Dairy Industry Crisis: What Does A Better China Need?

By linduyichu (from image.baidu.com)

Mrs. Zhu lived with her husband and her 3-year-old son in Beijing. The little toddler hadn’t drunk any made-in-China powdered milk since he was born. All of his powdered milk was from a Netherlands-based company, Friesland-Campina, which was only sold in Hong Kong. During the past three years, his parents travelled all the way to Hong Kong, the city 1224.9 miles away from Beijing every several months, only to buy some bottles of the Netherlands-made milk products, or asked people who went to Hong Kong to purchase for them. Mrs. Zhu complained the high costs of shopping like this, but since she doubted the quality and safety of the milk powder products made in China, (seemly she even didn’t trust the foreign brands sold in mainland) she felt she had to do so.

I read this story from a news website, and then I searched online and found out that purchasing foreign brand milk powder from abroad is now a kind of a phenomenon among Chinese young mothers. It’s not just Mrs. Zhu’s one case.

Since the melamine tainted milk incident first brought the food safety of milk out of the surface, and was widely covered by the both domestic and international mainstream media in 2008, Chinese consumer’s trust on “made-in-China” dairy products, especially the ones for infants, has been vanishing. But Chinese consumer’s grudge against dairy industry is not from the bad memory of two years ago, but also from a similar safety issues occurred recently:  some rumors spread widely online by blog posts and news reports, saying that the milk products for children and infants, produced by two Chinese dairy giants, Yili Group and Synutra International, lead to kids’ premature sexual development, even the growth of breasts. The rumors had a huge negative impact on the two dairy companies, whose stock price immediately plummeted, but then it turned that the rumor was themed by another Chinese dairy company-also the largest one-Mengniu Group through PR agents, to revenge a similar smear planned by Yili and targeted at Mengniu in 2003.

The rumors have been clarified, but the negative impact on Chinese consumers cannot easily go away. Mengniu hoped that the smear could make its competitors crash down, but it didn’t realize that the negative information like this would also frighten the consumers, and bring shame on the whole dairy industry.

From image.baidu.com

But that is not the most important part. What really matters is not about the unethical company, or the ill-regulated market, or the fierce business competition, or the powerful PR manipulation with a wrong purpose. What really matters is how the dairy companies, or I should say the whole food industry in China, treats the consumers: the companies who produces food for the whole society don’t care the people they service. The only thing they care is the money-how to maximize the profits, how to enlarge the market, how to beat the enemies, and how to make people willing to pay for the products. The Chinese consumers-millions of young mothers, millions of innocent infants and millions of individual families-are just their tool to achieve the business goal, that’s why those companies could add toxic ingredient in spite of the life of millions of infants, that’ way those companies could use the rumors concerning millions of children’s growth as a weapon to fight against each other.

What a shame.

I read many reports, editorials and blogs about this smear scandal. Chinese experts and media generally urge that the business competition should be moderate and the industry giants should be trustworthy, while in the Western eyes this is just another case of the unregulated China. But for me, I feel like it is the time for the whole dairy industry to really take care of their consumers, those infants and toddlers who could not healthily grow up without good quality milk products, those mothers who love their kids so much that any illness the kids suffering could break their hearts, and those families which may lose the happiness and peace forever if their kids have any severe damage, rather than to focus less on coming up with another round of PR activities to save its own reputation.

A booming economy is supposed to lead to a better society, a society is surrounded by loves and cares, a society that people trust and respect each other. But our economy has been focusing too much on the rapid growth and has forgotten its mission to build a better society.

Let’s slow down the pace. Let’s retrieve the situation by facing the problems and solving them, rather than covering the mistake. Let’s pick up the oldest moralities that were inherited from our ancestors, to love, to care and to respect. Let’s promise not only a rich China, but also a better China.

China Vs America

It is an interesting way to compare China with United States. See a graphic made by mint.com.

It shows that the government revenue in China is much lower than in United States. Maybe that is one of the reasons why corruptions widely happen in China. When government officials cannot be satisfied from their salaries, their political power becomes more useful, especially in a society that the legal supervision system hasn’t be developed yet.

We can also see that the industrial productions growth rate in China is much higher than in the United States. But China’s electricity, oil and natural gas productions are all lower than America’s. It means China should pay more attention to its energy industry, which are the foundation of the whole society.




Hard to Live in Big Cities

Source: Daqing Daily

The housing price in China surged at its fastest pace in recent 5 years in March. It is good news for real estate developers and brokers, but bad news for home buyers, especially the ones in big cities. Daqing Daily reported that some home buyers in Beijing were enraged by the inordinately increased home price. They protested against it by stopping a developer’s car, after they got the news that the price of two condos they were looking for rose RMB 4000 per square meter, or $54 per square feet in a single day.

Buying a condominium in Beijing or Shanghai is far beyond middle-income class can afford, considering the housing price and their salaries: the median sales price of a condo in Beijing and Shanghai is RMB 20,000 per square meters, or $286 per square feet. At this price, it will cost $286,000 for a two-bedroom condo with 1,000 square feet. This is a huge amount for the middle-income class in China, whose average salary is only around $10,000 per year.

But people are still moving into, or trying to stay in big cities, especially those ambitious young generations. As far as I know, most of my classmates chose to stay in Beijing after their graduation. “Other people will regard me as a failure if I go back to my hometown rather than working in Beijing”, said one of my classmates, before leaving the collage.

Many young college graduates like her are called “ant group” by Chinese media recent years. They share apartments with others to cut living costs. They transfer from the residence to the company, spending 2 to 4 hours on overcrowded buses and subways every day. They live in poor life, but holding the dream of becoming success in the big city-that is also the reason they choose to stay.

Source: Legal Evening, Lin Hui, (法制晚报林晖/CFP)

I came across with this news photo the other day. The 25 year-old girl in the photo is living in a capsule apartment in downtown Beijing. The apartment is called a capsule because of its tiny size-only 100 square feet, without private kitchen or bathroom, only big enough for a twin size bed and a small table. The capsule house is rented $30 to $36 each month, much lower than the other apartments, that’s how it attracts people.

I have no idea how it feels when living in a 100 sq ft apartment, but it must be terrible. I think maybe it is the time for ambitious Chinese young men to turn and walked away from the big cities. They deserve a much better life in their twenty or thirty. They should enjoy the life as well as explore their career, both of which are equally important for the short journey of the life and could be easily achieved in a middle city.

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