August 8, 2007

China´s consumer activism

In recent months, a series of product recalls, from pet food to tires, has sullied the image of Chinese exports abroad. At home, China also faces a drumbeat of complaints from consumers aghast at the harmful food and drugs approved by a graft-ridden regulatory system. Last year, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce received 4.6 million complaints over substandard products and services. While consumer activism is on the increase in China, the legal system isn't bound by precedent and is squarely under the control of the Communist Party. That makes it hard to force change from the bottom up, though not impossible. Vaccination programs in China have been dogged for years by fake or contaminated vaccines.

Over 300 children were hospitalized last year in Anhui province after receiving hepatitis A shots of dubious origins. One of the children later died. Last week, police arrested a gang in northeastern China that was selling counterfeit rabies vaccines and blood proteins, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

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