Resolving the China Infant Formula Crisis

Just thinking about the recent happenings in Hong Kong, Australia, the Netherlands, and so many places, it seems that it’s mainly Hong Kong people and mainland Chinese debating what should be done. And I too have spent some time asking myself, Are the newly-imposed restrictions on taking Hong Kong infant formula out the best way to combat such a problem? Are Hong Kong people being over-sensitive? Are mainland Chinese being over-sensitive? Is either side in the wrong, and if so, how much? (and so on.)

But when it all boils down to what’s at the core, I think the real issue about this doesn’t necessarily involve questions like,

Should Hong Kong not restrict trade? Are Hong Kong people “jealous” of mainland Chinese and discriminatory against them? Do mainland Chinese downright lack ethics? Is this evidence that mainland Chinese are coming to dominate Hong Kong little by little?

I feel that the real issue that must be handled isn’t the amount of infant formula produced or supplied to European countries, Australia and New Zealand, Hong Kong, and so forth. What has really prompted all these mainland Chinese to purchase infant formula from abroad is the lack of trust in and overall lack of integrity of the Chinese government: the inability of those residing in the People’s Republic of China to trust the government, and believe that infant formula is really safe when it says so. And so while this issue has affected so many worldwide, sure, short-term solutions include arbitrarily restricting purchases of infant formula to mainland Chinese-looking people and creating laws to appease Hong Kong people who feel threatened by the mainland Chinese presence.

However, I think that in the long-run, this is a problem for the Chinese government to tackle. We can blame everything on mainland Chinese people’s “indecency” and mainland Chinese can blame everything on discriminatory Hong Kong people, but in essence, I think that mainland Chinese are displacing (and misplacing) their insecurities about the Chinese government’s standards on Hong Kong people. I do not know if the Chinese government has been trying to do anything about this, but it should. Because there’s a problem when so many people are looking elsewhere to foreign countries for infant formula and buying them in bulk even when there is infant formula in China itself, and there furthermore is foreign infant formula in China. I didn’t really start reading into Hong Kong news (and snippets Chinese news) until recently, but I do remember hearing of a Chinese milk scandal where some ~300,000 babies were affected and a few died. Mainland Chinese must have really come to distrust the government’s food safety standards to go to such lengths in trying to obtain infant formula not only from neighboring Hong Kong, but only-accessible-by-airplane Europe and Australia: they would have to not only distrust Chinese-made infant formula, but also foreign infant formula sold in China in order to see a need to stockpile foreign infant formula directly purchased in foreign countries.

I know that my thoughts on how to resolve the China infant formula crisis (as I called it in my title) are simple-minded, but I just wanted to step away from all that’s happening right now and talk about what directly triggered such actions by some mainland Chinese. I don’t think I’ve read a single article or comment from a mainland Chinese person recently that discusses what the Chinese government could do about this issue.

Just like this blog, I know that this likely won’t reach many people, but I just wanted to say this on the Internet. So that if anyone ever came to think about this issue, or Hong Kong, or Cantonese, or whatever I write about on this blog, this would be available somewhere for whoever was interested (provided they could find it). And also, just so that I couldn’t say that I didn’t try.

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One thought on “Resolving the China Infant Formula Crisis

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