China’s Wen Vows to Make ‘Made in China’ Brand Safe

In light of the numerous food safety incidents in recent years, China’s Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has made promises to ensure the safety of the “” label. From AFP:

China has been struggling to contain the scandal, with countries around the world rushing to ban or restrict its dairy products.

“It’s not just food or dairy,” Wen said at a World Economic Forum event in the northern city of Tianjin, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

“We will make the entire ‘Made in China’ brand worry-free and reputable for both the Chinese and the people across the world.”

The government’s plans to subsidize dairy production might be one step in that direction.

From Xinhua:

China will subsidize loans to dairy producers in an effort to promote raw milk purchases following the tainted milk powder scandal.

Lending costs from October to December will be reduced by 3.1 percent, or half of the six-month lending rate, the Ministry of Finance said on Saturday.

The move aims to help dairy farmers recover losses.

[…]The ministry also want to restore confidence in the dairy industry.

But is it enough to restore public confidence? One report from the LA Times covers various reactions to the milk scandal, including those of a more patriotic bent:

Previously, many here had shrugged off complaints about Chinese-made products as China-bashing or hysteria by spoiled Western consumers. But the baby milk crisis has hit home in a way that other scandals did not. Some people even acknowledged (with embarrassment since it goes against their sense of patriotism) that they are going out of their way to look for products not made in China.

“The inspection of foreign products is stricter. The regulations are better,” said Qiao Ningxia, a 30-year-old Beijing resident who breast-fed her son for a year before switching to imported formula. “Our laws are not properly developed. If you pay, you can get away with things.” Like many Chinese, Qiao despairs that her country’s new-found wealth has not made people healthier.

“When I was young, we didn’t have as much food, but everything we ate was organic. The children were healthier then,” said Qiao, pointing to her son, now 3, who was wearing a white mask over his mouth because of a chronic cough. The mother and son were visiting the Capital Institute of Pediatrics, where other parents had brought their babies to be tested for kidney problems.

It remains to be seen how and when Chinese manufacturers will establish strong brand trust.

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