Archive for ‘food safety’

06/10/2016

Chinese people optimistic about the future, says Pew survey – BBC News

At a time of Brexit and talk of a wall between the United States and Mexico, it seems the Chinese are embracing international engagement.

They think their country’s power is rising, that their living standards will keep improving, that corruption is being cleaned up and that air pollution should be fixed even if it means slowing down economic growth.

These are the views which have emerged from a broad survey from Washington-based the Pew Research Center.

Elsewhere there is fear and uncertainty. Here optimism trumps all.

When asked about economic globalisation, 60% of people said it is a good thing and only 23% think it is bad for China.

While some China watchers are warning that this country’s mounting local government debt could mean that a hard landing is on the way, Chinese people don’t appear to share this pessimism.

Nearly 90% of respondents amongst this group of 3,154, interviewed face-to-face in China earlier this year, think that the state of their country’s economy is either “very good” or “somewhat good”.

GETTY IMAGES – Chinese people seem to remain optimistic

Looking into the future things will apparently get even better: 76% of people think the economy will improve over the next 12 months, 70% said their personal financial situation will improve and eight out of 10 people believe that their children will have a better standard of living than they do.

Bread and butter issues

It’s not that people are without concerns.

“Corrupt officials” is at the top of the table when it comes to people’s worries (83% said this was a “very big” or “moderately big” problem) and yet here too we see optimism.

Some 64% of them said that President Xi Jinping‘s massive anti-corruption drive would improve the situation over the next five years.

Running down the concern list, an alarmingly high number of people see income inequality and the safety of food and medicine as “very big” problems.

This should give the Chinese Communist Party pause for concern.

If you enjoy monopoly power on the basis that you are delivering “socialism with Chinese characteristics” then a small group of ultra-rich driving around in their sports cars and showing off their wealth while most struggle to pay the rent is surely at odds with your central message.

Then, if ordinary Chinese people can’t even trust the food and medicine they are giving their children, the possibility for social unrest over bread and butter issues is looming large.

The environment also emerges as a massive challenge with water and air pollution at the front of people’s minds.

Air pollution is so bad in China that half of those polled said their country should fight air pollution harder even if it means sacrificing economic growth.

GETTY IMAGES – Emissions from coal-powered industries, cars and heating systems generate the smog

Only 24% saw air deterioration as a necessary price to pay.

When it comes to the war of ideas in the top echelons of power here, those ministers in favour of tougher environmental protection measures could do worse than table this research.

A “major threat” to China?

The South China Sea and other geo-strategic tensions offer some of the most bleak opinions.

Nearly six out of 10 people think that territorial pressures with neighbours could lead to military conflict; 77% say their way of life needs to be protected from “foreign influence” (up by 13 percentage points since 2002) and only 22% say China should help other nations.

Regarding relations with rival superpower the United States people views are complex and, at times, seemingly contradictory.

Around half of Chinese respondents rated the US favourably but more than half think that Washington is trying to prevent China from becoming an equal power.

About 45% said that US power and influence poses a “major threat” to China. In fact the US came in at number one as the top international threat to the country.

GETTY IMAGES – More than half of Chinese people think that Washington is trying to prevent China from becoming an equal power

It’s interesting that some would see the Obama administration’s so-called “pivot to Asia” as a greater threat than say jihadist extremist groups just across the western border promoting bloody conflict in China’s vast Muslim region of Xinjiang.

Either way, whatever the perceived threat, China is seen as becoming ever more important and with ever more power at its disposal.Information is being controlled here ever more tightly – whether it is coming from the traditional media or sources online – so some analysts will see these views as the inevitable result of messages being delivered to the Chinese people by their government.

This may the be case but, in a world where politicians in various countries are accused of exploiting people’s fear and insecurity, could it be that a quarter of the globe’s population are going around with a smile on their dial because every day they look out the window and to them it just gets better and better?

Source: Chinese people optimistic about the future, says Pew survey – BBC News

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06/02/2015

China seizes 30,000 in 2014 for food, drug crimes – Xinhua | English.news.cn

Chinese police apprehended nearly 30,000 in connection with food and drug safety offences in 2014, closing 35,000 illegal factories and workshops, the Ministry of Public Security revealed Friday.

Food safety is still a serious problem in China, despite of some improvement, the ministry’s Hua Jingfeng told a press conference.

Hua noted that cases related to baby formula and “gutter oil” have decreased, but those concerning other substandard foods have increased.

Violations by big companies have dropped substantially while cases involving small companies and workshops increased, he said.

Some new crimes have emerged, including injecting Epinephrine Hydrochloride into pork which makes the pork look fresh and adds weight.

Last month, police arrested more than 110 suspects for selling pork from diseased pigs, confiscating over 1,000 tons of contaminated pork and 48 tons of cooking oil processed from the pork and other unclean meat.

via China seizes 30,000 in 2014 for food, drug crimes – Xinhua | English.news.cn.

19/06/2013

China’s next food scandal: honey laundering

SCMP: “China‘s National Television has brought another case of “food forgery” to the spotlight in a country where fake eggs, beef and tofu have become staple items in national news coverage.

china_bees_pek52_4100931.jpg

Police in Chongqing‘s Hechuan district have discovered a production site for fake honey and confiscated about 500 kilograms of the fake nectar, the national broadcaster said in a report on Sunday.

“The artificial honey contained zero per cent real honey,” the report said, showing a chemical analysis report according to which the honey contained 187 milligrams of aluminium residue to every kilogram of honey.

The report has gone viral on Chinese microblogs, where it has been shared more than 300,000 times, making it one of the most trending topics on Wednesday. Newspapers have followed up with reports on how to identify fake honey.

“Artificial honey has a chemical odour, it either has a pungent or a fruity smell, whereas real, pure honey has a subtle scent of flowers,” one report reads.”

via China’s next food scandal: honey laundering | South China Morning Post.

30/05/2013

Smithfield Foods to be bought by Chinese firm Shuanghui International

Washington Post: “Smithfield Foods, whose signature hams helped make it the world’s largest pork producer, is being bought by a Chinese firm in a deal that marks China’s largest takeover of an American consumer brand.

The $4.7 billion purchase by Shuanghui International touches several sensitive fronts at once — the quick rise of Chinese investment in the United States, China’s troubled record on the environment and the acquisition of Smithfield’s animal gene technology by a country considered to be America’s chief global competitor.

Consumer spending was stronger than first thought, but businesses restocked more slowly and state and local government spending cuts were deeper.

What’s more, the deal puts a major company from a Chinese industry with a history of food-safety problems in charge of a U.S. firm with past environmental problems of its own.

Separately, U.S. government and business officials often complain that China uses strict control of its market of 1.6 billion people to force American companies that want to do business there to surrender intellectual property.

The deal may become a test of U.S. attitudes toward China as it moves through likely reviews by the Justice Department and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

With no obvious national security concerns stemming from the production of ham, bacon and sausage, Smithfield chief executive C. Larry Pope said he expects approval. He emphasized that the deal wasn’t about bringing Chinese pork products or management standards to the United States but about sending U.S. products and expertise the other way. The deal will leave intact Smithfield’s management, workforce and 70-year presence in Virginia, he said.”

via Smithfield Foods to be bought by Chinese firm Shuanghui International – The Washington Post.

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11/04/2013

* British shops ration baby milk as Chinese demand surges

Reuters: “British shops are rationing sales of baby milk after Chinese visitors and bulk buyers cleared their shelves to send it to China, where many parents fear the local versions are dangerous.

Shoppers browse the aisles in the Canary Wharf store of Waitrose in London January 23, 2013. REUTERS/Neil Hall

The British Retail Consortium (BRC), whose members account for 80 percent of the sector, said many stores had imposed a two-box limit on each customer to deter the “unofficial exports” to China.

Demand for foreign milk powder has been high in China since at least six infants died and 300,000 fell ill in 2008 after they drank milk laced with the industrial chemical melamine.

The scandal sapped consumer confidence in Chinese-made food and led to shortages of powdered milk in Hong Kong and Australia as people bought boxes to export to China.

The rise of the middle-class Chinese working mother has greatly increased sales of baby milk in the world’s most populous country. Fast-growing markets like China support a global baby food market worth an estimated $30 billion a year.”

via British shops ration baby milk as Chinese demand surges | Reuters.

31/12/2012

* Report confirms blog’s power in fighting graft

This research report confirms what has been obvious for several years: the power of the Internet over formal communications channels.

China Daily: “Micro blogs, like the social networking site Sina Weibo, have improved authority’s efficiency in handling anti-corruption cases, but also pose challenges in distinguishing true from false, according to a recently released report by Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s Public Opinion Research Lab.

Of the 24 widespread micro blog reports this year, nine have been confirmed as frauds, the report said.

“The micro blog plays a major role in fighting corruption nowadays, but posts online need to be carefully sifted to find what is reliable information,” the report said.

As more netizens become familiar with and participate in fighting corruption, more messages spread each day that await authorities’ attention, said Xie Yungeng, an expert in public opinion and new media at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

“A regulation should be established on what kind of reports discipline authorities should respond to and set time limits for their response,” he said.

“The new way of fighting corruption is testing the wisdom and ability of disciplinary bodies,” said Zhu Lijia, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of Governance.”

via Report confirms blog’s power in fighting graft[1]|chinadaily.com.cn.

30/12/2012

* Beijing to enact strict new food safety laws

Yet more reforms by the new government, this time in food safety.

Xinhua/Reuters: “Beijing will introduce tough new laws to punish firms that flout food safety laws, the official Xinhua news agency reported, a significant move in China’s struggle to get its abysmal food safety record under control.

The announcement follows a similar declaration by the city of Shanghai on Wednesday saying it would blacklist firms that flout food safety laws.

Under the new Beijing regulations, to take effect in April, firms caught producing or selling unsafe foods will be banned from operating in Beijing for life, according to a municipal food safety regulation passed on Thursday, the report said.

Employees found responsible for food safety problems and the executives of companies that commit food safety problems will not be allowed to work in the industry for five years after their firms’ licenses are revoked, the report said.

China’s food safety problems have proven difficult to eradicate even after repeated government campaigns to enforce standing laws and change attitudes at Chinese companies.

Frequent media reports refer to cooking oil being recycled from drains, carcinogens in milk, and fake eggs. In 2008, milk laced with the industrial chemical melamine killed at least six children and sickened nearly 300,000.

On Monday, Shanghai’s food safety authority said the level of antibiotics and steroids in Yum Brands Inc‘s KFC chicken was within official limits, but found a suspicious level of an antiviral drug in one of the eight samples tested.

Yum! Brands logo

Yum! Brands logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yum faced criticism last week from China’s state-owned broadcaster, which said Yum’s KFC chickens in China contained an excessive level of antibiotics.”

via Beijing to enact strict new food safety laws: Xinhua | Reuters.

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