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PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 September, 2013, 2:48am

A friendly reminder to Wang Guangya after criticism of milk powder policy

Alice Wu says that Wang Guangya needs reminding about 'one country, two systems' following his criticism of our milk powder policy

It's only fair to return the favour of friendly reminders that the director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, Wang Guangya, purportedly gave to a group of Hong Kong political appointees.

Wang reportedly hinted at Beijing's displeasure over Hong Kong's handling of the baby formula issue, urging the delegation to improve their political sensitivity when it comes to policies that affect the mainland. At first glance, it seems a sensible - and friendly - reminder, since political sensitivity, communication and impact assessment are all part of the policymaking process.

But if we recall what Wang said two years ago - only one of a series of controversial statements he has made as head of the affairs office - we can't help but be stumped. In 2011, Wang provocatively chastised the Hong Kong civil service for knowing only how to "listen to the boss", with no mind of its own. Yet, two years later, Hong Kong officials apparently did not listen hard enough to "the boss".

Under "one country, two systems", the politics of who's the boss is complex, to say the least.

One might argue that the formula restrictions were imposed precisely because, under "one country, two systems", special administrative regions cannot "meddle" in the affairs of the mainland - a state of affairs Wang heartily approved of when he said in December 2010 that "Well water [Hong Kong] should not intrude into river water [mainland China]".

Wang's comment was targeted at the Hong Kong critics of the mainland's imprisonment of milk activist Zhao Lianhai. The scandal of China's melamine-laced milk was, of course, the real cause of formula restrictions around the world. It is mainland China's inadequate food safety policy that has caused the collapse in consumer confidence, forced people to seek food for their babies outside the mainland, made parallel trading lucrative, and allowed suppliers to take advantage of the shortages.

Wang's show of displeasure might have been better directed at mainland food safety officials.

By contrast, Hong Kong's baby formula restriction is, in fact, a textbook case of good policymaking. Given the political parameters, the fact that supply shortages were threatening local babies' health, and the growing public discontent, it was one of Hong Kong's most targeted and effective policies in years.

After all, didn't Wang warn that livelihood issues could become political problems if they weren't handled properly? The formula shortage was clearly a livelihood issue. One could say Hong Kong was heeding his advice.

It would be nicer still if Wang were to be reminded of an earlier time when the "well water, river water" proverb was used in the context of "one country, two systems". In December 1989, then president and party general secretary Jiang Zemin pointedly noted, in a meeting with a special envoy of the British prime minister, that the expression was often misunderstood. Well water should not pollute river water, and river water should not pollute well water, the full expression goes. In other words, it works both ways. Wang should remember that.

Alice Wu is a political consultant and a former associate director of the Asia Pacific Media Network at UCLA

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stephaniek
a good piece!
tobychun
What rubbish! It was a typical HK Government knee jerk reaction policy that had no grounding in common sense or actual reality. Outside of a few locations relatively close to the Shenzhen border, milk powder is and always was available in abundance. I doubt many local people were affected by this at all, ever!
lokuohsiung
Speaking of knee jerk reactions lacking in common sense or reality... Just how many infants do you have, tobychun? And where were you buying your milk formula? The Peak?
blue
Nice work totally exposing this guy
ssslmcs01
Well put
hard times !
quite a brilliant essay written by Ms Alice Wu indeed ! She clearly points out the contradictory remarks made by our director of Hong Kong & Macau Office,Mr.Wang Kwangya who happened to be ignorant of the cruel fact that the huge import of foreign milk powder/baby formula was/is due to the poor quality of milk powder produced on Mainland itself which has made the babies'parents there lost confidence in their local products. Mr.Wang,instead,should vent his anger at the food safety officials on Mainland and the high tax levied on imported milk powder, not to say even when geniune/original foreign baby formula/milk powder is directly exported to Mainland, it will be mixed with cheaper milk powder so as to grab more profits.
Dao-Phooy
Author's comments spot on!
321manu
"Wang's show of displeasure might have been better directed at mainland food safety officials."
---'nuff said. Wang is just another in the long line of old CCP gas-bags with an over-abundance of hot air.
Byebye
Good reminder to Mr Wang Guangya.
ejmciii
How can HK people challenge the wisdom of the masters in Beijing? That is not harmonious at all. The are the lords of the manor. One nation, two systems means that they rule and tell us what to do but we can tell ourselves that we rule ourselves.
Camel
I missed the information that you are actually HKnese.... How about give up your passport and become a Chinese Citizen? Then you can say "we".
 
 
 
 
 

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