All roads lead to China

This is, quite simply, the scariest article yet about the poisonous products being exported from China to your supermarket shelves. It’s about the willful efforts of Chinese companies to block the FDA’s frantic attempts to trace the source of the poison and cut it off. You have to read it to believe it. No wonder it’s featured as the No. 1 leading story in today’s Sunday Times. It’s a story of dogged detective work, cover-ups, corruption and death. Tremendous kudos to the Times for having the fortitude to pin this amazing story down in such detail. Again, it is simply unbelievable. Don’t miss the part about Sinochem refusing to give the investigators the phone number for the company it knew was poisoning people. Is this the best the world’s next great superpower can do? Yes, it’s a developing country, but these are rich, educated businessmen and party officials indulging in outright sleaze. And, in effect, murder.

This is what good journalism should be. It’s thorough, step by step and backed up with lots of names and quotes. And it reads like a thriller. Amazing.

No excerpts – you have to read it.

The Discussion: 53 Comments

And just as low down, dirty, disgusting and sleazy are the western chambers of commerce and import/export dirtballs who helped cover Chinese SOE tracks so they could maintain their business relationships. This practice also extends to trading in dual use and direct use military technology and is why Taiwan, Japan and SK are facing a much more formidable PLA than 10 years ago.

June 17, 2007 @ 3:06 pm | Comment


June 17, 2007 @ 5:07 pm | Comment

I think it is not so good journalism because it leaves many basic questions unanswered.
1. It does not say what enforcement powers the FDA has in cases of suspected food and drug contamination/forgery. Surely Sinochem can be blacklisted? US manfacturers and suppliers have to meet rigorous standards and I can’t see how the FDA would relax those standards for foreign manufacturers.

2. What quantities of food and chemicals does Sinochem supply to the US and other developed countries? Very little, I suspect. I know for a fact that US and European pharma manufacturing is based on very strictly supervised GMP standards. If Sinochem is as bad as this artcile implies then it will not be doing business in any country with a half decent regulatory authority.

3. Bear in mind that there are other agendas here, not just China’s shonky manufacturing practices. Big pharma in the US has been trying to raise the spectre of unsafe imports for years – ask Peter Rost who used to be with Pfizer. Or ask Rudolph Giuliani who has been paid millions by PhRMA to peddle the “imported drugs are dangerous” line. There are many very reputable drug manufacturers in places like India (Ranbaxay, Dr Reddy’s) who can make HIV medicines for a fraction of the prices charged by Pfizer, Merck and GSK. The industry does not like this at all and is using some very heavy handed tactics to try stymie them.

4. One more question: what role does the FDA think it has to investigate manufacturing practices in foreign countries? While I support their task, you have to ask whether the US would be happy to let Chinese government officials come knocking on the door of chemical plants in New Jersey brandishing sales orders and demanding access to all areas of their plant.

The very obvious solution to this problem is to insist that Chinese companies meet the basic requirements of Good Manufacturing Practice and for their products to be subject to independent verification. If not, then they will not be allowed to market their products. That’s how it works everywhere else and I suspect that’s what is already happening in the developed world for Chinese products. The cases of poisoning are happening in places where the regulatory authorities arenot doing their job – so you can’t just blame China.

June 17, 2007 @ 9:19 pm | Comment

So Michael, you think the important part of this story is the FDA’s abuse of its powers, the FDA, which was trying to save lives by tracking down poisonous products being shipped into America and save lives… You see that as the question the journalists should have pursued, the powers of the FDA, and not the stonewalling by Sinochem and party officials who were content to let people die?

I don’t pretend to know the details of the powers of the FDA and Center for Disease Control and other organizations like them. But I do know they work with other nations in a cooperative manner to save lives. You can really read this story, and come away thinking there was something bad about the FDA. Remarkable. Let me just ask, do you know what the FDA’s charter is when it comes to poisonous substances entering America, and if so, did they violate their charter? Typical of so much of the crap here lately, look at a frightening story about China and find the real bad guy in the Americans. The FDA was doing its job, trying to find where the poison was coming from. Most countries – especially great superpowers – would want to help, not hinder such an investigation. They would cooperate, not stonewall. The FDA can’t march into China and arrest people. But if Chinese companies are importing poisons products and foods in the US, it is damn sure the FDA’s job to do all in its power to stop it. And rational governments, again, cooperate with such efforts. Real governments, I mean.

Yes, I’m definitely losing my patience with this blog and the rapidly plunging intelligence quotient of the commenters here (or at least some of them).

June 17, 2007 @ 9:44 pm | Comment

Richard, I really like your comment:

Yes, it’s a developing country, but these are rich, educated businessmen and party officials indulging in outright sleaze.

It certainly seems as if these educated people would like to use the fact that China is a developing country as an excuse for their despicable actions. However, the fact remains that China is a highly complex, diverse and stratified society.

June 17, 2007 @ 10:07 pm | Comment

It’s really scary to think of what the situation in China is like. Here is another story about food unsafty in China and SEA.

June 17, 2007 @ 10:47 pm | Comment

The article is a must-read but Richard’s gets one detail wrong: the main poisoning case was in Haiti, and that brings me to one of Michael’s points:

4. One more question: what role does the FDA think it has to investigate manufacturing practices in foreign countries?

Why stop with manufacturing, Michael? What role does the FDA think it has to investigate poisonings caused in a country outside the US by ingredients imported by yet another country? How dare America appoint itself the hegemon of global health! After all, what business is it of ours if Haitians are poisoned by Chinese?


Anyhow, the answer to Michael’s question is in the article itself:

Finding counterfeiters often means pursuing leads across foreign borders, and no international authority has the power to do that. Dr. Howard Zucker, who helps to oversee drug issues for the W.H.O., said individual countries must conduct their own trace-back investigations.

But if the United States could not do that on behalf of Haiti, poorer, less influential nations would have little chance of tracking down counterfeiters.

The US tried and failed in its investigation because only the US had the resources to help Haiti in this case. Yes, it’s far outside of the FDA’s mandate to help Haitians but are we going to make the perfect the enemy of the good here? If a plague broke out in Brazil, would you balk at sending the CDC to help the victims?

A footnote: let’s remember that this investigation was at a time — the mid-to-late 1990s — when the US and China were far chummier than they are now. I shudder to think how much more obfuscation goes on in the system today.

June 18, 2007 @ 12:05 am | Comment

“It certainly seems as if these educated people would like to use the fact that China is a developing country as an excuse for their despicable actions.”

Yeah. That’s the wild card that gets played every time China’s on the back foot concerning social, environmental, or health issues.

Much of the investigation in China ran into the kind of obfuscation, excuses, and denial of accountability that are endemic in Chinese society. Here are a few gems that you are just as likely to run into when speaking to a bank clerk as you are when conducting an official investigation:

“Chinese drug regulators, who promised to help …said it “will take time,””

“When … investigators called the plant manager, … they were told he was not available.”

“Sinochem officials denied any wrongdoing, ….certificates of analysis showed that the suspect shipment was safe…. But when the F.D.A. asked to see them, Sinochem refused.”

“A Chinese government official (who asked not to be identified) said the Americans’ frustration might have stemmed from their misunderstanding … which led them to seek help from the wrong officials.”

Other classics that are used to stall investigations or simply to avoid an honest day’s work are “it’s complicated” “you don’t understand…” “the person who can help you is not here” “come back tomorrow” or “you’re disturbing my efforts to win my fifth straight game of Free Cell.”

There is necessarily a staggering lack of moral responsibility involved when a safe substance is consciously replaced by a cheaper, toxic one for the sake of profit. A genuine error would be serious enough; the disregard for human life demonstrated in both the initial chemical substitution and the cover up are truly outrageous.

It comes as no surprise to learn that Sinochem are state owned. Therefore, not for the first time, the CCP have innocent blood on their hands. Sadly, infuriatingly, they have long since perfected the dual arts of passing the buck and not giving a damn.

June 18, 2007 @ 12:44 am | Comment

The FDA’s powers may be muted wholly or in part by the fact that they aren’t actually empowered with regulating trade and imports into this country. Theirs is but a small piece of the pie.

“It certainly seems as if these educated people would like to use the fact that China is a developing country as an excuse for their despicable actions. However, the fact remains that China is a highly complex, diverse and stratified society.”

All countries are, even small ones. That is a horrbily weak excuse for CHina’s behavior. I suppose for you China’s “complexity” is good enough to justify supporting the Kim family in NK all these years.

As for US Big Pharm opposition to discount drug manufacturing, they oppose imported drugs, not the cheap chemicals they use to make their own drugs then resell at ultra-high prices. Thus, Dr. Reddy’s is the enemy for selling high quality, low cost AIDS drugs but Merck is fully able to import Sinochem’s garbage, stick it in our cough medicine then say “i didn’t know!” when toddlers start keeling over.

China is to blame for its laziness and shoddy products, but Big Corporations are equally bad, bad, bad for their complicity with China.

June 18, 2007 @ 1:08 am | Comment

The Times lost all credibility on anything related to China when it got their yellow peril, Wen Ho Lee, all but executed on suspicion of being a spy for China.

Wen Ho Lee was acquitted, and released after a year in jail/solitary. The judge ended up having to apologize to Lee for the whole travesty.

Yep, “this is what good journalism should be” (if you’re a racist).

June 18, 2007 @ 1:25 am | Comment

i definitely want to slap the bastards who exported those to kids etc.

but all the sudden, another horrible pharmaceutical case surfaced to my mind– pfizer in nigeria

although they are quite different in nature: the chinese one was to lower costs without any regards to ppl’s life; the pfizer one, murkier but most likely intentional

btw, to whomever substituting richard, can we have some exposures to news that are just fun, but not necessarily negative? china needs a freaking ton of changes, it would be great if we can actually initiate some actions instead of only rants. even as expats, can’t we do something instead of just pointing fingers? (that kinda reminds me of the college students back in u.s. who are all eloquent but do not push for any political reforms)

June 18, 2007 @ 2:44 am | Comment

Shut down doesn’t mean relocated, but I’m sure you are being sarcastic John.

Though there is quite a bit of blame to be placed on foreign corporations who buy this crap from China to save money so their unskilled, fat ass executives can buy more gold foil shower curtains and fat, sweaty, dirty expat import/export types who promote “not irritating China” with rubbish news stories about poisoned medicine.

Cut off all trade with China.
Beat corporate executives and drive them into the woods.
Ban expats from returning home, they like “the capitalist’s paradise” so much? Then stay there.

Chinese posters should spend more time organizing another Boxer Rebellion to throw out the foreign garbage.

June 18, 2007 @ 3:10 am | Comment

China will eventually adopt GMP standard due to these cases. Some of them already do. I know a small biotech company orders all their chemical from China and requires GMP manufacturing because it is going to clinical trails. The chemical ordered are all accompanied by IR, mass spec, and NMR spectrum which is hard ot fake all three. In addition, the chemical is re-checked again here (btw America supplied chemical is re-checked, too). If there is something wrong, the companies are not getting paid unless they can resolve the issues.

June 18, 2007 @ 3:20 am | Comment

“the chemical is re-checked again here (btw America supplied chemical is re-checked, too). ”

Indeed. Some of you guys lack of some basic knowledge about pharm and specialty chemical industry.

I used to work for a specialty chemical industry. Any raw materials, if critical, will be re-checked for composition. Let alone for chemicals that will go into human body.

It is plainly criminal behavior to use some stuff through SEVERAL middleman, without any knowledge of manufacturer, and then without checking the composition, use it for Children!

Then you blame all this on a Chinese company. This approach is just plain stupid.

Use a little bit of brain. Ask yourself: if you are trying to solve this problem, is this the right approach?

June 18, 2007 @ 6:09 am | Comment

How many times must this be stated? To deliberately substitute ingredients is criminal. There simply is no greater culpability than on the company that did the substituting, regardless of the greed or incompetence of other parties along the way.

June 18, 2007 @ 8:14 am | Comment

Not trying to let China off the hook, Richard. I worked in the pharma industry for several years and am all too well aware of the woeful quality standards of Chinese manufacturers. But there’s nothing new about fake/tainted medicines being exported from China, this has been going on for years. Why has it suddenly become front page news? There have been much worse cases in other countries [Bangladesh for example] from substandard pharmaceuticals and foods being marketed.
What has changed to make this issue an urgent priority?

What Chinese companies and regulators are doing is bad. Yes. Is that new? Is it a surprise? No. But there are simple systems and protocols [GMP] that can prevent this. Not very dramatic, but effective. Once China understand that it will be economically penalised if GMP standards are not adhered to, its companies will comply.

I am not trying to “find the real bad guy” in the FDA. The agency’s reputation is already in tatters as your own politicians like Senator Grassley will tell you. I don’t need to add anything to that.

The FDA has taken a markedly different position to other regulatory agencies on the issue of imported medicines. If the US, like Canada, accepted imported medicines, the pharma industry would lose something like $35 billion. So it is quite a legitimate question to ask why the FDA, unlike other drug regulatory bodies, is raising so much alarm about the safety of imported medicines.

If asking questions about the underlying agendas of major players is a mark of low intelligence, I plead guilty of being thick.

June 18, 2007 @ 9:26 am | Comment

“There simply is no greater culpability than on the company that did the substituting, regardless of the greed or incompetence of other parties along the way.”

The problem is that no one got an authentic certificate of analysis from the manufacturer.

A simple solution is to check a chemical before you use it. It is reasonable for a company to skip checking if the materials has been checked before and there is trusted business relationship. But without any idea of the manufacturer, it is unimaginable to used it for kids.

It is simply laughable to blame a label on a bucket. The materials has been passed hands of many middleman. The composition statement is likely from the last middleman to protect their business. Now you put blame on the first manufacturer. You think that makes sense?

It does not make any sense to me.

June 18, 2007 @ 9:39 am | Comment

hey, FDA’s approval of aspartame is as sketchy… now this brings up the monster, Monsanto…

June 18, 2007 @ 10:20 am | Comment

What changed, Michael, was the recent rash of news about poisonous toothpaste, pet food and other products from China. It has cast China in the spotlight, and there’s no getting out for now. Those things you reference may be “old news” but they are relevant to the “new news” and it’s pretty standard that they’d be brought up again.

Yes, hookah, you’re right, the FDA is the bad guy here.

June 18, 2007 @ 11:06 am | Comment

forget the poison story, i have a question for nanheyangrouchuan.

were you sodomized in a chinese prison before? please tell me you had a relative that was killed by the chinese state or you are a flger.

cause you seem to respond to all these various china related blogs with your page long anti-china rants like this is your full time job. i am really curious as to what is the source of all this hate and how do you have time to do this. what don’t you just create your blog and earn some of the ad money?

i understand where those nationalistic bloggers come from. to provide a parallel, if a chinese person trolled all possible chinese blogs about america leaving hateful rants, i would surmise that person somehow got serious Fu*ked by america. anyways, you are very interesting to me.

June 18, 2007 @ 11:21 am | Comment

“But there’s nothing new about fake/tainted medicines being exported from China, this has been going on for years. Why has it suddenly become front page news? There have been much worse cases in other countries [Bangladesh for example] from substandard pharmaceuticals and foods being marketed.”

Because corporations in Europe, Canada, the US, etc pressured national regulatory agencies not to “upset China” and endanger their business prospects there by “bashing China” with regards to hazardous cost cutting measures on outsourced products. The foreign chambers of commerce also do alot of lobbying and “doorknock tours” to harass members of congress not to regulate stuff imported from China.

Kinda like “Red Corner” where the state department sells out Richard Gere’s character to avoid messing other business negotiations.

June 18, 2007 @ 11:43 am | Comment

steve, whatever. You want to pretend that the Chinese company isn’t to blame, you just go right ahead. Meanwhile Chinese products’ international reputation will suffer and the Chinese people will continue to bear the brunt of this corruption, greed and dishonesty.

June 18, 2007 @ 12:08 pm | Comment

This is exactly why Chinese living in and visiting the United States buy loads and loads of vitamins and other health products to send back home to their families. It’s also why they try only to buy the biggest brand name products when they’re in China. They know better than to buy knock-offs or cheaper brands.

June 18, 2007 @ 12:52 pm | Comment

Of course, when the biggest brand names in the US are using basic ingredients imported from China, the positive benefit is now eliminated.

Shop organic, shop local, refuse to buy anything made in china. If you want to do a service while you shop, buy Mexico and central America to increase factory profits, productivity and employment down there to reduce illegal immigration up here.

June 18, 2007 @ 1:23 pm | Comment


as far as I know, nobody here bothers to engage nanheyxx; you shouldn’t either if you are mad about him.

June 18, 2007 @ 2:27 pm | Comment

Dig around and you find some strange contradictions. The “expert” group that is most vocal in these media stories about dangerous imported products from China is the “Bulk Pharmaceuticals Task Force”. This is actually a lobbying organisation set up by the US chemical industry. And yet while it calls for more stringent regulation of Chinese imports, it is simultaneously campaigning to water down extra safety checks being planned by the EU (


Well in the Boston Globe today we read:

“Dilip Shah, secretary general of the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance, representing Indian drugmakers, said … that when US groups raise questions about the quality of India’s products, ‘one must not forget they may have some agenda,’ such as protecting their market share.

FDA officials say they are not aware of any health problems caused by drugs imported from India or China, and that the American companies that import them usually do their own quality and safety testing. ”

June 18, 2007 @ 2:57 pm | Comment

Michael, you’re really determined to grasp at straws to make this seem like a bad story. Let’s take a look at what you conveniently censored from Dilip’s quote (and it was really shrewd of you not to give a link here):

“Dilip Shah, secretary general of the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance, representing Indian drugmakers, said he would like to see a more permanent FDA presence in India as ‘it would help improve standards’ and encourage more companies to seek FDA approval of their products.”


I’m watching you, Michael.

In addition, the Times cites several experts, not just BPTF, like the CDC and FDA and others. You may not like one of these experts, but the Times offers multiple viewpoints. Try again.

June 18, 2007 @ 3:34 pm | Comment

Why do people allways try to make everything here a case of China vs. evil, untrue accusations. There surely are cases were Western media is not giving the whole picture but in this case the people who should be most worried are the Chinese themselves and people who live in China.

If Chinese companies don’t have problems faking products for exports why should they have problems faking those sold on the domestic market?

And though there might be problems with the FDA or the European drug and food saftey controlls, gee, the former head of Chinas drug and food administration, Zheng Xiaoyu, just was found guilty of taking bribes worth about $800,000 in exchange for approving drug production licenses, and was sentenced to death. That guy was in charge from 1998 till 2005. Two other top agency officials were also detained.

They are now reviewing over 170,000 production licenses issued by the agency over the past decade.
This would be cause for a major political earthquake were I come from.

I don’t know, but isn’t this cause for serious doubts about drug and food safety in China? And shouldn’t it be in the very interest of every Chinese that as much as possible of these practices is revealed?

June 18, 2007 @ 5:10 pm | Comment

and so the melt down continues….

June 18, 2007 @ 6:32 pm | Comment

I agree with Richard’s first point that the quality of most posting is beyond awful. Like a group of lunatics is a padded room screaming at each other. A bunch of people are dead, and all pro-China people can say is the FDA should have tried harder or they have an agenda. It really is the dialogue of the deaf.


I am waiting for someone to blame the Japanese.

June 18, 2007 @ 6:33 pm | Comment

Sorry I commented. I was just trying to make the point that there’s more to this story than meets the eye. My first comment here in many months [years?] and I get accused of censorship, lowering the tone with my lukewarm IQ and besmirching a fine watchdog. I feel well and truly admonished and shall retreat back into my shell!

June 18, 2007 @ 10:49 pm | Comment

I share Michael’s opinion that people with an agenda are partially behind these stories about Chinese imports. That does not mean that there isn’t a problem. It does mean that big pharma may exploit a very real problem in order to block a relaxation of regulations against foreign competition.

Michael is no troll and does not need to be watched. If his facts are wrong, prove it. If his logic is faulty, explain how.

I hope you’ll continue commenting here, Michael. Intelligent and informed commenter JXie seems to have gone quiet and that’s a shame. I prefer to participate in blogs that generate vigorous debates. Incestuous amplification is icky.

June 18, 2007 @ 11:11 pm | Comment

Let me add that there is no way big pharma wants to lose China as an export base.

For years large German and American concerns have been setting up plants to produce base chemicals in China. If problems due to unscupulous producers and a lack of concern on the part of the government help to lead to a ban on using China as a source there will be billions of investment dollars and production gone to waste.

If anything, I bet big pharma is screaming to make sure that there IS a crackdown on the fringe producers…

June 19, 2007 @ 12:25 am | Comment

“Let me add that there is no way big pharma wants to lose China as an export base. ….

If anything, I bet big pharma is screaming to make sure that there IS a crackdown on the fringe producers…”

Indeed, that’s the very irony. It is illegal for individuals to import pharmaceuticals directly into the United States, yet big pharma does import from overseas. Pfizer, Glaxo-Smth Kline and others can use their tremendous buying power to ensure the safety and authenticity of the ingredients they buy and really do not want any US government meddling. They may, however, at the same time use the media attention to stop consumer groups fighting to break its oligopoly on US drug sales.

Amongst the thousands of witty 4-character Chinese proverbs, there must be one to describe a situation in which someone takes advantage of a diversion to pull off a fast one.

June 19, 2007 @ 2:26 am | Comment

I think Shulans comment about how this will affect the Chinese people is important. In other countries we can improve our systems, we can also block Chinese stuff if we deem them too irresponsible.

But how does this affect the Chinese, I mean crap, they really don’t need their stuff being blocked out. As I understand, the CCP has built up a system dependant on foreign trade, so that means the Chinese are very fragile…

This problem on top of the fact that the Chinese can’t trust the food and drugs in their country.

If you replace this example of CCP bad reputation with other idiocies, you get the same, a crappy outcome for the people.

It sure doesnt help that because of propaganda and manipulation the Chinese people dont see it coming, they can’t see what others can see so they don’t know where the CCP is leading them, if they hear success and glory, pride and domination through the media messages highjacked by the gov’t,

How can the people realize that people are not anti’China, they are wary of the CCP well deserved reputation for disrespect for human life and unwillingness to be flexible and stop doing crazy things like supporting NKorea, killing FgAoLnUgN, all out corruption, total media censorship, excuses upon excuse for environmental destruction, dealings with repressive regimes in the world… on and on.

Its not that peoplein the world do not want to love China and embrace those cool Chinese people, I want to, but if you look at the CCP leadership, who can embrace that? No country would want that style imposed on themselves so they are justly wary.

And because of that, the Chinese people should become independant of the freak party, or suffer having the reputation of the party

June 19, 2007 @ 6:15 am | Comment

Sonagi, sorry if I over-reacted to Michael’s comment, buit his deceptive use of tri-dots to shade out the good things the person was saying about the FDA really bothered me. So when I see someone using techniques like that, I watch carefully. When they quote without a link, I go back and find the article. If Michael’s comment with the tri-dots was totally in good faith and he left out the good things the quotee said about the FDA for a legitimate reason, I sincerely apologize.

June 19, 2007 @ 7:37 am | Comment

Thanks for the link to the Boston Globe article, Richard. I read the entire thing and noticed this:

““As the manufacturing goes to China and India, the risk to human health is growing exponentially,” said Brant Zell, past president of the Bulk Pharmaceuticals Task Force, which represents US drug-ingredient makers that filed a citizen’s petition with the FDA last year asking it to oversee foreign firms more aggressively.

FDA officials say they are not aware of any health problems caused by drugs imported from India or China, and that the American companies that import them usually do their own quality and safety testing.”

What I read between the lines is that big pharma does want the FDA involved in foreign manufacturing of drug ingredients, perhaps to save money – let the taxpayer-funded FDA pick up some of the tab for safety testing – and perhaps to help reassure the public.

There is an alternative to direct FDA involvement in foreign manufacturing and that is a private international organization. Owing to the trouble and expense involved in obtaining the increasingly watered down USDA organic certification, small farmers have banded together to create their own organic seal. Looks like big pharma has already started solving its own problem:

“Because of US drugmakers’ concerns over quality control, US Pharmacopoeia—a nonprofit organisation that works with drugmakers and regulators to set drug-quality standards—opened an office in Hyderabad. Executive Director Roger Williams said Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories recently became the first Indian firm to agree to pay USP to verify the quality of its products. “

I see why you’re suspicious because of the fact that a link was given for the first article but not the second with a quote taken out of context.

June 19, 2007 @ 11:23 am | Comment

Sonagi, exactly. And the quote wasn’t only out of context, it was tri-dotted…because the quoted person made the exact point the commenter didn’t want made.

Excellent comment, as always, Sonagi.

June 19, 2007 @ 4:04 pm | Comment

This is an amazing story, one of many of late out of the NYTimes. If one ignores morality, there is enough blame in these situations for everyone and all those involved in the chain have to ask themselves if not me ….?

All those in the chain must take it upon themselves to make sure they are contributing to safety and not just passing on. As I US based lawyer, I can most emphatically state that doing this is (if it isn’t already) going to become a business necessity. Or would you prefer to face a jury and say you did not know?

June 19, 2007 @ 5:17 pm | Comment

Funny that “michael” suggests blacklisting of Sinochem.
Nigeria has done exactly that! Look here:

Note that Sinochem is a Fortune Top 500 company and state-owned… blacklisting would hit them tremendously. What is good enough for Nigeria should be good enough for the US…

June 19, 2007 @ 6:18 pm | Comment

“I was just trying to make the point that there’s more to this story than meets the eye. ”

No. You were deliberately leaving out crucial information in order to mislead. It’s called LYING. Dumbass.

Which brings me to my point, I’m really tired of the quality of discussion on this blog too. Used to be the pro-CCP people on this blog would occassionally argue a point on it’s merits. Now all we have is brainwashed party shills and hacks completely devoid of independent thought. People who will look you in the eye and lie straight-faced (michael).

How can you have rational discussion with people who look at a piece of shit on the ground and swear up and down, on their mother’s graves, that it’s a rose? People who call all who disagree with them malicious liars or dupes (terms more appropriate to they themselves) and would defend the torture and murder of those who disagree with them.

The NYT article was questionable reporting? Of course not. None of these CCP types has any business questioning that story. How would a troll who lives in a cave know the first thing about what a ray of sunshine looks like?

Maybe we’re wasting our breath. I figure, if the pro-CCP types on this board want to live in a world of tortured lies, fuck ’em. Let ’em live in it. Let their family members die of poison products, let their children end of as slaves in brick kilns (yes, I know the Chinese media reported that story but the party’s duck, cover and smear maching kicked into action right away) and let them weave whatever fantasy they want to explain it.

The rest of us can work to improve our own countries and implement the right defenses against whatever ugliness the Party tries to export whether it be poison products or fantasy nationalism.

So endith the rant.

Now I feel better. 🙂

June 19, 2007 @ 6:50 pm | Comment

Well-said, Buddah. But I hear the reply already: You’re the brainwashed one, you don’t understand China, Americans killed the Indians, why don’t you leave if you hate it so much, the Opium Wars, you don’t understand China, let the Chinese people decide for themselves what’s best for them (as if they have much choice), you get your China-hating opinions from the China-hating US media, you’re a racist, everyone’s so critical of China because they can’t face up to the evils of their own government, and, just for good measure, you don’t understand China.

And around and around it goes. Still don’t know what I’ll do with this site. As I keep hinting, I’m so tempted to just close it down, but after all this time and history, that would be painful. I think the only practical solution is weeding out the nutballs on both sides of the aisle. You can come here and disagree with me like Jxie or bingfeng and I’ll never think about deleting. But when I read Arty and Hong Xing and others, I really wonder why I have to sacrifice my blog to give them a platform – and nanhe, too. This is not what this site used to be about. I can pretty much pinpoint the descent from the moment I had to start working late and ignoring the site. Let’s see if I can bring it back…

June 19, 2007 @ 9:05 pm | Comment

Richard, I think this blog is very good and you should keep it here as long as you can.
You might occasionally see shallow arguments from half-brain and idiotized Fenqings, which I think is ok for a couple of reasons:
1) Nobody will be affected by whatever they say, except those who are already Fenqing themselves.
2) It shows the reality that many, if not most of, educated Chinese (who at least can use English) are either bigotry or ignorant. I think people who want to know China needs to understand this to be prepared before they talk to a Chinese about issues inolving China.
3) People learn from discussions and do change. Two or three years ago I commented several times here on issues about Taiwan and Japan. Since then my understanding towards those issues has changed quite dramatically. Such change is not completely a result of visiting this blog, but I think it helped.
4) It’s ok if they reply with “You’re the brainwashed one, you don’t understand China, and Americans killed the Indians …” I would have made similar arguments myself back a few years. For many apparent reasons (education, political environment and government censorship), Chinese don’t have many opportunities to encounter rational public discussions, not to mention having them themselves with non-Chinese. Your blog does give them a platform to expose their thoughts to others, not ordinary other Chinese, but non-Chinese who not only know of China, but are interested in and able to discuss about so many issues in China. Many of them may not know people here have had so many discussions on so many issues already and can’t help making their stand clear, getting their voice heard, and venting their indignation by throwing out all those stale arguments. So I was wondering if it would help to extract some past comments and categorise them by topics for references?

June 20, 2007 @ 5:17 am | Comment


I agree with Bing. I think your site raises some many interesting discussion points and it would be a shame to stop working on it because of a small group of people who are not willing to accept that maybe what they have been subjected to all their life is not 100% correct. No matter what facts, figures or pictures you give to them, it is hard to get someone to agree that maybe the information you have is more accurate when everyone they have ever been taught to respect has told them differently.

I have seen some great discussions on this site and enjoy chipping in every so often where I feel emotionally charged enough to comment.

I can only finish by stating that before I came to China I knew almost nothing about the country. Only by coming here and encountering people whose opinions differed from mine, have I developed an interest in learning more about the country. Ok I do admit I was getting sick of people telling me what great things Mao did and how America started the Korean War, but by doing this I have I hope gained a better understanding of the people and the country. My opinions of the CCP, the country itself and its people have changed in many areas since I have been here. Some for the better some for the worse, but only by having such areas to exchange ideas and information can we all truly learn. For those people that always just deny what happens here, what can one say? Ignoring them sounds best…. Just remember though that for every moron out there, there is someone else who comes to your blog and thinks, heh, that’s strange, I don’t remember being taught that at school, I should look into this more…

June 20, 2007 @ 4:19 pm | Comment

Bing and Guy, thanks a lot for the encouragement. I would hate to give it up, and I know a lot (or at least some) good has come out of this project of mine, The Peking Duck.

My headache is that many of the people I know and care about here have told me they no longer read the threads because there is always the same tug-of-war between the usual suspects. If you go back to 2005, when this site was at its peak, some of the threads were simply amazing, with some brilliant exchanges of ideas (and a lot of BS, too, but it’s always going to be that way). I used to look forward to diving into the next thread, but now I cringe. The caliber of the commenters was so high, and most of those people have been forced out by the maelstrom of nonsense that dominates current discussions here,

About going back and categorizing comments, Bing – sorry, but I simply don’t have the time for it. Back in 2005-6, this site was on my front burner, now it’s not.

I’m not closing it, but I have to say my heart isn’t in it.

June 20, 2007 @ 5:54 pm | Comment

“My headache is that many of the people I know and care about here have told me they no longer read the threads because there is always the same tug-of-war between the usual suspects. If you go back to 2005, when this site was at its peak, some of the threads were simply amazing, with some brilliant exchanges of ideas (and a lot of BS, too, but it’s always going to be that way)”

I, too, have noticed that some thoughtful, informed longtime commenters seem to have drifted away. I learn as much from good comments as I do from the posts. It’s your blog, Richard. What do you want – a free speech forum or a moderated forum that encourages responsible commenting? Individual blog moderation does not threaten free speech in general. Anyone can get their own soapbox at one of the free blog-hosting portals. I believe strict moderation would raise the quality of your blog content and encourage you to consider restricting comments to registered users and a three-strikes-you’re-out approach to those prolific “good China/bad China” screamers. You are too busy to babysit your blog 24/7.

June 20, 2007 @ 10:21 pm | Comment

Sonagi, I like it. Of course I’ll instantly be labelled a hypocrite and enemy of “free speech” by those who don’t understand that operating the blog exactly as I choose to IS freedom of speech.

June 21, 2007 @ 6:10 am | Comment

AMEN, Richard.

June 21, 2007 @ 7:56 am | Comment

Sonagi, thanks for the kind words. I hope my latest posts didn’t alter your opinions. LOL. Life is getting a bit busier so likely I will fade out soon.

Have nothing much to say w.r.t. this specific topic. Just want to give you a couple of links to show you why I call NYT news reporting sloppy at best.

NYT’s piece “Online Sales Lose Steam”:

A couple of comments by Slate and

June 21, 2007 @ 11:23 am | Comment

Jxie, I can google around, too, and find examples of sloppy journalism in any and every publication. The NYT, for all its faults, has one of the world’s best track records. Of course, it doesn’t hold a candle to China Daily, but on the whole it is a great newspaper. It led the way on the China exports scandal and did an amazingly thorough job. Just as it led on the Pentagon Papers, Bush’s illegal NSA wiretaps and many other stories highly critical of the US government. I promise, it’s not because they hate China. They do it to everybody. That’s what they’re here for.

June 21, 2007 @ 7:49 pm | Comment

“Just want to give you a couple of links to show you why I call NYT news reporting sloppy at best.”

How about balancing that with a few million links that demonstrate how Chinese newspapers are propagandizing, nationalistic, anti-American slogan bearers at best?

June 21, 2007 @ 7:51 pm | Comment

So I got my latest C&EN today, ACS weekly communicate. There is an article about Chinese chemicals. Here is a link:

I will let you guys be the judge.

June 22, 2007 @ 1:16 am | Comment

I’d rather prefer sometimes biased and sloppy news from western media than always straight and pompous lies from Chinese ones.

June 22, 2007 @ 6:14 am | Comment

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