Saturday, September 27, 2008

Made in China, Stay in China

Got milk? If you do, pray that it’s not from China. The Olympics are over, and its back to business in China’s manufacturing industry with the latest toxic milk scandal, which has killed four infants and poisoned around 54,000 Chinese, mostly children under the age of two. Twenty-two different dairy producers in China, Sanlu Group Co. being the biggest of them were found to have sold melamine laced dairy products to consumers. In Taiwan, 6.1 metric tons of imported poisonous milk powder has been removed from shelves, while in China over 7,000 metric tons of dairy products have been pulled from stores. What’s more disturbing is that the Sanlu Group was apparently receiving customer complaints about their dairy products as early as December of 2007. This has once again brought China’s food safety and quality control into serious question causing countries around the world to ban imports of Chinese milk products.

Melamine is a white powder that is used in industrial plastics-making. It is typically used in the manufacturing of floor tiles, formica, kitchenware, fertilizers and for the tanning of leathers. Due to the fact that melamine is nitrogen rich, when added to watered-down or below-standard milk, protein levels appear higher in standard quality tests. The problem is that melamine causes kidney stones and can even lead to kidney failure. Melamine was added because shrinking profit margins took precedence over public health, safety and worse yet, human life.

The Chinese government has responded in recent days with their typical song and dance. A few arrests have been made, and officials have been forced to resign in order to shift attention away from the government. The state controlled media (propaganda machine) has placed all the blame on the Sanlu Group Co. However, it’s interesting to note that Sanlu and many other leading companies involved in the scandal had been given inspection-free status by the government’s food safety watchdog. Chinese officials have tried to reassure a highly skeptical world that the problem is now under control. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, while speaking at the UN in New York, said the Chinese would use the crisis as a chance to overhaul safety controls. China will “take seriously supervision and inspections in every link of production, truly ensuring the interests of consumers,” Wen said.

The problem is it’s hard to take China seriously when you have a manufacturing track record as abysmal, fatal, as theirs. Just last year the world witnessed massive recalls with toothpaste laced with toxic diethylene glycol, contaminated seafood, faulty tires, lead-painted toys, and deadly pet food laced with none other than, melamine. When you add the latest toxic milk scandal to the list, it’s obvious that the interests and health of the consumers have never been of any concern to the Chinese.

So what has been the reaction from the KMT government in Taiwan? It can be described as slow, laughable, and worst of all, deadly for Taiwanese citizens. The KMT’s Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday night, in a move that defies all sense and reason, actually loosened the food safety standard for melamine from 0 parts per million (ppm) to 2.5 ppm, meaning that imported Chinese food products to Taiwan can contain up to 2.5 ppm of deadly melamine. Even in China, pig feed must have below 2.0 ppm of melamine. Before we go any further, it must be repeated that melamine is an industrial strength fertilizer and plastics-making chemical. It is not fit whatsoever for human consumption. How can the KMT have the audacity to think that any sane person would voluntarily choose to ingest something that is used for plastics-making? Ma Ying Jeou and the KMT have completely lost their minds if they think Taiwanese people will stand for poison in their food. If the KMT want melamine in their food, they should ask China to ship the 7,000 metric tons of removed toxic dairy products to Taiwan so they can consume all of it.

The DOH will also send a delegation of experts from Taiwan to China in hopes to better understand the recent scandal. But honestly, what more is there to understand? The Chinese were putting poison in their milk and knowingly selling it to consumers. Premier Liu Chao-shiuan said on Tuesday one of the reasons for sending a delegation to China was to, “set up a better system of food safety inspection modeled on the US Food and Drug Administration.” Can someone please tell me why then, if Taiwan wants to model the US Food and Drug Administration, we are sending experts to China to examine Chinese food safety controls? The world has seen time and again that China obviously has no idea what it’s doing when it comes to quality control. The KMT needs to spend more time developing stricter and more effective quality controls here in Taiwan than it does worrying about what’s happening in China.

The best idea, sorry worst, from president, sorry mister, Ma Ying Jeou has to be his idea to setup a hotline with Beijing to ensure food safety and public health in Taiwan. Here’s the simplest way to ensure public health in Taiwan, don’t buy from China. Why does Taiwan need a hotline to Beijing just for food safety? Does Mr. Ma plan to have more contaminated food sent to Taiwan in the future? Or does he actually think that the next time China has another manufacturing scandal, and they will have another one, that someone in China is going to call first on the hotline and give him the heads up? Ma and the KMT have consistently shown their incompetence, disregard for Taiwan, and love for China ever since Ma took office. The Taiwanese people can no longer idly sit by while the KMT ruins this country. Taiwan’s future will be one that is made in Taiwan, not China.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Warming relations or hot air?

When Ma Ying Jeou was elected earlier this year as the president of Taiwan, the Western media hailed it as a hallmark step towards the improving of relations between Taiwan and China. Since the election more and more articles have been written about how relations are warming and how the ties between the two countries are at an all-time high. This could not be farther from what is referred to as reality, or for that matter the truth.

If relations are really warming up, why does China still have over 1800 plus ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan? Military spending in China hit an all time high this past year, and will most definitely increase again next year. China regularly holds military exercises that simulate an attack on the sovereign island of Taiwan. Are these actions indicative of countries with warming ties and good relations? Why does China continue to adamantly deny Taiwan access into any international organization, most notably the United Nations and the World Health Organization? During the Olympics, Taiwan was once again referred to by the ridiculous moniker, “Chinese Taipei,” a slap in the face to all Taiwanese. Taiwan was also prohibited from flying our own national flag and playing our own national anthem at the games. Are these the signs of improving relations?

In August, Ma Ying Jeou, on his way to and back from a diplomatic trip to South America, made stopovers in the U.S., as well as Mexico, where he took the liberty of being interviewed by various foreign news agencies. Ma bragged that by establishing direct cross-straight flights between Taiwan and China, the influx of 3000 Chinese tourists a day would immediately rescue Taiwan’s faltering economy, as well as ease tensions across the Taiwan Strait. Well, it’s been over 100 days since Ma Ying Jeou took office. Where are all the Chinese tourists? The answer is they’re still in China. The real numbers tell a rather different story. Since direct flights started in mid-July, the average number of Chinese tourists a week has hovered around a paltry, penny pinching 300 Chinese. That’s about 43 tourists a day on average, which are only 2,957 tourists short of Ma Ying Jeou’s campaign promise of 3000 a day.

The problem with Ma Ying Jeou and KMT is that their idea of improved and warming relations with China is nothing more than complete capitulation of all the democratic progress and development that Taiwan has fought for over the past eight years. Of all the countries in the world, only one is openly hostile towards Taiwan. Only one country in the world has given itself the right to attack Taiwan by creating an insane and laughable law (Anti-Secession Law) passed by nothing more than a mere rubberstamp congress. Only one country on this planet actively brainwashes its own citizens (about 1.2 billion) into thinking that the completely independent and democratic island of Taiwan is a part of their completely communist country. To think that the key to rescuing Taiwan’s economy and international standing lies in closer ties, and eventually possible reunification, with this country is not only ludicrous, but delusional.

The future of Taiwan must be one which is decided by the 23,000,000 Taiwanese citizens of this island and this island alone. Taiwan has developed into one of the most democratic countries in Asia where freedom of speech and human rights are sacrosanct. What does Taiwan have to gain from aligning itself with the most corrupt and most brainwashed country on the planet? Earlier this year, Freedom House’s report ranked Taiwan 32nd out of 195 countries in terms of overall freedom of the press. China was close behind Taiwan at the 181st position out of 195. The entire world witnessed what happened when ordinary citizens exercise their right to protest and to free speech in China during the 2008 Olympics, jail. Incarceration was followed by immediate deportation for foreigners, and one can only imagine what happened to the Chinese who were fearless enough to take a stand for human rights.

For Ma Ying Jeou to think that China is the solution to all of Taiwan’s problems, when it’s actually the cause of all our problems, shows his complete lack of understanding about Taiwan and the country where he is now sadly president. What sane Taiwanese individual would choose to give up all of their rights as a free democratic citizen to become part of a communist country where citizens are fed propaganda and lies twenty-four hours a day? If Ma Ying Jeou and the KMT are so enthusiastic about returning to the China, I suggest they take the initiative and go first before they run this country into the ground.