China’s Premier Wen Jiabao says the government was partly responsible for the tainted milk scandal that has sickened tens of thousands of children and shaken consumer confidence in the country’s food exports.
In an interview published in this week’s Science Magazine, Wen said the government feels “great sorrow” about the crisis, which erupted last month and has been blamed on the deaths of four babies.
Above: China’s Premier Wen Jiabao has admitted his government is partly to blame for the tainted milk scandal that has killed four infants and sickened 53,000 throughout the country.(AFP/File/Frederic J. Brown)
“We feel that although problems occurred at the company, the government also has a responsibility,” Wen said in the Sept. 20 interview posted Friday on the Web site of the weekly science journal published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
A Chinese version of the interview in the People’s Daily newspaper, the ruling Communist Party‘s mouthpiece, also quoted Wen as saying that the government had especially been lax in “supervision and management.”
From the Associated press by writer Audra Ang in Beijing
It is a rare admission by a member of China’s leadership, which still needs to cultivate popular support and strengthen bonds with ordinary citizens. Wen, who has made a reputation as a man of the people, is widely popular and has won admiration for his visits to the country’s poor rural areas and his work to rally victims of the devastating May 12 earthquake in Sichuan province.
Authorities have blamed dairy suppliers, saying they added the industrial chemical melamine to watered-down milk to dupe quality control tests and make the product appear rich in protein.
Melamine is used in the manufacturing of plastics, fertilizer, paint and adhesives. Health experts say ingesting a small amount poses no danger, but in larger doses, the chemical can cause kidney stones and lead to kidney failure. Infants are particularly vulnerable.
Wen said the process of making milk products — from the collection of raw milk to the production and transportation — “all need to have clear standards and testing requirements and corresponding responsibilities.”
“I once again solemnly emphasize that it is absolutely impermissible to sacrifice people’s lives and health in exchange for temporary economic development,” Wen said. “Food, all food, must meet international standards.”
In its efforts to deal with health and public relations issues stemming from the situation, the government has issued strict standards…