There have been a number of product safety scandals in China. In a recent case, dodgy companies sold medicine capsules made with industrial gelatine, which contains far more chromium than the edible gelatine they should have used. Exposure to chromium can cause serious organ damage. While selling medicines which are supposed to save lives, those companies instead betrayed their consumers and put them in danger. Their unscrupulous behaviour is bitterly disappointing.
The mainland's reputation is seriously poisoned by these product scandals. Global confidence in the 'Made in China' label has been shattered. Also, there is a negative impact on Hongkongers' sense of belonging.
Both the central and Hong Kong governments are trying to improve unity between Hong Kong and the mainland. Civic education is meant to achieve this goal. However, it is not effective. Making Hongkongers proud of our motherland is also important. How can we stand up and say 'we are Chinese' if 'Chinese' implies selfish, immoral and unscrupulous?
Karen Chan Chau-kuen, Tsuen Wan Government Secondary School
From the Editor
Thank you for your letter, Karen. This whole issue of safety is a fine balancing act, and one that often raises its head in political arguments. There's a very good English expression: 'yer pays yer money and yer takes yer chances.' That means that sometimes you are not sure of the quality of something you buy. If you buy cheap goods you are likely going to end up with rubbish. Of course the moral side of that argument is that the manufacturer takes full responsibility for ensuring that their product is completely safe.
Somewhere in reality, though, we have economics. People buy the cheapest ingredients to offer their products at the lowest cost but still maintain a profit. Safety tests cost money. Someone has to make the decision as to where to draw the line. Someone has to say 'No, you cannot have drugs this cheaply because you might get cancer later on'. I'd be interested to hear who our readers think that should be.