multilateral economic institutions.¡¨

In any case, ¡§In the age of nuclear deterrence, great-power war is, thankfully, no longer a mechanism of historical change. War-driven change has been abolished as a historical process,¡¨ he said.

Even if Ikenberry is right, there are intermediate stages involving the use or projection of force to maximize power. China¡¦s defense buildup is an exercise in this direction.

Indeed, China¡¦s Asian neighbors are already adjusting to the perceived reality of China¡¦s power.

There is a sense in some quarters that the US will not only need to engage with China, but it should seek to create a partnership with it to manage the world.

Fred Bergsten, director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, is a strong proponent of this view.

His basic argument is that because China is being so difficult ¡§pursuing strategies that conflict with existing norms, rules and institutional arrangements,¡¨ the only thing the US can do is co-opt it as a joint manager of world affairs, especially in economic matters.

Bergsten said: ¡§To deal with the situation [of a recalcitrant China], Washington should make a subtle but basic change to its economic policy strategy toward Beijing ... Instead of focusing on narrow bilateral problems, it should seek to develop a true partnership with Beijing so as to provide joint leadership of the global economic system.¡¨

¡§Only such a ¡¥G-2¡¦ approach will do justice, and be seen to do justice, to China¡¦s new role as a global economic superpower and hence as a legitimate architect and steward of the international economic order,¡¨ he said.

Bergsten is not terribly concerned about the sensitivities of other powers to a ¡§G-2¡¨ arrangement between the US and China, except to say ¡§it would be impolitic for Washington and Beijing to use the term ¡¥G-2¡¦ publicly.¡¨

His contention is that ¡§for the strategy [of joint management of the world] to work, the US would have to give true priority to China as its main partner in managing the world economy, to some extent displacing Europe.¡¨

The naivety of Bergsten¡¦s thesis is breathtaking.

First, there is an implicit assumption that countries like Japan, India, Europe and others would simply accept a US-China consortium to control the world economy.

The second assumption seems to be that if the US works hard to co-opt China into a joint leadership framework, it would lock it into a US-crafted system of global governance, both economic and political.

There is a growing sense that China is going to displace the US as the world¡¦s largest economy in the next few decades.

Under those circumstances, it would be smart for the US to forge a partnership with China to stay ahead of the game ¡X that, at least, would seem to be the logic.

The question, though, is: Why would China (if it looks like it¡¦s becoming the top dog) share its new patch with the old owner? Why wouldn¡¦t it like to recreate a new Middle Kingdom with China at the center?

Besides, with its GDP at about one-fifth of the US, it still has a long way to go. And even if China makes it, its per capita GDP will be way behind that of the US.

In any case, China has tremendous social, economic and political problems that make any prediction of its rise to the top highly questionable.

Rice raises the pertinent question: ¡§Ultimately, it is at least an open question whether authoritarian capitalism is itself an indefinitely sustainable model. Is it really possible in the long run for governments to respect their citizens¡¦ talents but not their rights? I, for one, doubt it.¡¨

Sushil Seth is a writer based in Australia


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Beijing¡¦s account of pre-Olympics attacks raises questions

Chinese officials have long sought to portray violence in Xinjiang as a black-and-white conflict, with separatist groups collectively known as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement carrying out attacks

By Edward Wong
Thursday, Oct 02, 2008, Page 9


Just days before the Olympic Games began in August, a truck plowed into a large group of paramilitary officers jogging in western China, sending bodies flying, Chinese officials said at the time.

They described the event as a terrorist attack carried out by two ethnic Uighur separatists aimed at disrupting the Olympics. After running over the officers, the men also attacked them with machetes and homemade explosives, officials said. At least 16 officers were killed, they said, in what appeared to be the deadliest assault in China since the 1990s.

But fresh accounts told to the New York Times by three foreign tourists who happened to be in the area challenge central parts of the official Chinese version of the events of Aug. 4 in Kashgar, a former Silk Road post in the western desert. One tourist took 27 photographs.

Among other discrepancies, the witnesses said that they heard no loud explosions and that the men wielding the machetes appeared to be paramilitary officers who were attacking other uniformed men.

¡¥For about five hours after that, police officers locked down the hotel and went room to room questioning people, the tourists said. They seemed unthreatening, the tourists said, but they kept asking about photographs and checking cameras.¡¦

That raises a number of questions: Why were police wielding machetes? Were they retaliating against assailants who had managed to obtain official uniforms? Had the attackers infiltrated the police unit, or was this a conflict between police officers?

¡§It seemed that the policeman was fighting with another policeman,¡¨ one witness said.

All of the witnesses spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of running afoul of Chinese authorities.

Chinese officials have declined to say anything more about the event, which was the first in a series of four assaults in August in which officials blamed separatists in the Xinjiang autonomous region. The attacks killed least 22 security officers and one civilian, according to official reports.

On Aug. 5, the party secretary of Kashgar, Shi Dagang (¥v¤j­è), said that the attack the previous day on the police officers, which also injured 16, was carried out by two Uighur men, a taxi driver and a vegetable seller. The Uighurs are a Turkic Muslim group that calls Xinjiang its homeland and often bridles at Han Chinese rule.

One man drove the truck, Shi said, and the other ran up to the scene with weapons. The attackers, both of whom were arrested, had each tossed an explosive and when they were captured had a total of nine unused explosive devices, machetes, daggers and a homemade gun, he said.

He never mentioned attackers in security uniforms. Neither did reports by Xinhua news agency. Only the North American edition of a Hong Kong newspaper, Ming Pao, did, citing police officials in Xinjiang, who now refuse to elaborate on the events.

Chinese officials have long sought to portray violence in Xinjiang as a black-and-white conflict, with separatist groups collectively known as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement carrying out attacks. Officials cite the threat of terrorism when imposing strict security measures on the region.

But the ambiguities of the scene described by the witnesses suggest that there could be different aspects to the violence.

Asked whether terrorists were involved, a Uighur man who on Friday drove past the scene of the attack said, ¡§They say one thing, we say something else.¡¨

Other Uighurs say the attackers were acting on their own, perhaps out of a personal grievance.

The three witnesses said they had seen the events from the Barony Hotel, which sits across the street from a compound of the People¡¦s Armed Police, China¡¦s largest paramilitary force, and another hotel outside of which the attack occurred.

One tourist took photographs, three of which were distributed by The Associated Press in August. He showed 24 others to the Times.

At around 8am on Aug. 4, the photographer was packing his bags by the window when he heard a crashing sound, he said. When he looked up, he said, he saw a large truck career into a group of officers across the street after having just hit a short yellow pole.

¡§It looked like a bowling ball hitting bowling pins,¡¨ he said. ¡§People were just flying around. It was hard to believe at first.¡¨

Chinese officials said later that the truck had barreled into 70 officers jogging away from the compound.

The photographer said that the truck then hit a telephone or power pole and slammed into the front of the other hotel, the Yiquan, across the street. A man wearing a white short-sleeve shirt tumbled from the driver¡¦s side, he said.

¡§He was pretty injured,¡¨ the photographer said. ¡§He fell onto the ground after opening the door. He wasn¡¦t getting up. He was crawling around for four or five seconds.¡¨

The photographer raced into the hallway to get his traveling companions, a relative and a friend, from another room.

The two others had also heard the crash and were already in the hallway. All three dashed to the window in the photographer¡¦s room. The photographer said he had been gone for about a minute. Back at the window, he said, he saw no sign of the truck driver.

The friend said: ¡§The first thing I remember seeing was that truck in the wall in the building across the street. I saw a pile of about 15 people. All their limbs were twisted every which way. There was a gentleman whose head was pressed against the pavement with a big puddle of blood.¡¨

¡§I remember just thinking, ¡¥It¡¦s surreal,¡¦¡¨ he said. ¡§I had this surreal feeling: What is really happening?¡¨

The tourists said the scene turned even more bizarre. One or two men dressed in green uniforms took out machetes and began hacking away at one or two other men dressed in the same type of uniforms on the ground.

¡§A lot of confusion came when two gentlemen, it looked like they were military officers ¡X they were wearing military uniforms too ¡X and it looked like they were hitting other military people on the ground with machetes,¡¨ the friend said.

¡§That instantly confused us,¡¨ he said. ¡§All three of us were wondering: ¡§Why are they hitting other military people?¡¨¡¦

The photographer grabbed a camera for the first time and crouched down by the window. His first photograph has a digital time stamp of 8:04am, and his last is at 8:07am. The first frames are blurry, and the action is mostly obscured by a tree. But it is clear that there are several police officers surrounding one or more figures by the sidewalk.

The photographer said that there had been two men in green uniforms on their knees facing his hotel and their hands seemed to be bound behind their backs. Another uniformed man began hitting one of them with a machete, he said.

¡§The guy who was receiving the hack was covered in blood,¡¨ he said. ¡§A lot of the policemen were covered in blood. Some were walking around on the street pretty aimlessly. Some were sitting on the curb, in shock I guess. Some were running around holding their necks.¡¨

The friend recalled a slightly different version of the event. He said he had seen two uniformed men with machetes hacking away at two men lying on their backs.

¡§I do kind of remember one of them moving,¡¨ he said. ¡§He was definitely injured but still kind of trying to squirm around.¡¨

The relative also saw something different. He said a man in a green uniform walked from the direction of the truck.

¡§A policeman who wasn¡¦t injured ran over and started hitting him with a machete,¡¨ the relative said. ¡§He hit him a few times, then this guy started fighting him back.¡¨

After being hit several times by the machete, the uniformed man fell down, and at least one other police officer came over to kick him, the relative said.

It quickly became clear to the tourists that the men with machetes were almost certainly paramilitary officers, and not insurgents, because they mingled freely with other officers on the scene.

While all this was happening, the three tourists said, a small bang came from the truck. It sounded like a car backfiring, the friend said. Black smoke billowed from the front of the truck.

The machete attack lasted a minute or two, the tourists said. One uniformed man then handed his machete to another who had a machete, the friend said. One of the photographs shows a man walking around clutching two machetes in one hand.

Another photograph shows a uniformed man carrying a rifle with a bayonet, a rare weapon in China.

Other officers were trying to disperse civilian onlookers, the tourists said. One of them saw the photographer with his camera in his hotel room window.

For about five hours after that, police officers locked down the hotel and went room to room questioning people, the tourists said. They seemed unthreatening, the tourists said, but they kept asking about photographs and checking cameras.

¡§They asked if we took any pictures; we said no,¡¨ the relative said.

The tourists had stuffed the camera into a bag.

¡§They asked if we sent any e-mails. I said no.¡¨

The photographer said that while at breakfast, he saw white body bags on gurneys being wheeled to vans. In the afternoon, when people were finally allowed to leave the hotel, workers were spraying down the street with hoses, he said.

The truck was gone. Except for a bent pole across the street, there was no sign that anything had happened.


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