Li Fangping, a prominent human rights lawyer, is busy organizing victims of the poisoned infant formula scandal rocking China and offering pro bono help. But he is not planning to sue Sanlu, the formula manufacturer – not yet.
A case that in the United States would attract swarms of lawyers eyeing the prospect of millions of dollars in damages is primarily a political, not legal, issue in China.
For reasons to do with China’s still-developing law and its authoritarian political system, lawyers are treading carefully around the Sanlu incident, in which four babies have died and nearly 53,000 suffered kidney problems after drinking adulterated powdered milk.
The government is seeking to forestall legal repercussions by pledging free medical care for all babies affected by the tainted milk. Mr. Li is holding his fire until he sees how fully that pledge is kept.
“We are still waiting to see how the government’s compensation policy works,” he says. “If consumers accept it there will be no need for a lawsuit” against Sanlu.