Monday, October 7, 2013

Xi Jinping's Advice for New Zealand

Last year I shared the story of a young man I met who would regularly travel from mainland China to Macau to purchase baby formula produced in New Zealand. Like many others in China, he did not trust Chinese baby formula due to a number of milk-tainting scandals. He was also not confident that the foreign formula he could could purchase in mainland China would be genuine. In a later post, I commented on the creative approach taken by a Chinese baby formula company to garner the trust of Chinese consumers through advertisements placed on far-away London buses.

So I must admit my jaw dropped a bit when I saw the Chinese news agency Xinhua had this to say about a recent meeting between China President Xi Jinping and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key:
Xi stressed that food safety concerns people's health and urged New Zealand to take tough measures to ensure food quality and thus maintain the sound momentum of economic and trade cooperation between the two countries.
As Josh Chin reported in the China Real Time Report, I was not alone in my reaction:
In a country where authorities routinely accuse other governments of casting hypocritical stones, the notion of Mr. Xi berating another country’s leader over food safety proved too much to bear for many social media users [in China].

“He should be saying this to himself,” wrote one microblogger. “How does he have the gall to say this to the New Zealand prime minister?”
For more about what prompted Xi's recommendation to New Zealand and how Chinese responded online, see Chin's full article here.

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