Joe Amon: Vaccines, Melamine, Lead, and Chinese Officials

Chinese girl crying out while receiving a shot, with supportive family members beside her.

Don’t you hate it when you strongly agree with someone’s general point yet feel they’ve blemished it by including something so patently disagreeable or unhelpful you just have to say something? I’m sure many of my readers can identify with that sentiment, when reading my posts.

Anyway, it’s Saturday and I’m looking at an opinion piece by Joe Amon, a Director at Human Rights Watch, published on the Wall Street Journal and reprinted on the Huffington Post:

Chinese Corruption Is Hazardous to Your Health

Local officials often prioritize economic gain at the expense of public health

Agree very much so.

At the end of March, a Chinese newspaper reported that four children died and many more fell ill in Shanxi province after receiving vaccines that were not properly stored. The heat-sensitive vaccines had been taken out of air-conditioned rooms because government labels — required to show that the vaccines had been bought from official suppliers at inflated prices — would not adhere to cold vials. The result? An untold number of children are now vulnerable to polio and other diseases.

Instead of investigating the matter, local health officials denied the story as “basically untrue,” threatened outraged parents and prevented them from seeking help from higher authorities. The whistleblower, an employee of the Shanxi Center for Disease Control and Prevention, was demoted.

This was one of the recent China scandals I didn’t follow. On the face of it, my understanding of the mix of ignorance, corruption, and selfish irresponsibility prevalent in various aspects of China doesn’t lead me to question this summary retelling of this scandal. What makes me a little uneasy about the justice Joe does to the above incident, however, is the injustice he does to another scandal he invokes below that I’m far more versed in.

Covering up corruption and official mismanagement in health care is a common response among Chinese officials. That’s despite government promises that lessons were learned in 2008, when producers of baby formula discovered it was cheaper to poison infants than sell authentic formula. Thousands of babies became sick from ingesting milk tainted with melamine — an industrial product more commonly used to make plastics.

Like the tainted vaccines, the melamine scandal is a story about local officials sacrificing the health of Chinese citizens to make a profit. Factories that produced the tainted milk were able to slide through the regulation pipeline by partnering with local government officials. And when children became sick, the local government’s response was to threaten and arrest parents rather than offer help to the sick children.

I strongly agree with the overall criticism of how Chinese officials commonly respond to corruption and mismanagement: covering it up, trying to silence the victims and whistle-blowers. To put it bluntly, those are dick moves.

What I’m finding hard to let go is the suggestion that “producers of baby formula discovered it was cheaper to poison infants than sell authentic formula.” Argued semantically, this phrase can be justified, even under artistic license. However, I still feel the insinuated imagery that these producers were intentionally out to “poison” babies is at least a wee bit unfair. Why?

Because “poison” is being used as an active verb here.

Oh noes!

Right, look, the parts of the milk powder supply chain that knowingly diluted the milk with melamine surely did so in order to selfishly squeeze more money out for themselves. I’m just saying I’m pretty certain the vast majority of them were operating under the presumption that what they were doing was indeed cheating the customer but it “wasn’t going to really hurt them”.  Famous last words.

Chinese officers prepare to destroy milk powder tainted with melamine.

Regardless, there’s a difference between negligence and intent. The milk producers discovered it was cheaper to “dilute” their product than sell pure product. They didn’t discover it was cheaper to “poison” babies. We can argue that some of these people should’ve known better and we can damn those who did but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It isn’t as if none of us haven’t done similar things before, making compromises in the face of certain realities, misjudging the amount we can “get away with” and how much others can tolerate our indiscretions.

I’m not defending what those guilty did. I’m not justifying the consequences of their actions. I surely don’t want this stuff to keep happening. However, I just think this is unnecessary vilification, one that encourages people to jump to judgments of individual human morality without a reasonable appreciation of the context surrounding why some people in China are motivated or compelled do these things.

This month the Chinese government announced a new set of health-care priorities. These goals include strengthening the rural health insurance system and raising production standards for pharmaceuticals. But the government’s health-care wish list ignores the corruption, greed and mismanagement that are key barriers to providing essential medical care. These issues are clearly illustrated in what will likely be the next big scandal, brewing on an even larger scale.

Okay, indulge my nitpicking here. How can something be “clearly illustrated” (past tense) in something that hasn’t yet happened? It’s an emotive sentence — I agree — but just a little wonky.

Industrial pollution is causing heavy-metal poisoning in almost every corner of the country. Local government officials in the cities where the poisoning occurs deny and cover up the health consequences rather than providing help for thousands of adults and children suffering from lead poisoning. In one village, local officials prevented a bus carrying parents seeking medical help from reaching the hospital in a nearby town.

Totally more dick moves.

Perhaps most troubling are consistent accounts that hospitals have been paid to withhold or give false results for children who are tested for lead poisoning. Many of these children have serious neurological and developmental problems, but treatment and sustained medical care have been practically nonexistent.

Dick Moves +1.

Medical care for victims of industrial pollution is guaranteed under the Chinese constitution, yet victims’ care has apparently taken a backseat to the protection of local officials with a financial stake in the polluting factories. In Fengxiang, Shaanxi province, where thousands of children have lead poisoning, local officials demonstrated their priorities by allowing the polluting factory to re-open, with no change in its operations.

+2.

The Chinese government has laws on the books designed to tackle corruption and protect the health of the Chinese population, but these laws lack an enforcement mechanism to ensure accountability. It’s no surprise then that local officials prioritize economic gain at the expense of public health. Penalizing corruption and rewarding local officials for improvements in public health should be recognized as a critical part of legal and health-care reform.

Yes, agree. But I don’t understand why Joe would prescribe penalizing corruption as something that should be recognized as part of reform at the end of a paragraph he starts by acknowledging that the government already has laws designed to tackle corruption. He knows the problem lies in enforcement but instead of threshing that out, he goes for restating the mutually-agreed-upon goal.

In a globalized world, the effects of cover-ups by corrupt officials are felt far from China’s borders. Melamine-tainted dairy products from China were found in countries all over the world. In February, three Chinese babies headed to the U.S. for adoption were rushed to the hospital with extremely high levels of lead in their blood. From fake cough syrup killing children in Panama to toys coated in lead harming children in the U.S., the cases exposed by the free media outside China suggest that we all face hidden risks.

Read: “Everyone beware! This could happen to you!”

It is the Chinese people, however, who bear the brunt of the harm to their health from corruption. Before the government embarks on ambitious health-care reform, it needs to address these basic priorities. Chinese officials must understand that their job is to protect health, not profits.

Read: “But of course, this isn’t just about us, but about their own good too!” I’m being mean of course. No one faces more risk and suffers from the corruption and questionable practices of China’s manufacturers and regulatory apparatus as much as the domestic Chinese people do.

Joe’s overall point in his opinion piece here is simply that too much shit is happening in China that is affecting too many people in too many unacceptable ways and “goddammit, something needs to be done about it!” Totally agree. He identifies Chinese government officials as being responsible for allowing, perpetuating, and covering-up these problems due to financial conflicts of interests. Very true. His writing of this opinion piece isn’t about revolutionizing anything or even really suggesting how to solve anything. It’s just meant to create more awareness that will lead to more demand for “something to be done about it”. I can agree with that entirely.

But what if I told you, Joe, that it is the job of Chinese officials to also protect profits? Then what?

I think in addressing that question, we’ll get beyond merely gaping at the problems and superficial causes. Maybe we can get to the slightly more meaningful underlying issues, the conflicts of interest, that are far harder to give answers to and far harder to prescribe solutions for. Hell, sometimes the answer is to just ask more questions.



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  1. King Tubby

    Convoluted piece which lost me. You don’t have children, but I do ….. As you know all Chinese children have a Health/Vaccination Book. Had it explained to me by Mrs Tubby. Why schools are no longer allowed to do vaccinations.

    Why? In some instances, they have been administering serums * long past* their use by date. The regular vaccination course for 1 to 6 year olds was consequently handed over to the local health clinics. Whether this proves you argument or not, I don’t know, but I sure as hell don’t trust the PRCs drug safety regime yesterday, today and tomorrow.

    • Er, I don’t think I made a comment about anything you brought up?

    • Jones

      I remember the dreaded vaccination buses that use to show up at school. Then we’d all be lined up out in front and forced to go in, one at a time. Kind of like the execution buses, but in the end they’re good for you.

      …or so they say. ::dramatic chord::

      • Jones, you really have your moments. In addition to Sim City and your new avatar, our fondness quotient has shot up to stratospheric levels.

        In a purely heterosexual way.

    • lolz

      Ah yes, the harsh realities of the 3rd world nation.
      There is a reason we call China a 3rd world nation; the average person makes about 1/8th that of developed nations.

      Mind you, if you want better vaccinations you can easily get them in China. You just have to pay more for them. And that’s the question: why will pay for all of these great things which pundits from Western nations insist China on having? If the answer is the Chinese government, then these people from the Western nations better buy ALOT more junk from China.

    • song of the article…

      ”one cup of coffee before I go“

      tell me Comrade Tubby

      who sung that?

      五毛党万岁

      • King Tubby

        Kedafu. Ah gee. Q @ A before breakfast. The Bobster. If Im wrong, you can jeer at me and I won’t declare civil war.

  2. Jones

    The absolute best thing to do, no matter what your social, political, nationality, pop-culture, movie, music, favorite vacation spot, or preferable weather to enjoy while sitting on the porch drinking whatever form of heated morning beverage, or even if it happens to be iced tea in the middle of the day in the blazing sun after a hard day of picking no matter what your preferred cash crop is…no matter what it is you feel or think about anything, avoid the HuffPo.

    There’s always something you can agree on and thank the heavens that there’s a journalist out there willing to write about it. However, they always end up soiling it with sensationalist wording and claims. It’s kind of like that drama queen that just happens to be into current events.

    • This was actually first published on WSJ. However, I generally agree with you that there’s plenty of stuff in most mainstream publications to agree or disagree with.

      There’s actually nothing really objectionable about Joe’s piece here, which is why I preface it on the home page as just being a collection of thoughts and nitpicking on my part. I do think it panders to common Western narratives about Chinese product quality/dangers and the associated corruption/cover-ups. I also personally find it to be rather uninteresting because it doesn’t have an angle that isn’t already really, really commonplace in the West (things are bad there, they need more reform/enforcement). But coming from someone who works at HRW, it could’ve been, well, “worse”. Just consider how differently I reacted to Nicole Kempton’s piece on Google, remember?

      It’s okay, I just felt the active “poison children” bit was unnecessarily unfair.

      • Standard WSJ work. Like Jones was saying about the HuffPo (on the other end of the political spectrum). Plenty of facts that seem to have been assembled with care, and even some thoughts worth considering, but then they ruin the whole thing with a bit of sensationalist wording. Is that Rupert Murdoch’s influence? I had never read any WSJ pieces until relatively recently, so I wouldn’t be able to compare.

  3. Bin Wang

    Local official corruption is OLD news in China. If Amon has the panacea, let’s have it. But I doubt he does. There’s no easy answer to this and it’s not like Beijing wants this. A whole lot more of sitting in your air conditioned house talking about the energy crisis doesn’t do a whole lot of good–just more gum-flappin’ to sell news.

    As I understand it, there’s been installed an express lane to execution for people found responsible for this stuff–tainted milk, hackings, etc. Whether it works or not, it’s at least evidence that this isn’t being sanctioned or anything by Beijing. Sounds like another “just a public service reminder to all patriotic citizens about how much China sucks” article to me …

    • lolz

      Well, the author the article is the “health director the Human Rights Watch” so he is just doing his job. If he attacks say, the US, and talks about millions of american citizens (in a First world superpower nonetheless) who can’t even afford to go to the doctors, or points out that the world’s largest democracy India have the same level of corruption as China despite having more human rights, then he would be out of a job because he would piss off the elites from both the left and the right.

      Nonetheless, his points are correct. Chinese corruption is horrid, and it needs to be reported. The question is why publish pieces like this on WSJ when its fairly clear that the folks who will receive the biggest benefits from this are the foes of universal healthcare.

  4. This article was written by someone who pays 2x the price of Chinese milk for milk imported from New Zealand, when he gets sick he pays his chemist three times as much for Japanese anti-biotics because he knows that the Chinese manufactured anti-biotics might be cut.

    Every day the writers of China Divide further convince me that they’re paid agents of the Chinese government

    Back when I worked in Beijing, every day I woke up to a free copy of the China Daily in the foyer of my hotel room. As I read it over a brilliant omelette (the Chinese make great food, I’ll give them that) and a terrible cup of coffee (why can’t the Chinese make decent coffee?!), I pondered why the CPC wasted their money on such ineffective propaganda and why they didn’t employ propagandists who could understand and respectively manipulate a Western liberal Judeo-Christian worldview.

    Within a week I came to the conclusion that the propaganda targeted at Westerners couldn’t be seen to contradict the more Chauvinistic propaganda targeted at the 1.2 billion Chinese who can’t understand English at a functional level. What I would have done in their position is fund writers who aren’t legally associated with the Chinese government, people like the writers at China Divide, hence a mask of plausible deniability would allow them to occasionally criticise the CPC whilst offering them broad support.

    That’s exactly what you’re doing, that’s exactly what this blog, is, it’s exactly what I’d do if I wanted to increase Western support for China’s current regime.

    • Bin Wang

      Yes, yes, all those who don’t support the collapse of the Chinese government are paid agents … no fallacies there at all.

      Much better that no one attempts to balanced out the Western media bias against China in comprehensible English so that everyone may be lead like sheep to have as much contempt for China as you do.

      • Jones

        Actually, as far as I can tell, a lot of mainstream news (Not including Faux News, of course) seems rather neutral to China. Now if you’re talking about editorials or opinion columns, that’s different. But I never consider editorials or opinion columns to be news, because they aren’t. I also noticed that a lot of news reports get a lot of information from Xinhua and whatnot. You’ll notice that all of these articles ChinaDivide breaks down and responds to are actually columns or editorials. Until you get Anderson Cooper crying in the middle of Guizhou over innocent lives lost, asking why the government didn’t do whatever fast enough, then I wouldn’t consider the usual media outlets to be actually that noticeably biased against China, especially when compared to how outnumbered they are to non-US Government friendly pieces there are.

        • Lolz

          You are talking about the us mainstream media I presume. It’s getting more neutral over the years thanks to blogs such as anticnn, but I don’t think it’s neutral at all on issues such as Tibet and Xinjiang. On these two topics much more effort is giving to tell the anti China side of the story. I am still waiting for someone to interview the Han Chinese in Tibet and ask them whether the government forced them to move to Tibet, a claim which is often taken for granted in the media.

          The other news topics such as on the economy, health, etc are largely netural because numbers are numbers. You report them or you don’t.

          Keep in mind though that Tibet xinjiang dominate news items about china and that there are many, if not more editorials on china than news items. You yourself agreed that most editiorials are negative. So if the argument is whether mainstream media has an anti China bias then the answer is damn obvious because editorials are part of the media. Most people can’t tell the difference between opeds and actual news items anyway.

          • Jones

            “but I don’t think it’s neu tral at all on issues such as Tibet and Xin jiang.”
            But as much as I hear about “anti-China bias”, you’d think they’d be running these stories all the time. And about more than just one or two subjects. I mean, here’s a column about medical whatnot in China, and then we hear that the media is biased against China? About Xinjiang and Tibet? That makes no sense. I haven’t heard anything out of Xinjiang and Tibet for a long, long time.

            I think this “anti-China bias” is just fear, for some reason unknown to me, and assumptions that the big bad West is picking on China. It’s not.

          • Bai Ren

            This is the dominate narritive in Western media about China. However I disagree that all consumers of the news are deeply influenced by this dominate narritive and like JONES says its been a long long time in the instant important gaze of amerian consumers.

          • lolz

            “I think this “anti-China bias” is just fear, for some rea­son unknown to me, and assump­tions that the big bad West is pick­ing on China. It’s not.”

            There is definitely an element of fear, the question is who is fearing who, which media publishes more alarmist articles about the other nation. I think the answer is obvious.

            Now, about the big bad west picking on China, that is a historical fact. However I don’t think the modern media is picking on China to justify imperialism as it did in the past. Today, for the media China bashing sells papers. For politicians on both the left and the right China bashing is a way to gather more votes. Finally for non-profit organizations such as the one the author works for, China bashing is a safe way to gather means more donations.

          • Jones

            “Today, for the media China bash ing sells papers. For politi cians on both the left and the right China bash ing is a way to gather more votes.”

            Who are they selling papers to, though? I mean, who seriously is that afraid of China that they go out and buy newspapers and magazines on the matter? I really can’t remember the last time I read anything about China in the newspapers, and we get a lot of them at the hotel (where I work). The last thing I remember seeing was about the increase of Chinese students in the US, and there was no suggestion of it being bad. It was just a lot of interviews with Chinese students about their experiences studying here.

            I’m also not really sure which politicians you’re talking about. There’s very little talk of China amongst politicians, at least when campaigning or even for PR stunts. It’s pretty much all domestic/Iraghanistan related.

            This is the fear I was talking about. The fear that the media and politicians are bashing China for profit. You can bring up reports on 2008 clashes in Tibet, but that was incidental. I’m not entirely sure what other anti-China reporting from the past two years after that that you’re talking about. And I mean reports, not editorials.

      • lolz

        I think it would be better if we all just stop responding to PP’s obvious attempts at trolling.

      • I’m not a sheep, both the political left and right of Korea typically manage to overcome their inherent prejudice against the Chinese and romanticise them in an irrational way.

        The right (what you could broadly define as “my camp”) see often the CPC as as reincarnation of General Park and his brand of State Capitalism. In reality the modern CPC have neither the ruthless inclination towards efficiency nor the disinclination towards corruption that Park had

        The left (both liberals and pinkos) see the modern CPC as fellow travellers and obviously you’re as familiar with reality as I am, the Chinese worker is neither empowered nor liberated so you’re as aware of the deficiency of this line as thought as I am.

        I am fully aware of the Korean bias TOWARDS China’s current illegitimate regime and I have made a point of differentiating myself via my attachment to reality

    • Jones

      They can’t make coffee because it’s all powdered coffee added to hot water. Then you’re charged 30rmb for it.

      • Bin Wang

        That and no one in China takes coffee the way it ought to be taken — black.

      • Jay (a different one)

        No problem with the coffee here — just need to know where to go. Not even talking about the various Starbucks, Costa, Coffee Bean and other chains….

        • Yeah I mean fucking sure there’s a few good coffee places in the big cities, there’s a nice little place near the Worker’s Stadium in Beijing but that costs 35rmb for a decent Cappuccino, in Sydney or LA you’d pay 15rmb, in Seoul or Pusan you’d pay about 18rmb. When you fly back to Korea and hand in your expense account they’ll say “YOU PAID 5000 WON FOR A CUP OF COFFEE! and you have to say THAT’s WHAT A FUCKING DECENT CUP OF COFFEE COSTS IN CHINA! WHAT DID YOU EXPECT ME TO DO, INTRAVENOUSLY INJECT MYSELF WITH CAFFEINE! THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN CHEAPEST, ISN’T THAT WHAT YOU WANT YOU GREEDLY CUNTS? YOU SENT ME TO FUCKING CHINA IN THE FIRST PLACE, HAVEN’T YOU TAKEN YOUR POUND OF FLESH!?!?!?

      • troll-ing

        or

        traw-ling on my boat?

        you pay 30 kuai for 咖啡!

        I spend 2.5 for a can of coffee from some “earth coffee company” at “Quick-mart 24/7″

        sometimes away from the “development zone”

        I pay 3 kuai,

        what is the difference between 3 and 2.5

        ….

        thats right…

        keep it real
        keep it red
        keep it….

        Forever…

    • King Tubby

      Okay, Playa has called you guys out. Its High Noon with Gary Cooper. But I think he is talking about PRC soft power ambitions, an ambition worth dwelling on for a post.

      The obvious. China’s stated intention to develop successfu global media outreach, similar to Al Jazeera.
      Well, I jeer at that idea given CCTV to date. Not worth commentary.

      Confucius centres. As stated in a back post. We accept then into our unis, or at least we grab the cash, and then locate them at the bottom of the lift well, and hope they don’t create any academic waves. As instruments of soft power, they are risible.

      Music is the read mediun for influencing global opinion. Mention Jamaica anywhere in the world, and the great majority of people would have warm and furry positive thoughts. Why. Its greatest export is reggae in its many variants, despite the fact that the country is run by corrupt political cartels, drug gangs and there is widespread and endemic poverty.

      Ditto many countries in Africa.(Senegal, Nigeria, Guinea). Look at Mali. Piss poor landlocked country of 8 million. Yet its music has massive global influence. Turn on a radio in Europe and go round the dial.

      Until China is able to turn out multiple Lady Ga Ga’s, or something a bit more authentic, who take Western popular culture by storm, we will still be waiting for that warm and fuzzy Sino moment.

      • friendo

        That’s an excellent way to appeal to retards, yes. As far as I know, CCTV is superior to Fox News and CCN, but that’s not saying much.

        The people who have the most influence on those who actually matter are Chinese people themselves.

    • Pusan Playa,

      Poisoning the well aside, you really shoudn’t go out on a limb pretending you have any idea about my consumption patterns besides having internet access.

      I’m as much an agent for CCP propaganda as you’re an agent of foreign powers on a mission to instigate domestic Chinese instability. I do appreciate how easily and often you live up to being the mirror image of Chinese fenqing though.

      • How am I the “mirror image of the fenquing”

        At times I’ve been critical of both Korean culture and our current political system so I couldn’t directly parallel China’s internet Mujahiddeen

        I am not some sort of cultural piranha with a taste for Chinese blood, if history had turned out a bit differently I might very well be making offensive posts about Chancellor Reinhard Heydrich II on deutschedivide.com but unfortunately for you as it turns out, the PRC is the regime with the most blood on it’s hands and I have no choice but to engage the Sino-Bolshevists and their defenders in intellectual combat.

        • Uh, because rather than discussing the subject in contention, you jump to ad hominem attacks and smear campaigning?

          That’s not intellectual combat. That’s intellectual dishonesty.

          • Ohh yeah sure, lets play the “sorry, this isn’t personal” card

            If this isn’t personal, why didn’t you invite me to write for this blog despite my popularly acclaimed commentary on contemporary Chinese culture?

            I don’t want to write an article every 3 or 4 days like you guys do, just once a month would do me just fine.

          • LoL, what?

            How am I playing any “sorry, this isn’t personal” card?

            You don’t have any popularly acclaimed commentary on contemporary Chinese culture. Repeating what critics of China want to hear so they feel validated in knowing that other people harbor the same ignorance, bias, fears, resentment, and bigotry is not the type of “popularly acclaimed commentary” china/divide wants.

            The last time you tried proclaiming how popular you are, Fauna shot you down and embarrassed you. You’re good at trolling. No one denies that. We give you full credit. The only thing is, I don’t think you realize when you’re getting trolled yourself.

          • I was the #1 Chinasmack Commentator, P comes after K and yet I was listed as #1 so I had at least one more vote than you did and hence the greatest claim to popular acclaim.

            I say what I think, not what my Political Commissar tells me to think.

            Kai, I respect you on an intellectual level, learning both English and Chinese fluently must be extremely difficult, I can speak both Korean and English fluently but it takes all the intellectual energy I can muster to maintain a comprehensive vocabulary and a verbose eloquence.

            So despite our differences I admire you….but only in the same manner that I admire Stalin or other accomplished intellectuals that I despise for ideological reasons.

            So I reiterate my question, why was I not invited to write for this blog despite my diverse accomplishments and my blog commentary acclamation?

            I was fucking infuriated by the article about China’s Naval buildup, I am a fucking Maritime Engineer who served in the military for two years, why did some prostate stimulating dickhead feel more qualified to write about Naval Warfare than I was?

          • LoL, I’ll just refer to what Fauna said.

            I do find it mildly amusing that you keep clutching to that, though. It’s this kind of silly behavior from you, this straight-faced sense of humor, that makes it easier to not take you too seriously as a troll, and why I still keep you around.

          • “Keep me around”

            Do you have fantasies about making me disappear as your paymasters did to Gao Zhisheng?

            Unfortunately for you I no longer reside within the boarders of your vicious regime and I have nothing to fear from your veiled threats.

        • friendo

          the PRC is the regime with the most blood on it’s hands

          Except it’s not, and the 70 million figure is an outlandish lie with roots in CIA sponsored propaganda (which the CIA openly admits to).

  5. Hermes Trismegistus, in his landmark book, The Emerald Tablet, teaches, “As above, so below” (or in this case, “as below, so above”. You hit upon, what might appear to the uninitiated a very minor point; nevertheless, this momentary lapse of judgment on the part of the writer, tends to cause needless misunderstandings and controversies. The insertion of a more-or-less off-the-cuff sarcasm, causes the entire piece to be questioned as balanced reportage.

    Had the writer in his final proof, edited his piece smartly, he would have, perhaps reluctantly, took out the sarcastic sentence, and let the already horrific facts speak for themselves.

  6. Goodness

    Chi­nese Cor­rup­tion Is Haz­ardous to Your Health

    Local offi­cials often pri­or­i­tize eco­nomic gain at the expense of pub­lic health

    Agree very much so.

    The author of the piece agrees with the thrust of the WSJ article, but then spend an extraordinary amount of time scouring said article for nonexistent slights and drawing B.S. conclusions.

    This piece should be reprinted in the Onion.

    • I don’t recall making any conclusions except that I generally agree with him but want to point out where and why certain things give me pause. I’m not sure why that’s B.S. I’m not in the habit of agreeing with everything one says just because I agree with some of the things said. Maybe that’s the underlying disagreement between you and I from our chinaSMACK days?

      • Goddness

        I’m just saying I’m pretty certain the vast majority of them were operating under the presumption that what they were doing was indeed cheating the customer but it “wasn’t going to really hurt them”

        -There’s a nice one right there.

        how can something be “clearly illustrated” (past tense) in something that hasn’t yet happened? It’s an emotive sentence

        -I didn’t see anything emotive about it. I did see some sober analysis.

        Joe’s overall point in his opinion piece here is simply that too much shit is happening in China that is affecting too many people in too many unacceptable ways and “goddammit, something needs to be done about it!”

        -There is the biggest one.

        Totally more dick moves.

        Dick Moves +1

        +2.

        That’s more then a ‘little pause’.

        I can’t even remember what we argued about back on ChinaSMACK. It has nothing to do with that.

        I’m perplexed as to how you can agree with Amon’s original assertion (Local officials often prioritize economic gain at the expense of public health) then attempt to marginalize and mischaracterize the material that supports that same assertion . An assertion you agreed with earlier. Astonishing.

        • Goodness,

          –There’s a nice one right there.

          How is that BS? You’re not familiar with the concept of people fudging corners thinking the benefit they get outweighs the costs to others? Or that the benefit to them is worth the distributed cost to others? Don’t be ridiculous. You’d rather defend Joe in saying these milk producers consciously knew they were “poisoning” babies? You never heard of FDA guidelines that allow a permissible amount of poisons in food content? What they did wasn’t right, but they didn’t do it with any intent to poison babies. That’s the point. How is that BS?

          –I didn’t see any­thing emo­tive about it. I did see some sober analysis.

          I saw it as emotive because the sentence is foreboding, giving cause for alarm and concern of the future. Feel free to tell me how that sentence is sober analysis when it asserts that something is evident from something that is yet to happen. We all know what he’s saying, but its still a wonky sentence.

          –There is the biggest one.

          Are you going to explain why you think it is BS? Is my summation of his overall thrust incorrect? Or should I just quote random sentences you write and say that’s a “BS conclusion” for fun?

          That’s more then a ‘lit­tle pause’.

          Do you even know who I’m accusing of “dick moves”?

          I can’t even remem­ber what we argued about back on Chi­naS­MACK. It has noth­ing to do with that.

          Your attention to me has everything to do with our shared history of disagreement.

          I’m per­plexed as to how you can agree with Amon’s orig­i­nal asser­tion (Local offi­cials often pri­or­i­tize eco­nomic gain at the expense of pub­lic health) then attempt to mar­gin­al­ize and mis­char­ac­ter­ize the mate­r­ial that sup­ports that same asser­tion . An asser­tion you agreed with ear­lier. Astonishing.

          Because agreeing with one assertion does not give a pass to all other assertions. I can agree with one thing you say but not another. What don’t you understand about that? Are you even using “marginalize” correctly? Joe used the melamine scandal as an example of a larger phenomenon he’s writing about. However, I felt he mischaracterized some of the people involved in it. Why can’t I disagree with premises or examples he uses to support a larger idea that I agree with? I agree with many people that racism is bad, but I don’t need to agree with every example or every way they mischaracterize examples of racism. I can agree with the concept of democracy but pause over the inefficiencies of the civil institutions it depends on. I can agree with capitalism but pause over the fact that the world will never have the perfect information capitalism depends on to be perfectly fair.

          Goodness, Goodness. What is astonishing is your consternation that I can agree with one thing but not another. You’ve never agreed with someone’s overall point but taken issue with some aspect of how they delivered it?

          • Goodness

            Kai you wrote:

            oper­at­ing under the pre­sump­tion that what they were doing was indeed cheat­ing the cus­tomer but it “wasn’t going to really hurt them”

            -How could a manufacturer of baby formula throw melamine

            melamine — an industrial product more commonly used to make plastics.

            into the formula and not know it was going to hurt anybody?

            You’d rather defend Joe in say­ing these milk pro­duc­ers con­sciously knew they were “poi­son­ing” babies?

            -I reread Joe’s article in the Huffington post link. Where did he say that?

            Kai:

            I’m pretty cer­tain the vast major­ity of them were oper­at­ing under the pre­sump­tion that what they were doing was indeed cheat­ing the cus­tomer but it “wasn’t going to really hurt them

            -It seems your the one speculating on their mindset.

            Is my sum­ma­tion of his over­all thrust incor­rect?

            -That’s one way of putting it.

            That’s the second time you’ve brought up a history of disagreement that nobody but you seems to care about. Why are you always so defensive? How about we stick to the relevant article?

            Because agree­ing with one asser­tion does not give a pass to all other asser­tions.

            Joe only had ONE assertion. The one you agreed with. The rest were just supporting evidence. You didn’t even disagree directly with those. You just told us how we should read them. God forbid we make up out own minds.

            My consternation is with some people who can only read a thoughtful article on a serious problem through their fenqing colored glasses.

          • Goodness,

            -How could a manufacturer of baby formula throw melamine into the formula and not know it was going to hurt anybody?

            The same way regulatory agencies allow certain limits of any foreign substance in food, because at certain quantities and concentrations at normal consumption levels, it’s not going to produce notable health effects.

            You’re also mixing up who I’m referring to. I damn anyone who was arguably aware of there being unacceptable concentrations, such as Sanlu, who arguably intentionally packaged the most tainted milk powder for their lowest-priced product line. That was a key factor to their indictment.

            But one thing you’re forgetting is where all this milk is sourced from. This is why I specifically mention milk producers and the supply chain. You have a lot of peasant farmers involved here, many of whom are actually quite ignorant about the dangers of melamine in high concentrations, who mostly recognize melamine as something they can add to dilute the milk to squeeze out extra money without failing certain quality tests that measure for the protein content in the milk they’re delivering. Prior to this, they just used water. But melamine tricks the protein tests.

            So, not only are you overestimating their intelligence, you’re also overestimating their intent to harm, just like Joe. None of them set out to poison anyone. They set out to dilute what they were selling to get more money, but just like the fast food worker who reuses a bun they dropped on a floor, they’re thinking “oh, its not that bad, they’ll be fine.”

            There’s greed and there is negligence, criminal negligence, but there was generally no conscious desire or intent to “poison” anyone. Using such an active verb connotes malicious intent that is inaccurate and is unnecessarily vilification.

            I reread Joe’s article in the Huffington post link. Where did he say that

            From my copy of his article as reprinted verbatim in my above post: “That’s despite gov­ern­ment promises that lessons were learned in 2008, when pro­duc­ers of baby for­mula dis­cov­ered it was cheaper to poi­son infants than sell authen­tic for­mula. “

            -It seems your the one speculating on their mindset.

            It seems to be that Joe is, and his speculation is less likely than my speculation. I think greed is a more realistic speculation than intent to poison.

            -That’s one way of putting it.

            Please start explaining as opposed to repeating it.

            That’s the second time you’ve brought up a history of disagreement that nobody but you seems to care about. Why are you always so defensive? How about we stick to the relevant article?

            Right, I care about it. That’s why I bring it up. Our history of disagreement helps explain why we see things differently here. It suggests that we may never agree because we approach things differently. When you attack me, I’m going to play defense. You attacked me. How else do you expect me to respond? I’m totally sticking to the article. I keep explaining, you keep attacking. What more do you want me to do short of blindly agreeing with you when I don’t?

            Joe only had ONE assertion. The one you agreed with. The rest were just supporting evidence. You didn’t even disagree directly with those. You just told us how we should read them. God forbid we make up out own minds.

            I disagree. You can simplify and reduce his entire piece to one single assertion if you want, if it is convenient for you, but I don’t see it that way. I can agree with his assertions about corruption but not with intentional “poisoning”. I didn’t disagree with any evidence (also inherently “assertions”) I found nothing to disagree with. I disagreed with the assertions I did. Do you have any evidence to suggest that all these milk producers intended to poison infants or were they just being greedy and negligent?

            As for making up our own minds, you’re taking issue with me suggesting that they weren’t intentionally trying to “poison” babies and instead accepting Joe suggesting that they were? God forbid someone challenges how others are influencing how you make up your mind.

            I can’t believe you’re unwilling to admit ever reading an article and finding yourself agreeing with some elements but not other elements.

            My consternation is with some people who can only read a thoughtful article on a serious problem through their fenqing colored glasses.

            Ah, calling me “fenqing”. Want to call me brainwashed too? CCP apologist? How about a paid CCP propagandist?

            Sorry, by your logic, I can’t criticize any article for any faults so long as I agree with anything in it. I can’t agree to that.

          • Goodness

            Top of the morning to ya Kai.

            Kai

            The same way reg­u­la­tory agen­cies allow cer­tain lim­its of any for­eign sub­stance in food, because at cer­tain quan­ti­ties and con­cen­tra­tions at nor­mal con­sump­tion lev­els, it’s not going to pro­duce notable health effects.

            -I’ve heard strawberries have a high content of fertilizers and pesticides trapped in around the seeds. But strawberries come into contact with fertilizers and pesticides as a matter of course. You need them to help the strawberries grow and to keep the bugs away. So the regulators let them go knowing that most everyone will wash them before eating them.

            Melamine on the other hand has no business being anywhere near milk or baby formula. It has no nutritional value and its presence serves no purpose save one. It deceives the observer into believing that it is richer in protein then it really is. It’s toxicity is well documented.

            Your rebuttal is strange.

            So, not only are you over­es­ti­mat­ing their intel­li­gence, you’re also over­es­ti­mat­ing their intent to harm, just like Joe. None of them set out to poi­son any­one.

            -At no time did Joe nor I say that their intent was to harm babies. Joe wrote that their INTENT was to make money. He wrote that the EFFECT was the babies were poisoned. Two very different things. Why did you read it as one?

            It seems to be that Joe is, and his spec­u­la­tion is less likely than my spec­u­la­tion. I think greed is a more real­is­tic spec­u­la­tion than intent to poison.

            -Again he never ever said that their intent was to poison. He said that their intent was to make money.

            That’s despite gov­ern­ment promises that lessons were learned in 2008, when pro­duc­ers of baby for­mula dis­cov­ered it was cheaper to poi­son infants than sell authen­tic formula. ”

            -If those babies weren’t poison what where they?
            That word poison just spun you around.

            Poison:

            Main Entry: 1poi·son
            Pronunciation: \ˈpȯi-zən\
            Function: noun
            Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French poisun drink, potion, poison, from Latin potion-, potio drink — more at potion
            Date: 13th century

            1 a : a substance that through its chemical action usually kills, injures, or impairs an organism

            Poisoned

            Main Entry: 2poison
            Function: transitive verb
            Inflected Form(s): poi·soned; poi·son·ing
            Date: 14th century

            1 a : to injure or kill with poison b : to treat, taint, or impregnate with or as if with poison

            -The bold definition seems apt to me. No intent on the part of anyone at all, just effect.

            My con­ster­na­tion is with some peo­ple who can only read a thought­ful arti­cle on a seri­ous prob­lem through their fen­qing col­ored glasses.

            Ah, call­ing me “fen­qing”. Want to call me brain­washed too? CCP apol­o­gist? How about a paid CCP propagandist?

            -No, no and no. Pusan Playa calls you all of those things and I think Kedafu said that you have H1N1 (By the way get well soon).

            Compared to that, simply implying that you read a thought­ful arti­cle on a seri­ous prob­lem through fen­qing col­ored glasses seems mild. Sorry if it upset you.

            I know I’m not the ass kisser Jones is, but at least I don’t terrorize imaginary Vietnamese noncombatants from the comfort of my dorm room either.

          • Morning, Goodness (actually, its past noon now).

            -I’ve heard strawberries have a high content of fertilizers and pesticides trapped in around the seeds. But strawberries come into contact with fertilizers and pesticides as a matter of course. You need them to help the strawberries grow and to keep the bugs away. So the regulators let them go knowing that most everyone will wash them before eating them.

            Allowable concentrations of foreign substances are not limited to fertilizers and pesticides.

            Your rebuttal is strange.

            It’s not strange. It’s a simple fact. Go ahead and look it up. I also feel you’re missing the forest for the trees here. Ask yourself, why am I bringing this up? Go back and read where I bring this into the conversation. After what? Surrounded by what?

            Remember, the point here is the difference between intent to cheat and intent to harm. People who cheat don’t necessarily intend to harm. The reason they don’t think of themselves as intending to harm is because in their minds, they’ve rationalized the amount of harm they’re doing into being negligible or inconsequential. Indeed, if you only had one producer out of thousands who added dangerous concentrations of melamine to the milk he was selling up to the wholesaler, short of that wholesaler packaging that milk directly into individual consumer cartons and not combining that contaminated milk with other milk, the ultimate concentration of melamine would be so low as to be negligible with little adverse effects to any consumer’s health.

            It doesn’t make what he does right. It doesn’t absolve him of guilt. But whereas he’s guilty of cheating for extra margins, he wasn’t doing it intentionally to poison, seriously hurt, or kill people.

            -At no time did Joe nor I say that their intent was to harm babies. Joe wrote that their INTENT was to make money. He wrote that the EFFECT was the babies were poisoned. Two very different things. Why did you read it as one?

            I explain this in my original post. There’s a difference between active verbs and passive verbs. I note you’re using a passive verb here. That’s because you know there’s a difference. Joe used an active verb.

            Consider these two sentences:

            “The milk producers discovered it was cheaper to poison infants.”

            “The milk producers discovered it was cheaper to allow infants risk being poisoned.”

            -The bold definition seems apt to me. No intent on the part of anyone at all, just effect.

            You’re bolding the passive verb “poisoned”, not the active verb “poison” or “to poison”. You’re citing the noun when you know Joe is using it as a verb. Why?

            Next, someone simply being poisoned from something they consumed does not mean the person who provided that something had intent to poison. Do you think the people who made the Jack in the Crack that caused e.coli poisoning intended to poison? For them, it was negligence in hygiene and sanitation. For these milk producers, they intentionally contaminated their milk, but they were operating on the assumption that the concentration in the final end product wouldn’t be enough for anyone to really get hurt. This is why this scandal is about multiple points of failure, not a single one. Their actions contributed to disaster, but they were not intending disaster to happen.

            No, no and no.

            How can you say that when you just suggested I’m reading Joe’s article through “fenqing colored glasses”. If you’re not calling me fenqing, then what are you? “Mild”? What the hell does that mean? Come on, you’re being disingenuous here. At least own up to it. I don’t call people idiots and then deny it when confronted.

            What exactly about my position suggests any fenqing mentality? This may challenge you to really consider what exactly I’m saying. Why the rush to throw out the “fenqing” label? I just think Joe’s characterization of active intentional poisoning is inaccurate. I’d say the same thing is someone accused Wall St. bankers of not just being greedy but intending to hurt everyone that ended up suffering from their actions. There’s negligence and arguably criminal negligence here, but there’s no widespread intent to poison.

            If you don’t think Joe’s sentence construction suggests intent to poison or intent to profit specifically by knowingly poisoning people, fine. That’s just our disagreement in the reading and interpretation of his sentence. But there’s two parts to this. There’s how he worded (whether it was leading to an unsubstantiated characterization), and the line between when dilution/contamination becomes knowing poisoning. Again, focus on the verb as Joe is using the word “poison”. Not the noun. The noun is irrelevant to my disagreement with Joe’s writing.

            I know I’m not the ass kisser Jones is, but at least I don’t terrorize imaginary Vietnamese noncombatants from the comfort of my dorm room either.

            But he does so with such a innocent harmless doe-eyed look.

          • Jones

            “I know I’m not the ass kisser Jones is, but at least I don’t terrorize imaginary Vietnamese non combatants from the comfort of my dorm room either.”

            Ass kisser? Dorm Room? Imaginary Vietnamese?

            I’m not entirely sure why I was brought up here. Maybe I read over the part where I was mentioned by Kai in his previous post. I’m pretty tired, so that might be the case.

            However

            I wouldn’t call it “ass-kissing” just because I don’t get my lacy pink panties twisted into a wad just because Kai doesn’t agree with me on something. This shit is for entertainment.

          • Goodness

            I wouldn’t call it “ass-kissing” just because I don’t get my lacy pink panties twisted into a wad just because Kai doesn’t agree with me on some­thing. This shit is for entertainment.

            LOL!

          • Goodness

            No offense intended Jones, I just wanted to see if you read my drivel. By the way I’m going to give you a -1 for giving me too much information about your unmentionables.

          • Jones

            Haha it’s cool. I was afraid my response was going to come across as serious. I have kissed an ass or two before, but it was only in times when there was something available that I really wanted. Kai deals only in false hopes and broken dreams. He’ll butter you up with a cliche line about your eyes, but don’t be fooled, ladies. He’s poison.

          • Jones,

            Oh my god, you skanky slut whore! After all I’ve done for you, this is how you repay me?!

            *broken heart*

          • Jones

            You cut me, Kai. You cut me deep. Right to the core.

        • Jones

          …and before you comment, today they’re blue with white frills.

  7. Dan

    Right after I do a post extolling this blog, you leave me totally dumbfounded as to the point of this post. About all you have done here is put a microscope to an article and nitpick it to death, without any real reason for having done so. Serious question: Why did you spend so much time dissecting this one article?

    • 你有 H1N1
      人民有H1N1
      我们有H1N1
      有一个”五毛党” 有 H1N1!

      在哪 ?

      地球。。。

      for every click, for every 50c , my red heart beats!

      • friendo

        Thanks to America!

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ia4xsXnpIkg

        Woops… you’re never going to hear this from America’s mainstream media.

        • Jones

          Big deal, friendo. Swine flu is a virus that mutated, or evolved, and now affects humans. Melamine is a chemical that was placed by humans in an attempt to make more money. Quite a difference there. But then again, it’s Friendo I’m talking to. I don’t really expect you to use logic or reasoning in these comments you pull out of your ass in a nationalistic rage.

    • Ouch, Dan. To be fair, I clearly stated on the front page that I’ll be nitpicking.

      On the surface, the point of this post is just about sharing what came to my mind when I read Joe’s article. I simply lay out exactly what I agree with and what gave me pause. Underneath that is that I’m always curious about how different people process the same information. I share what I thought, and then I open it up for discussion, to see what other people are going to say, what they’re going to react to.

      I personally think the reactions I’ve gotten so far are pretty interesting. Some, like yourself, are confused as to what the hell this is about. Others, like Pusan Playa and Goodness above, are using it as another opportunity to tell everyone how much they dislike me.

      If nothing else, whatever my machinations, we all have our good days and our bad.

      • Goddness

        LOL! I like you just fine Kai. As a matter of fact I put you right at the top of my hug bucket. I already deferred to you on the subject of Little Emperor syndrome. Your just picking on me because you don’t like me. : – (

        • I don’t feel the love, man.

          BTW, during our epic comment battle on chinaSMACK, I had said that I was surprised by your position because I remembered usually agreeing with you. I’m afraid to inform you that I was epically mistaken about that memory. I was confusing you with Quinon or Yin, something I realized when I found myself reading your later comments (beyond that debate) and shaking my head.

          I’m telling you this to return the personal attention you’re giving me, in hopes it will cause a debilitating loss of self-confidence in you. What? I’m serious.

          I also want to point out how both you and Pusan Playa reacted the same way when confronted with the suggestion that you guys dislike me. Both of you feel compelled to deny it. PP makes some half-serious joke about admiring me, but only as one would admire a “great” but still “evil” person. Whoa, right? You, well, you ostensibly put me on top of your hug bucket.

          Guys, there is an absurd abundance of evidence that we have strong disagreements in what we believe and how we argue/defend what we believe. What’s the harm in not liking each other? I don’t like either of you. I admit I find PP amusing at times, but that doesn’t mean I like him. I don’t feel compelled to hide my dislike of him. Is this some sort of political correctness? Do you guys fear giving me some sort of power over you if you admit to disliking me? You do understand that simply commenting as you guys do already demonstrates the truth, right?

          I’m just teasing you guys.

          • Goodness

            I also want to point out how both you and Pusan Playa reacted the same way when con­fronted with the sug­ges­tion that you guys dis­like me. Both of you feel com­pelled to deny it.

            -Did I actually deny it? What was the historical context of my explicit denial. Why isn’t it safe to swim there anymore?

            Do you guys fear giv­ing me some sort of power over you if you admit to dis­lik­ing me?

            -OMG! That’s a dick move Mr. Pan!

            You do under­stand that sim­ply com­ment­ing as you guys do already demon­strates the truth, right?

            -ZOWY! Dick move + infinite Mr. Pan!

            I’m just teas­ing you guys.

            -Great Caesars ghost! I was getting worried there. Your know what? That is just waay too much dick movement for a thread about vaccines. Good Day!

          • I’ve gotten the Johnny Walker Black out of my system so I’ll be straight with you Kai

            #1: I argue with my friends about politics and stuff all the time and we get along just fine, I would be upset if you stopped blogging and commentating on Chinasmack.

            #2: I do in fact suspect that you’re a paid CPC propagandist. This is because like I said before, paying expat bloggers to write things broadly supportive of the CPC regime is exactly the sort of thing I’d do if I was in charge of their English language external propaganda.

            #3: I do in fact want to write for this website and you still haven’t given me a good reason why you won’t let me.

          • Jones

            “You don’t like me, do you?”
            “Yes, I do! It’s you that does not like me!”
            “Hey, you’re just saying that because you don’t like me but don’t want to admit it.”
            “Whatever. You’re being ridiculous. I do like you!”
            “Liar! You dislike me and you know it!”
            “I’m drunk and I fucking hate everyone.”
            “I appreciate your opinion, but I believe I informed you that I know you didn’t like me on this other post.”
            “It’s you that dislikes me.”
            “Ok, I’m not drunk anymore. But I still don’t like you.”

          • Goodness,

            Have a good weekend, buddy.

            Pusan Playa,

            #1: I argue with my friends about pol­i­tics and stuff all the time and we get along just fine, I would be upset if you stopped blog­ging and com­men­tat­ing on Chinasmack.

            I’m flattered by the emotions my choice to blog or commentate on chinaSMACK would arouse in you.

            #2: I do in fact sus­pect that you’re a paid CPC pro­pa­gan­dist. This is because like I said before, pay­ing expat blog­gers to write things broadly sup­port­ive of the CPC regime is exactly the sort of thing I’d do if I was in charge of their Eng­lish lan­guage exter­nal propaganda.

            I’m afraid your suspicions are founded upon something I don’t have the power to change. I don’t agree with your penchant for ascribing another individual’s interest in critically examining things to be evidence of them being paid propagandists. As I said, this is how many fenqing operate. Criticism of what they defend is interpreted and smeared as being borne of ulterior motives funded by foreign powers. Am I supposed to suspect that you make your comments because you’re paid to do so? Am I supposed to assume that because I should assume that’s what a foreign power would do so long as they’re interested in marginalizing and vilifying a target enemy?

            I don’t agree with you assuming and smearing anyone who doesn’t echo your ignorance and bigotry to be CCP paid propagandists. That’s not intellectual debate. That’s, again, intellectual dishonesty.

            #3: I do in fact want to write for this web­site and you still haven’t given me a good rea­son why you won’t let me.

            You haven’t given me a good reason to let you, much less invite you to. Moreover, you have our contact method. Why are you wasting your time fabricating some lame drama about there being a “personal” reason I won’t let you contribute when you’ve never previously expressed an interest either on here or through e-mail?

          • Come now, Jones, you know you enjoy this as much as we do. ;) You’re one of us, buddy, even with the new doe-eyed look.

          • Jones

            I couldn’t help but jump into the thick of the Kai-Goodness-PP mess, but I didn’t really know what to say. But you’re right, I do enjoy it haha

          • Jones,

            Goodness is just a tagalong but if you work at it, maybe next year you can join PP and I on the top of the chinaSMACK readers poll for most hated commentators. :)

          • Jones

            I’m getting back into my groove there. Got randomly called a troll a week ago. Felt like old times :)

          • Really? I don’t recall you regularly or historically being labeled a troll on chinaSMACK. PP, yes, but not you. While you and I have had our disagreements, often on how we argue, I never felt you were intentionally throwing out comments to annoy/provoke/troll people.

          • Jones

            Well, not flat out CALLED a troll, but some people took to me like that. I got put on “waiting for moderation” phase two or three times seemingly for it, though.

  8. Bai Ren

    Chillin and illin w/ KEDAFU @ now
    And they came to my house
    put a tempreture gun to my head
    and took my tempreture
    I just sneezed in the forum
    a phone call was made
    immediately to the PSB
    YOU HAVE H1N1!!!

    @kai
    I agree the real arguement is the so what if Public officials’ job is to protect the economy and not health…
    But this too, in its way avoids another debate… the speed of economic political changes in the context of social eviroment. Can the people change along with the change?
    YES of course they can, systems can change without testing or overtly flexing morality, and china’s ‘development to modernity’ doesnt really have the importance of humanity development that hegel and others gave to individual realization alongside historic changes.
    However I doupt if the corruption of good for economic development over that of public health has been official institutionalized. Rather, like you argued for the subcontractors in the production chain of the dainted milk, they have given personal credence to decisions which they dont relate to harming others as such for personal gain
    Furthermore instead of dick move, give me some reasoned argument, do you have counterveneing evidence? does the other author lack any evidence to make such an agrument?
    Like Wang Xiao Dong said, China is unhappy, but more so at its midlevel beurocrats who are seen as dirty as lobbists in the west (But just as useful and needed no?) than at global forces and humiliation.

    • real time
      real propaganda,

      this is $ U

      the “new” song of the article, which “Kowtows” to the article is “St. James Infirmary”

      the 白人 has H1N1

      • King Tubby

        While the heavy weights nurse old animosities and slug themselves comotose.
        Go for Bobby Bland’s version of St J…..the most under-rated yet subline vocalist in the Great Black American Pantheon. No contest. Leaves Otis and JB in the shade.

    • bai ren,

      I’m not aiming to avoid another debate with that question. I’m also not just challenging the premise Joe is operating on, that public officials’ priority should be public health, but challenging people to ask more questions instead of settling for answers. I sometimes feel we settle for answers because it gives us closure, allows us to feel content with having established a position for ourselves.

      “Yeah, government officials should not be corrupt!”

      “Okay, and?”

      Joe’s piece let’s people nod their head and feel they’re solidly behind something. They’re not behind anything at all. They’re only behind their self-identity of being angry or in opposition to something.

      I acknowledge that, practically speaking, simple awareness is an end unto itself that operates on the assumption that enough awareness eventually spills over into serious investigation and potential action.

      Fur­ther­more instead of dick move, give me some rea­soned argu­ment, do you have coun­ter­vene­ing evi­dence? does the other author lack any evi­dence to make such an agru­ment?

      If I’m reading you correctly, I meant that what the government officials did were dick moves. I wasn’t saying Joe’s recounting was a dick move.

      Regarding evidence, while drafting this post this afternoon, I did contemplate making an aside about providing links but I decided not to pursue that route since he may be of the dead-tree school of writing. I would’ve liked him linking to each detail he was invoking, so his readers could get more information.

      • Kai
        Wasn’t saying you were intentionally avoiding a debate, but that in the manner you critiqued Joe’s article, you did not include a major theme amongst Chinese citizens in discussing the issue of political corruption. I do not ask you to be THAT comprehensive.

        Thats what posters are for, to add more flavour, context and, what was it you said.. “ask more questions instead of settling for answers”. I gave more answers than I really brought up questions I suppose, but hey the public sphere is all about the promotion of self, exploration or affirmation.

        Totally misunderstood the dick move part.

        As for your intention of sparking debate, for people to be critical instead of accepting on a forum like this against a commentator published on the Huffington, aren’t you preaching to the converted? A little like masturbation. Being a publisher on this site I thank you for the amount of content you churn out, but instead of doing an article like this why not go for a source more acceptable to this audience. That might spark more questions than reaffirm popular quesitons

        • bai ren,

          Yeah, I do think there’s a good amount of masturbation and preaching to the choir/converted here, though I do point out the people who often disagree (both vocally and viciously so) with the points I bring up or highlight.

          As you can imagine, there’s no single goal shared by every piece published here, even amongst my own posts. Sometimes its about sparking debate or questions for both sides to go at it. Other times, it’s also about getting the converted to think about how they’d go about defending or advancing their positions.

          To further your analogy, I know there’s plenty of people here who share my “faith”, but I’m interested in everyone further developing their “apologetics”. I never liked the people I met who had really strong opinions but could never really articulate the reasons behind them.

          • Habermass,

            nice

            very nice,

            always keeping it real,

            always keeping it red,

            you know know the rest

          • Sup,
            hey you are producing a lot more than the rest of us consumer-commenters. Writing here I feel like a taobao customer writing my experience of the product.

            Its civil society, keep being public.
            I’m glad it doesnt even cost me 50 cents ;)

  9. Fransisco

    “Regard less, there’s a dif fer ence between neg li gence and intent. The milk pro­duc ers dis cov ered it was cheaper to “dilute” their prod uct than sell pure prod­uct. They didn’t dis cover it was cheaper to “poi son” babies. We can argue that some of these peo ple should’ve known bet ter and we can damn those who did but let’s not get ahead of our selves. It isn’t as if none of us haven’t done sim i­lar things before, mak ing com pro mises in the face of cer tain real i ties, mis judg­ing the amount we can “get away with” and how much oth ers can tol er ate our indiscretions.”

    I am confused by how you are differentiating between negligence and intent. negligence generally implies careless but intent implies you intend a certain course of action. Thats all. If you are saying their intentions were not wrong, that still means they intended to do something. There still is intent in their actions.

    And to be fair, mainstream media would probably have imputed such bad intentions even an american company intentionally did the same thing in the US. I mean – look at how the public is skewering Wall Street right now.

    • Fransisco,

      Right, I guess I could be more clear about what I was referring to. Clearly, any part of the supply chain that added melamine to the milk had the intent to squeeze extra money out of the process. My point is that they had no intent to really hurt people, that they didn’t think people would suffer serious harm or death from their actions. They likely knew the melamine wasn’t helping the end-user, but they operated on the whole assumption that “its just a little bit, they’ll be fine overall”. Negligence is them operating on that assumption.

      I didn’t make any comments comparing Joe to mainstream media, on whether one or the other would’ve put things differently. As far as I’m concerned, I just felt the “poison children” line was ascribing intent that wasn’t really there. The producers were playing with fire, but they didn’t intent to burn anyone to ashes. Unfortunately, they did, and they’re guilty of playing with fire, but not with first degree murder.

      • Ted

        “My point is that they had no intent to really hurt peo­ple, that they didn’t think peo­ple would suf­fer seri­ous harm or death from their actions.”

        That’s outrageous… out of the thousands of employees at all of the companies using melamine there wasn’t one who know that melamine could have adverse effects on the end-user? If one person knew then the company knew, at that point it is a case of harming your customer in order to make a profit. Kai I have to say that I’m floored your are pursuing this line of reasoning.

        The most amusing bit of that episode for me was when I had a two-student class, a male student who worked for one of the companies involved in the milk scandal and a female student who was a biochemist and the mother of a 4-year-old. Unfortunately for the male student the main exercise for the class was introduce your company. As soon as he said I work for *** the mother started asking questions. His response… he started writing out acceptable melamine ingestion levels for the average person. The operable word here is “average”. This means that even this low-level employee knew that some people would be adversely affected by their product. The mom and I were slack-jawed and I moved the discussion on to prevent a brawl.

        • Ted,

          Let’s try this: What line of reasoning am I pursuing exactly? That the milk producers, while greedy, weren’t out to poison people?

          That someone driving fast, or street racing, wasn’t out to run someone over?

          Guys, please consider where my argument begins and ends.

          out of the thousands of employees at all of the companies using melamine there wasn’t one who know that melamine could have adverse effects on the end-user?

          Where am I arguing that not a single one of the people in the entire supply chain didn’t think there was a risk? Didn’t I explicitly say I damn those who knew? Come on, you’re not being fair to what I’ve explicitly put forth.

          Look, go back and review the entire scandal. Remember that this is not a centralized supply chain and that there are thousands of milk producers of varying sizes from various places. It wasn’t as if there was one single person who added melamine and we can all point to him. Also, don’t forget what melamine is. Melamine is added precisely to trick the protein quantity checks, checks on whether or not the milk wholesalers are buying from producers has the same protein composition as, well, milk. We can argue that they should’ve tested specifically for melamine, that they should’ve known how it is used in the industry, but you’re forgetting that this is a decentralized game of cat and mouse too. Milk producers sell their milk to the milk wholesale companies who then sell it to the retail companies. That safety was compromised along so many points is a testament to the greed and corruption in the industry and regulatory system. While greed and corruption can result in deaths, it doesn’t mean greed and corruption is equivalent to intent to harm.

          I’m drawing a distinction on that line. This is what courts would ask when considering judgments. I don’t agree with Joe (or some of you guys) being so eager to suggest malicious poisoning for profit, that the milk producers were somehow more than happy to kill babies for a few extra kuai. That’s a grotesque way of looking at people. Do you really think all these people were out to poison babies?

          If one person knew then the company knew, at that point it is a case of harming your customer in order to make a profit.

          Where am I saying nobody didn’t know? I argued that most people didn’t think the risk and harm would be that serious. There’s a difference.

          As soon as he said I work for *** the mother started asking questions. His response… he started writing out acceptable melamine ingestion levels for the average person. The operable word here is “average”. This means that even this low-level employee knew that some people would be adversely affected by their product.

          You should ask if he knew all that stuff BEFORE the scandal made it imperative for him to learn about it to protect his employment. I understand how easy it is to be angry about the scandal, that any “defense” or “explanation” is going to sound insensitive. But that’s emotions talking. Think calmly for a second and ask yourself if regulatory limits on melamine content itself is unreasonable AND if it is reasonable for this low-level employee to have any idea of how much melamine is coming from which suppliers and is becoming overconcentrated in which batches of product. He likely doesn’t know. Now, I wasn’t there to know exactly how this conversation unfolded but I wouldn’t be surprised if an employee for X was put on the spot and he felt obligated or defensive to try explaining how this wasn’t as if he knowingly tried poisoning babies. Again, I don’t know, but if he was a dick and said something along the lines of “well, its your fault for buying our milk”, then sure, go ahead and brawl, but I don’t have enough information from you to judge whether or not you were being fair to him.

          The problem here was corruption that compromised safety checks. We can say the problem is incentives to cheat. I don’t think its fair to say or suggest the problem was because people discovered it was more profitable to “poison” babies. Would you accuse McDonald’s of discovering it was more profitable to “poison” its customers by allowing trace amounts of any which carcinogen that is legally allowed by the FDA? That they refused to spend more money to ensure completely 100% pure product? You do remember that 100% pure according to the FDA is not actually 100% pure, right?

          Again, please be sure you know exactly what I am taking issue with.

          • Ted

            If you want to make a comparison then use the Tobacco industry. What I know from the coverage is that the use of melamine was an open secret in the industry. Bottom line, people up and down the supply chain were out to make money and they did it by poisoning people. Can someone legally prove that they were out to kill people? No, it’s just what they were doing.

            The govt can delete/censor as much negative press as it wants but the Chinese medical industry will have to earn a reputation for safety. That won’t come without a truck load of public scrutiny and some embarrassment. Every time a scandal is swept under the rug it sets the industry back to square one with the public, both in China and abroad.

            Finally, the employee wasn’t put on the spot, the mom / scientist just asked if the milk was safe for adults to drink. He voluntarily stuck his head in the pooper. My point is that you and the guy in my class are dissecting and deflecting deserved criticism. Amos’ article should have been written and based on my experience with China’s Medical industry I hope he and others keep writing.

          • Ted,

            The Tobacco industry analogy is okay but not really accurate either. To be more equivalent, you’d need tobacco growers substituting tobacco for something that passes for tobacco in some kind of quality test, with that something being dangerous in of itself when smoked in high concentrations in cigarettes.

            Whereas cigarettes themselves are arguably dangerous by themselves, powdered baby formula is not. There needs to be a dilution element. Furthermore, if we want to get philosophical, the Tobacco industry does not have the intent to harm, it has the intent to facilitate what is arguably self-destructive. That’s, like it or not, kinda like euthanasia. As you can see, there’s a lot of bogeys here too.

            As an aside, the issue with Big Tobacco is whether they try to make smoking more addictive. With the melamine issue, it was about diluting. Both results in some economic benefit. But both also isn’t intent to harm.

            The govt can delete/censor as much negative press as it wants but the Chinese medical industry will have to earn a reputation for safety. That won’t come without a truck load of public scrutiny and some embarrassment. Every time a scandal is swept under the rug it sets the industry back to square one with the public, both in China and abroad.

            I agree. You know I agree on this point. You know I’m not making any arguments in disagreement with this.

            Finally, the employee wasn’t put on the spot, the mom / scientist just asked if the milk was safe for adults to drink. He voluntarily stuck his head in the pooper. My point is that you and the guy in my class are dissecting and deflecting deserved criticism. Amos’ article should have been written and based on my experience with China’s Medical industry I hope he and others keep writing.

            I can never know what exactly happened with your conversation. Voluntarily sticking ones head in the pooper doesn’t really shed much light on what happened. I don’t agree that criticism must be taken all or nothing. It’s just not my training or my personal philosophy. I think what is deserved is deserved and what isn’t, isn’t. I don’t agree that taking issue with a criticism that goes too far is dissecting or deflecting criticism, nor is defending against what is perceived as unfair and unwarranted. I don’t think Amos article shouldn’t have been written. Did you think I was saying that? I was simply saying he didn’t need to insinuate that the milk producers intentionally set out to poison people. I wouldn’t have had a problem if he said they “discovered it was cheaper to risk infants being poisoned than providing pure formula.”

            Again, I acknowledge that can be seen as nitpicking, but I think how the phrase was written connotes a lot of moral judgments that lead people to forget the more important context they should be considering if they want to improve this situation in this industry and in this country.

      • Jones

        “Out of sight, out of mind” doesn’t absolve someone from intentionally harming someone. Melamine harms people, it was being put in milk and whatnot. Milk is consumed by people. Therefore, their product will harm people. They knew this. If not, then I applaud these milk companies for hiring the mentally retarded all the way up to management (and possibly beyond) as this is a very progressive idea and helps those in need.

        • Jones, no one is saying “out of sight, out of mind.” In courts, we’d examine how aware each participant was of the potential harm their actions were could cause before determining intent. It is clear they intended to cheat, to dilute for profit, but is it so clear that they intended to poison, intended to harm, intended to kill babies? I don’t think so. Again, I’m talking about most of the people involved in putting melamine into the milk they were supplying. Insofar as there was someone, some quality control guy or whatever, who knew full well that they were putting dangerous amounts of melamine into specific products for sale, damn them for all I care. But you can’t simply ascribe intent to poison just because someone was poisoned. This is not how scientific or legal investigations of culpability or negligence are carried out.

          • Jones

            The “out of sight, out of mind” thing would actually go along with a person not intending to kill babies, but putting out a potentially harmful product without thinking about the repercussions of someone ingesting such a thing. I’m not so much really blaming the wage-slaves on the production floor, but someone was benefiting from this extra profit. Someone had to sit with someone else and ask “how can we make more money from the same product without raising the prices?” Someone had to suggest adding more Melamine because it has the ability to pass the safety checks or is undetectable (if I remember that correctly). Somewhere there was someone with this idea to add this chemical and knew the dangers in it. Yet they went ahead. It’s like, you know this bullet is going to kill or injure someone really badly, but fuck it, let’s just fire it into the crowd anyway. It’s not like it was actually my intention to hit that one specific person, or anyone. It was just my intention to get rid of this bullet to lighten the load on my belt.

          • Jones, I think the phrase “out of sight, out of mind” is usually used to suggest that you won’t obsess over something if you don’t look at it or divert your attention. It kinda works for this situation but not really, right? It’s a bit of a stretch. It’s not as if these people were obsessing over the consequences of the melamine they added to their diluted milk and simply turned on their TV to stop thinking about it. They added it in and called it a day.

            So the question is what mentality is this “calling it a day”?

            Joe is saying they discovered it was cheaper to poison babies. I’m saying, not exactly, they discovered it was more profitable to sell milk diluted with water mixed with melamine to still meet protein quality/safety tests.

            Did these people know melamine is potentially harmful? I think so. But you have to question under what circumstances they believed it could be harmful. I’m pretty sure most of them will say, yeah, if you’re spooning this stuff directly into your mouth, you’re going to die. I’m pretty sure most of them will say, yeah, if you’re drinking high concentrations of this stuff day after day, you’re going to die.

            But did they think this was how it would be consumed? No. They thought that after all of the wholesaling, processing, and testing, the end user would be subject to so little that it would be a wash, that there would be no significant problems. They’d make a bit of extra cash and no one would “really get hurt”. Little did they know that when you have enough people doing this, and enough oversights or points of compromised safety (due to corruption or incompetence), that the chances of disaster due to all of this compounded would become much more real.

            Yeah, it looks stupid with in hindsight, but only if you refuse to put yourself in each players shoes in chronological order. Again, its like accusing a speeder of intentionally murdering people after he accidentally runs someone over. He was engaging in arguably illegal, unethical, immoral behavior and he misjudged the risks. What we have here is a lot a lot a lot of people all speeding around a nursery school and, figuratively, they all sped into a bunch of babies.

            They didn’t intend to hurt the babies, they just thought their own individual part wasn’t significant. Its not accurate or rational to try adding intent to harm. You guys need to separate intent to cheat or profit from intent to harm.

            I’m not so much really blaming the wage-slaves on the production floor, but someone was benefiting from this extra profit.

            If you’re really interested, I really think you should go back and do more research on just what happened. This was only like 2 years ago. I remember reading all of the news reports. The Western media was a bit slower to pick up on it (hell, chinaSMACK was one of the first English sites to break the news) but there was a lot of stuff on this. The way you’re describing wage-slaves and “someone had to be benefiting from this extra profit” makes me think you’re not totally clear on how this wasn’t a problem in a single factory or company. This is an industry problem that involves multiple levels and points in the entire supply chain.

            Was someone making extra profit? Yes, but who, where, how much? Simply making extra profit doesn’t mean its justified to misrepresent them as having the intent to harm except in the loosest legally and rhetorically meaningless definition of “harm”.

            Someone had to sit with someone else and ask “how can we make more money from the same product without raising the prices?”

            As above, I don’t think you’re familiar enough with what happened. This wasn’t a top-down decision by some executive to add melamine to pad the company’s profit margins. This was more case of suppliers supplying melamine tainted milk to companies who failed to test for specifically for melamine, and where regulatory agencies also failed to do so. That’s the element of corruption, that if anyone in the companies and regulatory agencies knew, they turned a blind eye. If they didn’t know, they were incompetent. Either way, it wasn’t because they intended to harm babies, it was because they felt the harm or risk was negligible relative to their profit or convenience. Misjudging risk is not intent to harm. It’s negligence.

            Someone had to suggest adding more Melamine because it has the ability to pass the safety checks or is undetectable (if I remember that correctly).

            Again, try not to mistake thinking this was a top-down decision or suggestion. It’s more bottom-up than top-down. The practice of diluting your product is unfortunately common amongst suppliers who feel they need to do this to get by. They want to feed their families too. They want to make more too. Think of Sanlu like Walmart. They’re large enough to put downward pricing pressure and suppliers often either have to accept it or lose Sanlu as a customer. The harder Sanlu presses, the cheaper they want the price to be, the harder it is for the supplier who must figure out a way to still make their living. Unfortunately, too many of them choose to dilute. But they can’t just dilute because Sanlu tests for protein content, so they figure out how they can dilute but still pass the tests. That’s the game of cat and mouse. Something gives. That’s how a lot of product quality and safety scandals come about. A corner was cut somewhere and under the right circumstances, it all comes falling down.

            But was the corner cut intentionally to hurt people? No.

            It’s like, you know this bullet is going to kill or injure someone really badly, but fuck it, let’s just fire it into the crowd anyway. It’s not like it was actually my intention to hit that one specific person, or anyone. It was just my intention to get rid of this bullet to lighten the load on my belt.

            I know none of our analogies are perfect but I do think this is less accurate than ones I’ve already given. See above.

  10. Ted

    Agree. This is a set of issues that warrants all the criticism offered in the Amon article. I posted up in a Chinese hospital when Dr. approve-all was head of the Chinese version of the FDA, found out six months later that I was prescribed the Chinese version of a Roche anti-inflammatory that killed 16 people.

    • Ted

      oops meant I “agree” with King Tubby’s first comment.

    • Jones

      I had a severe upper respiratory infection two weeks after I arrived, and after a hospital visit and two broken ribs (from extreme coughing) later, all I got was 100% pure snake bile. Seriously. The bottle said, in English, 100% pure snake bile.

        • King Tubby

          Jones & Kai. Serious orientation issues here, guys. Talk to your partners before leaping into the unknown.
          Ann Landers.

        • Jones

          It may have if I had kept drinking it. Every time I would fill up a spoon with that thick, brown liquid, I couldn’t get the thought of snakes out of my mind. Not that I have a fear of snakes or find them disgusting. It’s just that I would think about catching one, slicing its stomach open, and drinking whatever I found inside.

          I actually ended up going to a military hospital later. The doctor was pretty cool and spoke just enough English/international sign language to get by/talk about his obsession with jazz music. He gave me a shot of some sort. An hour and several US state secrets later, the shot wore off and he gave me some pills that did the trick after a week. Coughed up seriously a baseball sized wad of phloem. Just like that, it was all gone.

  11. friendo

    All this said I’m surprised I’m on probation for posts when ultra-racists like stuart, nanhe and PeePee are free to post whatever crap they want without a delay.

  12. Ted

    “Joe is say­ing they dis­cov­ered it was cheaper to poi­son babies. I’m say­ing, not exactly, they dis­cov­ered it was more prof­itable to sell milk diluted with water mixed with melamine to still meet pro­tein quality/safety tests.”

    Yea, and China’s former drug regulator found it was more profitable to approve new medicines in return for bribes rather than following protocol. Think of all the lives he saved by getting the functional medicines to the market more quickly. He wasn’t trying to kill anyone, what good would it have done him? I’m certain he was assured that the products had been tested and were safe…. Please, Kai you are off the deep end on this one. I’m sure there were plenty of Chinese articles on the topic that were harsher and less rational than this one, why did you select Amon’s?

    • Ted, you’re now completely misrepresenting my point of contention.

      Why did I select Amon’s? Because my selection process here has nothing to do about the harshness or rationality of articles on this topic. What made you think there was? Are you sure you’re not making erroneous presumptions about my reasons for making this post? Did you read the description to this post on the front page? Did you read my responses to Dan or any of the other commenters on this thread?

      Come on, man. You’re now beating a straw man. The things you’re projecting onto me are explicitly contradicted by the words in my post. Take a breath and please review this post. I’m taking issue with how Joe phrased something. You’re now, ironically, off the deep end railing against me as if I’m defending and justifying corruption. That isn’t the case. Re-read. And no, I don’t think he should be given a pass on one thing just because I agree with much of the other things he says.

      • Ted

        I appreciate your comments but I’ve read the post and the original article. Based on this section of your post my previous comments still stand.

        “Regard­less, there’s a dif­fer­ence between neg­li­gence and intent. The milk pro­duc­ers dis­cov­ered it was cheaper to “dilute” their prod­uct than sell pure prod­uct. They didn’t dis­cover it was cheaper to “poi­son” babies. We can argue that some of these peo­ple should’ve known bet­ter and we can damn those who did but let’s not get ahead of our­selves. It isn’t as if none of us haven’t done sim­i­lar things before, mak­ing com­pro­mises in the face of cer­tain real­i­ties, mis­judg­ing the amount we can “get away with” and how much oth­ers can tol­er­ate our indiscretions.”

        We are looking at the above paragraph from two totally different perspectives, and mine is squarely aligned with Amon’s. It’s not crazy emotion that’s driving my comments and I don’t need a breather. I have no problem with nitpicking, but I think you could have chosen a better article to take apart. Guess we’ll just have to disagree.

        • Ted,

          We are looking at the above paragraph from two totally different perspectives, and mine is squarely aligned with Amon’s.

          You quoted my paragraph but I’m unclear as to whether you are referring to my paragraph or the Amon’s paragraph that I was responding to in my post.

          If it is my paragraph, I think it would be important to consider my paragraph from MY perspective. Furthermore, given that Amon has not responded to my paragraph, I don’t see how you can claim your perspective on my paragraph is “squarely aligned” with his.

          Now, if it is of HIS paragraph and you’re just quoting my paragraph as MY reaction to HIS paragraph, then you’re simply saying you agree with what he says and disagree with my nitpicking objection of it. I don’t mind you disagreeing with nitpicking (though you don’t), but I do still hope you can understand and acknowledge my objection (which I take you still don’t).

          The reason I suggested a breather was because I felt your comments were straying from what the real point in contention is, and that you were projecting onto me sentiments I don’t have and are explicitly contradicted by my earlier comments.

          You say again that you simply feel I could’ve chosen a better article to take apart. Again, I respond that I wasn’t out to “take apart” anything. I didn’t sit down and say, “what’s the lousiest article I can criticize today?” That’s you projecting some sort of goal onto me to criticize my decision-making process.

          But what if I wasn’t out to do that? What if I’m just — as my post description clearly says on the front page — just musing, sharing, reacting to something I read? I wasn’t on a mission to make an example of anything (unlike some older posts), I just felt like sharing some thoughts. Hell, part of me thought people would appreciate me very clearly acknowledging the things I agree with that are critical of China. I think part of our disagreement here is because you think I was trying to do something specific that I wasn’t.

          Given my history and reputation, I don’t necessarily blame you, but its still proper to clarify and hope you acknowledge this difference between what you expected or assumed I was doing versus what I was actually doing. In many other posts I make a larger point about media bias and use an article to help make that point. I make no such point here and I wasn’t using Joe Amon to make such a point. I was literally just sharing my mental response to my reading of his article. The goal in the former is to prove a thesis by invoking evidence. The goal in the latter is to just share reactions. Do you see the difference?

          Again, I don’t blame people for expecting the former from me. I just thought I had made it abundantly clear already and am confused why people keep judging me for something I wasn’t doing.

          Appreciate your comments, especially the civility maintained throughout. Cheers.

          • Ted

            Hey Kai,

            This comment summarizes my point.

            “Now, if it is of HIS para­graph and you’re just quot­ing my para­graph as MY reac­tion to HIS para­graph, then you’re sim­ply say­ing you agree with what he says and dis­agree with my nit­pick­ing objec­tion of it. I don’t mind you dis­agree­ing with nit­pick­ing (though you don’t), but I do still hope you can under­stand and acknowl­edge my objec­tion (which I take you still don’t).”

            I can understand and acknowledge your objection but I can’t agree with it. I think Amon’s perspective that people found it easier to kill babies for a short term profit can be argued just as easily as your own contention. A calculated assessment that doing something will not harm most people demonstrates that one knows they will be harming someone. I just can’t budge from that point. And because we are talking about the manufacture of baby formula I thought it was a little flippant to say “It isn’t as if none of us haven’t done sim­i­lar things before, mak­ing com­pro­mises in the face of cer­tain real­i­ties, mis­judg­ing the amount we can “get away with””. At the same time I think that is just your writing style.

            Admittedly I did react to your post in part because of the general theme of western media bias I see in many of your posts and will step back before joining the pile on next time. Interestingly I agree with your post for the most part, it is just that one sticking point that made me react, pretty similar to your assessment Amon’s article. e.g. my comment about us coming at an issue from two perspectives.

            Enjoyed the read and enjoy y’alls site.

          • Ted,

            I think Amon’s perspective that people found it easier to kill babies for a short term profit can be argued just as easily as your own contention.

            I of course disagree with this and don’t see anyone showing me how just as easily it can be argued.

            A calculated assessment that doing something will not harm most people demonstrates that one knows they will be harming someone. I just can’t budge from that point.

            That’s not the calculated assessment I’m arguing the vast majority of them made. It’s not “oh, some will be harmed but most won’t.” It’s “its unlikely that anyone will get harmed by the amounts I think the end users will be subject to.” There’s a very qualitative difference there. The “harm” they consciously knew was that people were being cheated out of the amount of milk they were actually getting, but like I said before, that’s a very loose and legally and rhetorically meaningless looseness. Moreover, knowing that there is a risk for harm doesn’t equate to intent to harm, which Joe’s use of the active verb “poison” connotes.

            And because we are talking about the manufacture of baby formula I thought it was a little flippant to say “It isn’t as if none of us haven’t done sim­i­lar things before, mak­ing com­pro­mises in the face of cer­tain real­i­ties, mis­judg­ing the amount we can “get away with””. At the same time I think that is just your writing style.

            Heh, not sure how it is flippant but I can write casually at times. Always feel free to demand that I be more precise as I ask of others at times.

            I don’t see how milk producers are very different from you or I when it comes to whether or not we fudge things or take risks based upon rationalized assumptions. You do understand that the milking industry in China isn’t exactly like that in most developed Western countries, right? Unlike many developed Western countries, agriculture and the production of many basic agricultural products are not completely taken over by centralized mega-conglomerates. There’s literally thousands of independent milk producers with different operations and and far less regulatory oversight or strictness. You need to appreciate how the decentralization of the entire supply chain affects how applicable any suggestion of intent to harm is.

            Interestingly I agree with your post for the most part, it is just that one sticking point that made me react, pretty similar to your assessment Amon’s article.

            Exactly. :) Peace.