Toxic Gelatin Medicine Capsules Cause Outcry in China

1 May, 2012 at 15:13 | Posted in Body & Mind, China, Food | Leave a comment
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By Cheryl Chen
Epoch Times Staff

The most recent in a seemingly endless march of food and drug safety scandals in China involves toxic gelatin, used in the creation of medical capsules and food products. The incident has drawn a strong outcry from the public, with Chinese bloggers and media urging higher authorities to punish the watchdog officials for dereliction of duty.

The scandal came to public light when Zhou Pu, a news anchorman for the CCTV nightly news, posted a message on his microblog on April 9, warning people to not consume yogurt and jello. “There are terrible dark secrets [behind this],” he said. His posting soon went viral on the web.

On April 15, CCTV, the state broadcaster, reported in a program on quality issues that a total of 13 commonly used drugs were packaged into capsules made from industrial gelatin, which contains up to 90-times more chromium than edible gelatin. The increase was due to the use of a tanning agent normally used to process leather.

Gelatin is used in a wide variety of foods and is also used to make the colored capsules which different kinds of powdered medications are placed inside. Chromium can be toxic and carcinogenic if ingested in excessive amounts.

China’s Ministry of Public Security on April 22 said that it has confiscated 77 million capsules made from industrial gelatin containing chromium, according to a report by state media Xinhua.

The ministry said it arrested nine suspects, detained 54 and ceased 80 industrial gelatin and gel capsule manufacturing lines, the report said.

In an attempt to quell public outrage an official from the Ministry of Health claimed that it is alright to swallow up to six capsules containing excessive chromium. The statement had the opposite effect, however, arousing even more public anger.

In a BBC report, analysts said there are long-standing problems in the gelatin industry in China. With 20 billion Yuan ($3.17 billion) worth of toxic capsules flowing into the market, the damage may be as serious to health as the melamine scandal a few years ago, which caused national outcry and resulted in hundreds of thousands of infants suffering kidney damage, and at least a dozen deaths.

Chinese media reported that industrial gelatin is also used in other industries including the food industry for making dairy products such as ice cream. But that statement was denied by certain food industry enterprises.

A similar situation was exposed in 2004 by Chinese media that some merchants in Fucheng County, Hubei Province, were selling industrial gelatin as edible gelatin.

Mr. Liu from Fucheng County told The Epoch Times, many people in his village used to secretly buy leather waste from leather factories, turning it into gelatin and selling it to candy and popsicle factories. Those individuals had not run into problems because they had been bribing local officials on a monthly basis, he said.

Liu said after the media exposed it, local authorities closed down the illegal factories; but when things cooled down, the merchants started sending money to local officials again and resumed their businesses. Recently, however, the factories were leveled by bulldozers, he added.

Zhao Pu, the first whistle blower in the scandal, disappeared from the public eye after he posted his microblog message. CCTV said that he has been on normal leave.

Sina’s Weibo saw nearly 3.5 million netizens express their frustration with the news of toxic gelatin capsules. Several Chinese media published editorials urging authorities to punish watchdog officials for dereliction of duty, and many bloggers demanded that the Minister of Public Health and director of State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) be removed from their posts.

Blogger Lin Yu wrote, “If this had happened in Western countries, the Minister of Public Health and director of SFDA would have to step down. Yet Chinese officials still stay high and dry. It’s ridiculous.”

Germany-based Chinese writer Zhou Qing told Radio Free Asia, “All the problems of China boil down to the system. The system is corrupt from head to toe.”

via Toxic Gelatin Medicine Capsules Cause Outcry in China | Society | China | Epoch Times

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Analysts Find Blind Chinese Lawyer’s Escape Significant

1 May, 2012 at 10:05 | Posted in China, human rights, persecution | Leave a comment
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Chen Guangcheng’s flight may end security head’s career

By Ming Chen & Jane Lin
Epoch Times Staff

Blind Chinese lawyer Chen Guangcheng’s escape from house arrest to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing has been called a miracle by Chinese netizens. It may end the career of a high level communist official.

Former Chongqing Public Security Chief Wang Lijun’s attempt to defect at the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu on Feb. 6 led to the fall of former political star Bo Xilai. Many China analysts believe that Chen’s audacious escape on April 22 will bring down Zhou Yongkang. Zhou is the head of China’s domestic security apparatus, the Political and Legislative Affairs Committee (PLAC), which controls all aspects of law enforcement in China. The PLAC has a 2012 budget of over 700 billion yuan (USD$100 billion) for what the regime calls “stability maintenance.”

Hong Kong’s Apple Daily reported that Chen planned his escape for over two months. Previously, Chen tried to dig a tunnel to escape but was discovered. For a long time, he stayed in bed during the day, pretending to be sick, and the guards around his house eventually relaxed their vigilance. At night Chen practiced wall climbing. He was alert to every move made by the guards at night.

“When Chen finally escaped on the night of April 22, he climbed over the first wall in the ten seconds it took a guard to fetch water. He went through seven barriers, crossed a river, and stumbled and fell over one hundred times, injuring his leg and getting covered with mud. Chen contacted activist He Peirong who picked Chen up and drove him to Beijing,” Teng Biao, a well-known Beijing human rights lawyer said in a Tweet. According to Teng, it took the guards four days to realize that Chen was missing.

Renowned human rights lawyer Hu Jia met with Chen in Beijing on April 27. He told Sound of Hope (SOH) Radio Networks on April 28 that Chen was at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

“The minute we saw each other he gave me a good hug. Then we kept calling each other ‘brother, brother.’ We burst into tears because we were so excited,” Hu said.

ChinaAid, a Christian human rights organization, reported on April 28 that Chen is under United States protection, with American and Chinese officials discussing Chen’s status.

ChinaAid president Bob Fu said he believed that He Peirong, the activist who helped Chen escape, has been arrested at her home in Nanjing. “We were on the phone on the morning of April 27 when she said that Domestic Security police had arrived. Then we lost contact. Presumably she has been arrested.”

Earlier, He Peirong had sent a Twitter message saying, “I will not go into hiding and will stay in my home.” She also said that Chen had said he wanted to keep living in his home, and he wants freedom and justice.

The Epoch Times called He’s cell phone several times, but was unable to connect.

Bob Fu said Chen’s brother Chen Guangfu has been arrested and security guards were surrounding Chen Guangfu’s home. Chen’s nephew Chen Kegui is on the run, according to Fu.

Members of Chen’s family said that in 2006 many of Chen’s relatives were arrested and beaten, and some were detained for three to six months. Chen’s relatives asked not to be identified in this article.

In mid-September 2011, a group of Chinese organized a campaign called “Free Chen Guangcheng” and unsuccessfully attempted to visit Chen in his hometown in Dongshigu Village in Shandong Province. Many were beaten or arrested.

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Several China experts said that domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang should take responsibility for persecuting Chen and his family, and for allocating resources to block people from visiting Chen. Zhou is a member of the all-powerful ruling Politburo Standing Committee, and one of the country’s nine most powerful political leaders. Chen’s escape and flight to the U.S. Embassy is a huge embarrassment for the Communist Party and for Zhou as it exposes the abuse of justice under his leadership in the PLAC. It is an incident of extraordinary significance.

The Chinese Communist regime has persecuted many dissidents and religious followers under the banner of maintaining stability, and Zhou is in charge of all these, Bob Fu told New York-based New Tang Dynasty Television.

“The case against Chen’s family is an example of the widespread persecution of hundreds of thousands of innocent people who may have suffered even more than Chen did,” Fu said.

Some analysts said they felt that the timing of the Chen incident was opportune for Party leader Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao to take down the troublesome and powerful Zhou Yongkang with the attention of the international community being focused on the Party’s intense power struggle right now.

Current-affairs commentator Shi Da pointed out that Chen revealed to the world that the domestic security apparatus turns police into gangsters who rampantly torture innocent people. “Hu and Wen can no longer cover this up, and they have to bring Zhou to the foreground,” Shi told SOH.

According to political commentator Li Tianxiao, Hu and Wen need the people’s support to take down Zhou. Li said Chen has many supporters in China and abroad, so this is a God-sent opportunity for Hu and Wen to take action against Zhou.

“Responding to Chen’s call for an investigation can serve as a good initiative for Hu and Wen to launch a thorough investigation of Zhou and the PLAC, thereby eventually removing Zhou for good,” Li said.

via Analysts Find Blind Chinese Lawyer’s Escape Significant | Society | China | Epoch Times

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