260 Children Hospitalized after Food Poisoning in China

September 27, 2007 Updated: September 27, 2007

Two hundred and sixty children from a kindergarten in Wuwei City, Gansu Province, were hospitalized due to food poisoning, according to a report by Xinhua News Agency published on September 21.

An employee of Shiyan Kindergarten confirmed the incident, but said the number of sick children were not as high as reported. When asked about the exact number of victims and the cause of the incident, the employee only answered, “We are not allowed to accept any interviews.” The manager of the kindergarten has been out of touch since the accident.

Wuwei City Public Security Bureau also confirmed the incident but refused to reveal any details. According to the employee who answered the phone, it would be up to “orders from above” when the details can be publicized.

The Chinese Communist Party usually categorizes food poisoning as “negative news” that should be avoided. Investigation outcomes for such incidents are not normally disclosed to the public, and people rarely find out if the officials in charge are punished. The unusually publicized report of this particular case by Xinhua News Agency has inspired suspicion that the situation is very serious.

Ma Xiaoming, a former news reporter of Shanxi Province TV Station, says this suggests the incident became so serious that the authorities were unable to cover it up. This incident affected more than 200 children and their families. The news spread quickly through their parents, hospitals, and sanitation units.

Usually, if it is able to, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) would cover up and deceive the public, says Ma. If not, it would deal with the incident in a low-key manner or emphasize how effectively the government has handled the situation, so as to claim it as their “political achievement.” The authorities, instead of seriously taking their responsibilities, are mainly concerned with how to use the incidents to gild their images, says Ma.

According to Ma, food poisonings with various levels of risk and scales have been happening in China with high frequency.

“What we see from the news are only a few of the many cases,” he says.

“Food poisonings such as the accident in the kindergarten have occurred in many other places. I have several former classmates who have informed me of food poisonings in their schools.”

As for the causes, Ma comments, “There are most likely two possibilities. The first is some people are not content with society or the authorities, so they take revenge by releasing poison into people's foods. The other possibility is that the food itself may be out-of-date, contaminated, or adulterated with extra doses of antibiotics, antiseptics, food coloring, or even toxic chemicals in the manufacturing process.”

Whichever scenario, Ma Xiaoming believes the Chinese communist regime should take the blame, because the regime has destroyed the social morality and decency in China, and has intensified social conflicts, which have resulted in numerous tragedies and calamities.

Zeng Ning, a news commentator from Guizhou Province, says that the reason behind the repeated food poisoning cases is deeply rooted in the current economic and political system.

Driven solely by economic interests, the supervising organizations pay no attention to food quality, which allows the low-quality and even counterfeit products to spread far and wide, Zeng Ning says.

Chinese residents do not have the right to be informed of, speak out against, or monitor what the authorities do. The root of the tragedies is the corruption and incompetency of the authorities, Zeng Ning says.

“Investigation outcomes are never disclosed,” remarks Zeng Ning.

“The incident usually ends without any follow up actions. The public never knows if the officials in charge are punished.”