McDonald’s, KFC Scandal Exposes Limits of Foreign Reputation for Food Safety in China

China Briefing - Tue, 07/22/2014 - 00:04

China's newest food scandal exposes the complex workings of brand reputation in China and the economic and political forces bearing upon it.

The post McDonald’s, KFC Scandal Exposes Limits of Foreign Reputation for Food Safety in China appeared first on China Briefing News.

Categories: China

Sea troubles reveal China’s foreign policy

FT China Feed - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 23:57
Beijing is no longer simply responding to prodding or provocations from surrounding states but acting on its own initiative
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Live like a Red Army guerrilla for a day

FT China Feed - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 23:40
Dubbed ‘red tourism’, China’s under-35 tourists are increasingly choosing to visit sites that glorify the Chinese Communist party
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Red tourism: Let a million Chinese bloom

FT China Feed - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 23:40
China’s newly affluent visit sites that deify Mao
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Amid Tensions in Asia, U.S.-China Military Ties Improve

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 23:33
China is seeking greater access to U.S. aircraft carriers and guidance on how to operate its own first carrier, testing the limits of a newly cooperative military relationship.
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McDonald’s, Yum Meat Supplier in China ‘Appalled’ by Allegations

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 22:31
The U.S. owner of a meat supplier in Shanghai apologized and promised a swift response Monday after McDonald's Corp. and Yum Brands Inc. suspended purchases in China in the wake of allegations it sold expired chicken and beef to restaurants.
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Heard in the Hutong: Will China’s Rise Lead to Conflict?

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 21:56
With Xi Jinping currently finishing up a trip to South America following a meeting of BRICS leaders in Brazil, China Real Time hit the streets of Beijing to find out what residents think about China’s place in the world.
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Tibetan Leader Knows Value of Taking the Long View

China Digital Times - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 21:45

At the New York Times, Ellen Barry spoke with Lobsang Sangay, head of the exiled Tibetan government in Dharamsala, about politics, sports, and his administration’s approach towards Beijing. 

Mr. Sangay likes sports. He can explain why: You win, or you lose. Then you close the book on that episode and start over. This could not be more different from the mission that he took on in 2011, when he left a comfortable life at Harvard to begin a five-year term as sikyong, the leader of the Tibetans’ exile administration. This coincided with a momentous decision by the Dalai Lama, the exiles’ head of state since 1959, to devolve his political power to the new prime minister.

Since Mr. Sangay took over, it has been difficult to close the book on anything. China, which once gave lip service to negotiations on Tibet’s status, has refused to meet with him or his representatives. Western countries are increasingly squeamish about getting involved. With the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday a year away and no clear plan for succession, anxiety has settled like a pall over Dharamsala. Some activists criticize Mr. Sangay for being too rigid with China, others for watering down Tibetan demands in an attempt to bring Beijing to the table. Meanwhile, it is his job to inspire confidence when there is little sign of progress.

Considering all this, Mr. Sangay is surprisingly even-keeled. Asked why, he says he falls back on the Buddhist notion of impermanence. He also uses what he learned as a fan of the Red Sox, during the long years before the team’s luck turned.

“There is this unfulfilled desire, unfulfilled aspiration,” he said. “That keeps you going.” [Source]

Read more about Tibet via CDT, .

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How a Burned Out Shangri-La Celebrated the Fire Festival

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 19:36
Thanks to a devastating fire six months ago, Shangri-La's center city is now a giant construction project. Yesterday, Shangri-La celebrated its Torch Festival. How? With a giant fire, of course.
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Netizen Voices: Yum Brands Scandal

China Digital Times - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 17:12

Yum Brands Inc.—the parent company that owns KFC, McDonald’s, and Pizza Hut—has faced its share of trials in a China. In 2012, Yum’s earnings took a hit after it was revealed that KFC was using chickens with excessive levels of antibiotics. Since then, as Chinese media does its part to guard the interests of a population with justified concerns about food safetyforeign chains have faced much scrutiny. Over the weekend, Shanghai-based Dragon TV (东方卫视) ran a report [Chinese] showing factory workers at a Yum supplier mixing meat as much as a year past its expiration date with fresh product, and tossing meat picked from the floor into the processor. Food regulators have since suspended operations at the plant, and both KFC and McDonalds issued apologies on their Weibo accounts. The New York Times reports:

The program, broadcast Sunday evening on Dragon TV, showed hidden-camera footage of workers at a meat-processing plant operated by Shanghai Husi Food using out-of-date chicken and beef to make burger patties and chicken products for McDonald’s and KFC. In some cases, workers were shown scooping up meat that had fallen onto the assembly line floor and throwing it back into a processing machine.

In response, the Chinese units of McDonald’s and KFC said in news releases posted from their official Sina Weibo social-media accounts that they had halted use of all products from Shanghai Husi, which is owned by the OSI Group, based in Aurora, Ill.

The Shanghai Food and Drug Administration said in a Sina Weibo post late Sunday that it had suspended production at Shanghai Husi and had begun a joint investigation with the local police into accusations that the processing plant was using out-of-date meat in its products. [Source]

CDT translates the release from McDonald’s Weibo account (@麦当劳):

麦当劳: McDonald’s takes seriously the Dragon TV report on Husi. We have issued the following statement:


McDonald’s takes seriously the Dragon TV report on Husi. At first notice, we notified all of our national stores. We have immediately stopped using all Husi meat products, and have sealed off all Husi products for safety. At the same time, the company immediately created a group to launch a thorough investigation of Husi and all companies connected to it. We will publicize the results of the investigation as soon as possible. Food safety is our top priority at McDonald’s. In order to guarantee that our customers can enjoy our products without worry, McDonald’s strictly observes national laws and regulations and related standards, and holds our suppliers to the same standards. We have zero tolerance for violations of law and regulation.

McDonald’s (China) Co. Ltd.

July 20, 2014 [Chinese source]

McDonald’s weibo assurance attracted over 4,000 user comments. Following are a few of the top-voted responses, translated by CDT:

王哲理-C: Good thing my family’s poor. We can’t afford to eat your fancy Western fast food. From now on, everyone should give up McDonald’s. If you want to eat something good, make it yourself. Health really is the most important thing.


大苑子-: Those ingredients were from a Chinese supplier. It’s Chinese people hurting themselves.


羊羽叔叔: Get the hell out of China! The food safety bureau should eat McDonald’s and KFC!


KFC’s statement attracted nearly 4,500 comments. Currently, the most discussed theme (话题) on Weibo is “#McDonald’s, KFC Supplier Exposed#” (#麦当劳肯德基供应商被曝光# )—the hash-tag has been used over 82 million times. The “hottest subject” (热门主题) is “Famous Fast-food Supplier’s Dirty Tricks,” and here are a few of the most popular comments:

银教授: I was buying a sandwich at KFC and the cashier said to me, “Sir, your coupon has expired. You can’t use it.” “Oh,” I replied, “so you know that you can’t use things that are expired?”

在肯德基买汉堡,服务员对我说:“先生,您的优惠卷已过期,不能用了。” “哦?你还知道过期的不能用?”

哑巴: Are my values off? After watching the report, I feel like McDonald’s and KFC are victims, too. The report says McDonald’s often went to Husi for inspection, but that they were duped every time by false accounts. These fast food restaurants don’t have the ability to check every batch of ingredients. They can only select large, “dependable” suppliers. And isn’t it the responsibility of the health inspection department to determine “dependability”? Does Husi also provide expired meat to restaurants in other countries?


NightMeteora: The main question is whether government inspections are perfunctory.


陈剑殛: What’s your logic? If you ate maggoty pork at a restaurant and the restaurant said “the meat was purchased at a standard market, don’t blame us, blame the government,” would you honestly blame the government?


Reuters notes a slight fall in Yum and McDonald’s shares, and quotes a young Shanghai diner with little faith in the supply chain:

McDonald’s and Yum are the top two brands by sales in China’s $174 billion fast-food market, according to Euromonitor, but face a challenge as local firms try to tempt cost-conscious diners with healthy, home-grown fare. Both companies said they are investigating the issues highlighted in the report and said that switching suppliers will cause some temporary product shortages.

News of the scare spread quickly to diners negotiating Shanghai’s lunch-hour rush on Monday.

[...] Yet Chinese consumers may already have developed a comparatively thick skin when it comes to food scandals. “Isn’t everywhere like this?” asked student Li Xiaoye, 20, eating a beef burger in a Shanghai McDonald’s outlet. “I’ll keep going because wherever I eat, the issues are all the same.” [Source]

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Video: Who Speaks on Our Behalf?

China Digital Times - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 15:08

CDT has translated a Ming’en Media (明恩传媒) video comparing the amount of public interaction allowed at hearings in China with public hearings elsewhere in the world. This video was one of three Ming’en videos that China’s censors ordered to be taken down from video hosting websites in a directive in May.

(Click “CC” on the bottom of the YouTube window to view English subtitles.)

Click here to view the embedded video.

The video is currently available on Chinese video hosting website YouKu. Also see CDT’s translation of the Ming’en Media video “Who Made Us the Proletariat?

Translation by Mengyu Dong.

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Chinese Red Cross Takes Heat for Sending Blankets to Sweltering Hainan

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 14:43
A simple donation of several thousand warm comforters, sent to typhoon-stricken victims in southern China, causes controversy.
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Twitter Suspends Tibet Propaganda Accounts

China Digital Times - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 12:11

The New York Times’ Andrew Jacobs reports on a wave of Twitter accounts spreading pro-Chinese links about Tibet and occasionally Xinjiang under randomly generated names and borrowed profile pictures.

[…] Tom Hugo seems to be well-versed in Chinese, and he evidently cares deeply about the Tibetan people, judging from the profusion of messages he has posted on Twitter in recent months: There are photographs of Tibetans in “unique exotic dress,” articles showcasing the Tibetan people’s deep appreciation for China’s governance of the region and video clips that portray happy Tibetans singing and dancing on state-run television.

“Tibetans hail bumper harvest of highland barley,” read the headline on one recent posting.

There’s only one problem with Tom Hugo’s Twitter account: It’s fake.

[…] “When it comes to Tibet, nothing that China does surprises us, but this appears to be something new,” said Alistair Currie, the media manager for Free Tibet, who says the group’s researchers have stumbled upon thousands of other Twitter accounts they believe were also created to spread pro-China propaganda. “It’s an insidious effort to change the message and muddy the waters about Tibet.”

Although there is no direct evidence to link the Chinese government to the phony accounts, the content and breadth of the effort would suggest the involvement of a state actor. […] [Source]

Some highlights from Tom and his friends follow. The linked YouTube videos were removed due to terms of service violations, and none of the MySpace profiles is active. Since Jacobs’ article was published, the accounts @tomhugo148 and @felixjames654 have been suspended: therefore, the tweets below are images and not interactive embeds.

The London-based group Free Tibet has compiled more details on the suspect accounts.

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Beijing Mounts “People’s War” Against Terrorism

China Digital Times - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 11:18

The Telegraph’s Tom Phillips reports from Yining in Xinjiang on China’s response to attacks that have killed more than 70 people in the past 10 months.

Armed troops have flooded the city centre, mounting roadblocks and metal barricades at all major intersections, and petrol stations have been sealed off with red and white metal blockades.

Bag checks are now compulsory at restaurants, shops have been ordered to close early and cars are not allowed within 650ft of schools. Yining’s civilian population has also been recruited to the “people’s war”, with thousands joining a volunteer army of “red guards” given the task of searching cars and snitching on suspect locals.

[…] Schools have introduced “anti-evil religion” classes for tens of thousands of students and staged song and dance contests featuring routines entitled Hello, Motherland!, Sing out loud about ethnic unity! and Who says our homeland isn’t great?

[…] Yining’s journalists have also joined the government’s campaign, with editors publicly pledging to engage in anti-terrorist “opinion guidance” and using their pages to build “iron walls of social stability”. [Source]

Local authorities in Xinjiang have been accused by exile group the World Uyghur Congress of “racing” each other to convict Uyghurs on terrorism and other charges. More established restrictions continue, including a ban on Ramadan fasting by officials, teachers and students.

The anti-terror campaign has been felt to lesser degrees elsewhere in China: for example, in new, super-resilient traffic barriers in central Beijing, and the rearming of some police, which has prompted safety fears after at least four fatal shootings.

Meanwhile, The Los Angeles Times’ Tommy Yang and Julie Makinen report that a string of recent bus arsons has added to public unease:

In a span of 10 days, three buses have been set ablaze in busy metropolitan areas, leaving two people dead and 72 injured. The suspects seemed to carry no political or ethnic grudges. Instead, they all are said to be isolated young men struggling with such mundane problems as money woes and lack of hope for a prosperous future.

[…] “None of them committed any crime prior to launching these attacks,” [Yang Shu, a counterterrorism expert at Lanzhou University] said. “This makes it very hard to identify who is likely to carry out the next attack as there are so many people with similar grievances in China today.”

[… With] increased security measures failing to prevent the recent arson attacks, the public is calling for additional steps to ensure the safety bus passengers. Many cities are starting to add a security officer on every bus. But Yang, the security expert, was skeptical such efforts would work.

“The cost is simply too high to have such a person on every bus in the country,” he said. “It’s better to improve our social structure to make less people face such situations in their lives.” [Source]

[Correction: this post originally misattributed the first report quoted to The Telegraph's Malcolm Moore instead of Tom Phillips.]

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China debt tops 250% of national income

FT China Feed - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 08:02
Rapid build-up of debt is of more concern than the absolute level as Beijing faces a tough challenge to sow growth without spreading financial turmoil
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5 Things to Know About the New BRICS Bank

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 04:11
Leaders of the five BRICS nations have finally put some flesh on the bones of a long-awaited plan to set up a new development bank to rival the World Bank. Here are five observations to put it in perspective.
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China’s Pink Women-Only Parking Spots Spark a Backlash

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 02:48
A shopping mall in China has sparked accusations of sexism after it recently unveiled 10 parking spots designed for women only.
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Picture China: Heat Wave, Xi Jinping in Venezuela, Typhoon Rammasun

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 02:05
The day's China news in pictures: The country's national meteorological center issues a yellow warning alert for heat, Xi Jinping arrives in Venezuela for an official visit, Typhoon Rammasun hits southern China and more.
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Wong Kar-wai Lends Star Power to Alibaba Entertainment Push

Wall Street Journal China Real Time Report - Mon, 07/21/2014 - 01:57
As Alibaba Group pushes further into the world of entertainment, the Chinese e-commerce giant’s film unit is enlisting a cast of popular Asian filmmakers to collaborate with.
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