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Tainted milk official back in the party's good books

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 November, 2011, 12:00am

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A senior Hebei official dismissed over the melamine-tainted baby formula scandal in 2008 has returned - appearing at an important Communist Party meeting in the province, state media reports.

Wu Xianguo, former party boss of Shijiazhuang and a former member of the standing committee of the Communist Party in Hebei, appears to be the latest in a string of sacked officials returning to political roles.

According to Xinhuanet.com, the online version of the central government's mouthpiece, Wu attended the party's meeting on Friday as an observer.

He was removed from his positions for his 'leadership role' in covering up and not properly dealing with the milk scandal.

At least six babies died and more than 300,000 children suffered kidney problems after consuming the melamine-tainted milk.

Many other officials who had been disgraced for their roles in this event later resurfaced in high positions, including Li Changjiang, the former head of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, who was named deputy chairman of a national working group combatting pornography in 2009.

Wu's appearance could serve as a signal that he will return 'as a senior government official', according to Dr Chen Daoyin, an associate professor of political science at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law.

The report triggered a strong public outcry yesterday. An internet user on 163.com, a major news portal, said Wu's comeback was 'humiliating' for the tens of thousands of families with babies hurt by the tainted milk.

Over the past few years the public has been unhappy that many officials sacked over serious public incidents returned - some to major positions.

Chen said it was normal for dismissed officials to be reinstated, but people in China generally distrusted officials and the government, so they suspected that disgraced officials' returns were due to a lack of transparency in officials' appointments.

'The process of appointing officials is quite random and full of irregularities,' he said.