Christian Living

chinaconnection 01/22/09

Judgment Day for Chinese Dairy Companies

The 21 dairy producers hoping for a lenient sentence were severely disappointed today.  A Chinese court sentenced two men to death, and gave other sentences ranging from life in prison to lengthy jail terms./span>

According to the court, the defendants intentionally distributed melamine-laced milk, which sickened over three hundred thousand infants and killed at least six last year.  /span>

Melamine is a chemical often added to food products to give them the appearance of extra nutrition, even though the compound is insoluble by humans.  As a result, parents who thought they were feeding their babies with nutritious formula were really depriving them of nutrients./span>

Not surprisingly, this scandal has gone a long way towards arousing the wrath of the Chinese and international public, and Chinese courts have efficiently determined the fate of many who were arrested.  /span>

While what these men and women did should be a criminal offense, I wonder about the case of Tian Wenhua, the Sanlu dairy executive who did not stop the distribution of tainted milk powder.  If I were a parent of one of the children affected by that negligence, I would want her punished to the full extent of the law. /span>

At the same time, I wonder about the political pressure that she was under.  She became aware of this situation shortly before the Olympics, at a time when Chinese leadership wanted to present the best possible face to the world.  If she were to break the news at that time to save lives of these babies, she would have almost definitely been fired.    /span>

Does this personal dilemma excuse her role in injuring hundreds of thousands of infants?  Of course not.  If she were tried in a U.S./st1 :country-region> court, the outcome probably would not be any different.  Ironically, had she gone public with the information earlier, she would have had a much happier ending than a $3 million fine and life in prison.   /span>

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