Mon, Jul 02, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Poisionous trail leads right back to China

By Kengchi Goah 吳耿志

At this writing, consumer goods, ranging from toothpaste to cough suppressant medicine containing poisonous diethyleneglycol have been uncovered in four Central American countries, Singapore, Australia and the US.

More than three months ago, contaminated pet food containing toxic protein enhancer resulted in the deaths of many pets. On June 11, Wal-Mart and Tyson Food Co recalled 450,000kg of ground beef. On June 14, Colgate-Palmolive Co issued a warning about counterfeit toothpaste carrying the Colgate label found in four US states. All these incidents have one thing in common -- the source of poison was China.

In November 2002, the SARS epidemic broke out. On March 15, 2003, the WHO issued a global alert about the disease, which originated in Guangdong, China. At the time, scientists suspected the disease was caused by a biogenesis from a wild animal.

In the years since then, doubts about the hypothesis of the transmission from animals to humans began to surface. Some experts said the disease may have been a biochemical reaction at the fundamental genetic material level ?? the rearrangement of human genes in chromosomes caused by industrial pollutants.

Over the past two decades, China has completely abandoned its previous economic policy and pursued socio-capitalism at the expense of its environment and social ethics. As a result, many of its major cities lead the list of the worst polluted cities in the world; 25 percent of deaths in China are caused by respiratory diseases.

Blatant disregard of intellectual property rights is rampant in China. Counterfeit medicine and food stuffs are produced and sold under the eyes of Chinese Communist Party officials.

China has been trying to regain its nationalistic glory by imitating Western approaches to both economic development and military expansion. However, misguided fanaticism, for instance showing off its military capability by knocking down an orbiting space object, will not earn China the respect it seeks. At the same time, the image emanated by a toxic trail circling the globe will earn China nothing but disrespect.

As for Taiwan, given the painful memories of the SARS epidemic, it is highly advisable for the government and the people to seriously consider cutting back existing and possible future ties with China. The risk of any contact with China is too high.

A temporary gain in any shape or form is not worth risking one's health or one's life.

Kengchi Goah is a research fellow of Taiwan Public Policy Council in the US.

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