Still, the new scandal and the Bo case derive from a single cultural cause.
A few days ago, the state announced that it has detained 54 suspects, shut down 80 "illegal production lines" and seized 77 million gelatin capsules used for prescription drugs, all of them heavily contaminated with chromium, a carcinogen. The pubic security ministry added that it is "paying top-level attention to the case of excess chromium in capsules for medical use."
How did this happen? For several years, the government has been pushing health-care companies to lower costs. So pharmaceutical manufacturers picked up a new strategy: They began using far cheaper industrial gelatin, normally used to make glue for shoes.
This comes barely a year after
Looking at these and so many other similar cases -- like the milk spiked with chemicals that caused infants still in the crib to begin growing breasts -- you might choose to accept a charitable explanation.
"Gullible America" will "swallow huge quantities of alcohol, an appalling amount of opiates and narcotics, a wide
assortment of varied drugs ranging from powerful and dangerous heart depressants to insidious liver stimulants; and, in excess of all other ingredients, undiluted fraud,"
That certainly plays a part. But there's another, institutional problem:
No, it's not my intention to besmirch 1.35 billion Chinese. Certainly, many do try to be honest -- even if it puts them at a disadvantage. But the state holds so many selfish, deceitful people that they have given the entire country an ugly reputation.
For example, a Chinese social-networking site's recent survey of college students found extensive cheating among those applying to American colleges. At least 70 percent of application essays are ghostwritten, the survey found. Transcripts are falsified. Better-educated substitutes are hired to take Scholastic Aptitude and English-language tests.
Many Chinese newspapers and magazines, the
Accidents like this are commonplace. In fact,
The Lancet, a British medical journal, published a despairing piece about needless Chinese deaths on the roads. It notes that government figures on traffic deaths grossly underestimate the problem -- admitting to less than half the accidents -- and concludes that "until the Chinese government is honest with its people, and with itself," the problem won't be solved.
How does all this dishonesty, this cheating, relate to Bo Xilai, his wife the accused murderer and their profligate son? Bo, it has been disclosed, is worth at least
But then Hurun Report, which chronicles the lives and foibles of
Millions of ordinary Chinese are fed up. "I have no choice but to buy foreign brands,"
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