Thursday, September 18, 2008

Chlorine leak sends 71 to hospital in SW China

Seventy-one people were hospitalized after a chlorine leak in a chemical plant in southwest China's Yunnan Province, local authorities said late Wednesday.

The leak occurred at around 3:35 p.m. Wednesday in liquified chlorine workshops of the Xundian Phosphorus and Power Company in Xundian Hui and Yi Autonomous County, the county's official sources said.

All the sick staff were sent to hospital within half an hour. They were receiving treatment or under medical observation. No deaths have been reported.

The company is under Yunnan Phosphorus Group.

The leak has been contained. Environmental authorities said air quality had returned to normal.

The cause of the leak is still being investigated.

Source: Xinhua

Quality watchdog cancels inspection exemptions for food producers

In the wake of the contaminated baby milk powder scandal, Chinese quality watchdog on Wednesday cancelled all kinds of national inspection exemptions previously given to food producers.

"Considering the particular characteristics of food products and the complexity in the cause of food safety problems, and with a view to further enhancing supervision over food producers, ensuring food safety and protecting consumers' interests," said the State Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine in an explanation of the move.

It said relevant companies must stop activities of publicizing their national inspection exemption qualifications. The national inspection exemption labels printed on food products and their packages became invalid from Wednesday.

To help companies avoid repeated examinations and reduce their burden, the country began exempting those producing top-quality and globally-competitive products from quality inspections in 2000.

According to previous regulations, any company in China could apply for the inspection-exemption if they had a long standing quality record, large market share, and implemented standards up to or above national or international levels.

The products that passed state or province-level inspections on three consecutive occasions were awarded the qualification. While producers still must report the inspection-free products' quality status on a regular basis, AQSIQ organized spot checks on these products annually.

Before the move, AQSIQ had cancelled the exemption qualification of Shijiazhuang-based Sanlu Group and the "Famous Brand" titles of its baby milk powder, other kinds of milk powder and sterilized milk.

It was amending quality standards of dairy products targeting non-food additives. It would adjust its baby formula standards to allow tests of poisonous substances such as melamine.

No melamine tests were conducted on dairy products in the past. New standards would be published later this year, AQSIQ said.

The country's Certification and Accreditation Administration also said on Wednesday it revoked all certificates given to Sanlu and its products, including the sanitation registration qualification of food for export.

The government on Wednesday announced comprehensive nationwide tests for melamine on every dairy product by every producer after a third infant died after drinking contaminated milk powder.

The latest fatality occurred in the southeastern Zhejiang Province, Minister of Health Chen Zhu told a press conference in Beijing. He gave no further information about the latest fatality.

The first two deaths both occurred in northwest Gansu Province. A five-month-old boy died on May 1 and an eight-month-old girl succumbed on July 22.

Both were fed with Sanlu formula and had suffered kidney failure

Another 6,244 infants were ill after consuming the tainted formula as of 8 a.m. on Wednesday, including 158 with acute kidney failure, of which 94 were in stable condition, Chen said.

Inspectors had found the chemical in 69 batches of baby milk powder produced by 22 companies nationwide. The seized items included such well-known brands as Sanlu, Mengniu, Yili and Yashili, among others.

The State Administration for Industry and Commerce, which supervises product quality at the retail level, on Wednesday ordered all the tainted products to be immediately removed from shelves.

The contaminated products were to be sealed at the site and kept from re-entering the market.

New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra, which owns a 43-percent stake in Sanlu, said on Tuesday its own Chinese business had voluntarily recalled one batch of Anmum Materna milk.

The company said the particular batch had been manufactured and distributed under licence by Sanlu using what it believed to be contaminated local raw milk.

Melamine is a toxic chemical, banned in food. It is rich in nitrogen and was illegally added to raw milk for protein tests that raise nitrogen levels.

Source: Xinhua

Ties 'unaffected by Japan's political change'

Japanese politicians from different parties have assured China that the bilateral relationship will not be affected by changes in their domestic politics, a senior Chinese official said yesterday.

"This time I had contact with Japanese politicians including leaders of different parties such as the Liberal Democratic Party, the Democratic Party and the Citizen's Party," said Liu Hongcai, vice-minister of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.

"One main concern we raised is whether the strategic relationship of mutual benefits between the two countries can withstand Japan's political situation and keep going. The answers I got were all affirmative."

"Whoever becomes Japan's prime minister, the strategic and mutually beneficial relations between China and Japan must persist, " Liu said.

With concerted efforts, China and Japan "will reap new fruits and add fresh chapter to the annals of bilateral relations," Liu said.

Liu made the remarks at the 4th Beijing-Tokyo Forum which ended yesterday. The forum was co-founded by China Daily and Tokyo-based Genron-NPO as a platform for dialogue between representatives from different walks of life in the two countries.

At a time Japan's political situation is clouded in uncertainty with prime minister Yasuo Fukuda's sudden resignation earlier this month, the forum was centered on keeping the momentum of China-Japan cooperation in various aspects such as trade, security, disaster relief and environmental protection.

"The world is facing some hard problems at present," Japanese Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Sadakazu Tanigaki said at the forum yesterday, referring to the US financial crisis and other global challenges.

"It is very necessary for our two countries to maintain heart-to-heart communication and play our due roles in the global trend," he said.

A joint statement released by China Daily and Genron NPO said organizers of the forum see it as a "long-term mission" to promote multi-layer dialogue between the two countries.

The statement also acknowledged that there remains room for improving understanding between the two peoples as a recent survey indicated different impressions in the two countries of each other.

Zhao Qizheng, chairman of the foreign affairs committee of China's top political advisory body, the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said there is reason for optimism.

"Some people's impressions about Japan are associated with the Nanjing Massacre. This is natural view about the history," Zhao said.

"But there are also Chinese whose impression is about Japan's ODA and the earthquake rescue teams," he added.

"In the future, more Chinese will remember Japan's sakura and Mount Fuji with more and more tourism and people-to-people exchanges. This is something we can expect."

Source: China Daily

Special supplement: Book offers insight on China's economic approach

A book by Li Ruogu, chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank of China, has been published by the People's Publishing House.

Titled Institutional Appropriateness and Economic Development - Development Economics Based on Chinese Practices, it draws on Li's years of work in macro and micro economic management.

With particularly rich experience in the financial sector, the author looks into the drivers behind China's success over the past 30 years of reform and opening-up, and identifies "institutional appropriateness" as the key to China's unique development path.

The book notes that China has chosen an appropriate institutional system compatible with the country's characteristics, development level, historical and cultural background and international environment.

As well, such an institutional system is able to adapt itself to the changing environment and conditions through reforms, innovations and re-adjustments to balance institutional appropriateness and changing situations.

The author argues that taking into account varying situations and conditions of different countries, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all system that can be applied universally, but rather each has appropriate systems that meet its needs.

In the end, the author points out that there is not only one institutional system on the road of development - the only single truth is the theme of development.

China's 30-year experience in opening up and reform has revealed that the most valuable core concept is "institutional appropriateness", Li writes. The concept can also be used as a reference for other developing countries.

Focusing on the theme of "institutional appropriateness", the book presents a substantial framework of development economics based on Chinese practices.

Through in-depth research that combines China's development with that of the entire Third World, the author studies both the singularity and universality of China's experience in the context of the modernization of all developing countries.

Putting forward the new theory of "institutional appropriateness", the author expects to invite more research interest in the topic.

Zhang Yansheng is director of the International Economic Research Institute of National Development and Reform Commission

Source: China Daily

Mayor of Shijiazhuang sacked over tainted milk powder scandal

The mayor of Shijiazhuang, capital of north China's Hebei Province, was sacked on Thursday over a tainted milk powder scandal.

The dismissal of Ji Chuntang was made at the local legislature, one day after Ji was removed from his post as vice secretary of the Shijiazhuang Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China .

The dairy giant Sanlu Group, based in Shijiazhuang, was the first company exposed in the scandal. More than 6,200 infants across the country had developed kidney stones after drinking Sanlu's tainted baby formula, including three who have died.


China arrests 12 more suspects in tainted milk scandal

Police arrested 12 more people in an early morning Hebei Province sweep on Thursday amid an intensifying crackdown involving tainted milk powder that has killed three infants and sickened 6,244 others.

Shi Guizhong, spokesman for the Hebei Provincial Security Department, said 18 suspects have been formally arrested so far. Ten others were detained.

All 18 suspects were said to be residents of greater Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei. Six allegedly sold the industrial chemical melamine, while the remaining 12 were dealers suspected of selling contaminated milk.

Police also seized some 300 kg of suspicious chemicals, of which 222.5 kg proved to be melamine.

One suspect surnamed Su, who was arrested on Tuesday, confessed during police interrogation that he bought 200 bags of melamine, each weighing 20 kg, between February 2007 and July 2008 at a cost of 200 yuan and resold the chemical to milk dealerships at 218 yuan.

The police is hunting for milk dealer Xue Jianzhong, who allegedly added melamine to his milk. Xue was put on the wanted list late on Wednesday.

Hebei also launched a province-wide, 10-day key task action to hunt down other violators involved in adulterating milk.

Sanlu Group Co., the dairy company based here, remains at the heart of the scandal. Its chairwoman and general manager, Tian Wenhua, who was fired, was detained by the police.


Laser TV to enter common families by 2010

A super-screen laser-TV in the Olympic coordination center was highly recognized by the BOCOG during the Olympics and Paralympics this summer.

Since April 2008, this 150-inch laser TV worked 18 hours per day and instantly broadcast video information of all the venues. Officials of the BOCOG delivered orders according to the information on the laser-TV.

It is said this laser-TV is only home-made display equipment used in Beijing Olympics and Paralympics. It is also the first time that laser display technology is used to serve Olympics and Paralympics.

Laser-TV is expected to enter common families around 2010.

By People's Daily Online