China: Media Manipulation on the Poisonous Milk Powder Scandal

When the poisoned milk scandal goes from bad to worse and raises international concerns, China government started to increase their control over the media in China. As the scandal involved most well established brands like Yili and Mengniu, ordinary people like Boyue feel that there is nothing else can we believe in.

Indeed, the situation is very depressing especially when the government prefers to manipulate the media than encourage public monitor to safeguard people's lives. beta disclosed the details of newsroom instruction notes:


Employees in the China Central Television said they received notice last Friday saying that they should only use news release from Xinhua News. Some reporters said they did receive notice asking them not to report comments and news related to children's kidney stone cases due to the poisoned powdered milk products.

Fu Rui-Lon criticized how the government controls the media:

” 三鹿毒奶粉案”延烧至9月15日,中宣部一声令下,紧急刹住了全国各家新闻媒体的深入揭批毒奶粉的热潮,连前两天高调批评这起丑闻的中国官方喉舌新华社, 也都取消了批评的语气,转为高调表扬”毒奶粉案”所涉及的各职能部门…一场涉及成千上万个家庭的惨祸,坏事变好事,活生生的转变为党和政府各部门、各级领导身先士卒的光荣模范事迹…都说”多难兴邦”,我认为应该精确理解成”老百姓多难,共产党兴旺”。

The “Sanlu poisonous milk scandal” attracted more and more attention until the Central Propaganda Department gave strict orders on 9/15 to stop all Chinese media to report and investigate this scandal. Xinhua News, which is a mouthpiece of China government, shifted from a critical tone of voice to more positive reports and eulogy for the government departments’ effectiveness in dealing with this scandal…This is a tragedy for hundred of thousands families. However, the sad story is being transformed into a happy story–what we hear now are honorable stories about those leaders and people working in the government…There is a proverb “after disasters a country will be stronger.” I think this proverb should be understood as “when the citizens are suffered from disasters, the Communist Party of China becomes stronger and stronger.”

Lianyue worried that the situation will become worse and worse if China government keeps tolerating these corrupted corporations.


In addition to the Sanlu Group, the Yili Group is reported to have melamine in their products in Hong Kong. However, there is no comment from China government or Chinese companies yet…Food and pharmaceutical products made in China have very bad reputation. However, all the bad news are dealt by spreading eulogy of the government and blocking reports harmful to the government. These corporations do not care about public safety any more when the government tolerates their wrong doings again and again…After Sanlu's scandal spread out, the government focuses on shutting the media and citizens up and prevent us from monitoring the government and corporate sectors, which only helps escalate the system crisis. If the system survives today, it will soon face bigger and bigger crisis until the whole system falls down.

On Sept 16, China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) found out that among 491 batches of products produced by 109 companies they have checked, 69 batches of milk powder products produced by 22 companies were contaminated by melamine in varying degrees (you can find the names of these companies at the end of this article). Two among these 22 companies are very well-known in China: the Yili and Mengniu Groups.

Chinaretail News reported:
Contaminated products found in the tests include baby milk powder products produced by Shijiazhuang Sanlu Group, Shanghai Panda Dairy, Qingdao Shengyuan Dairy, Shanxi Gu Cheng Dairy, Jiangxi Guangming Yingxiong Dairy, Baoji Huimin Dairy, Inner Mongolia Mengniu Dairy, Torador Dairy Industry (Tianjin), Guangdong Yashili Group, Hunan Peiyi Dairy, Heilongjiang Qilin Dairy, Shanxi Yashili Dairy, Shenzhen Jinbishi Milk, Scient (Guangzhou) Infant Nutrition, Guangzhou Jinding Dairy Products Factory, Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group, Yantai Ausmeadow Nutriment, Qingdao Suncare Nutritional Technology, Xi'an Baiyue Dairy, Yantai Leilei Dairy, Shanghai Baoanli Dairy, and Fuding Chenguan Dairy.


  • Chinese

    I live in China for many years and I love this country. I know recently years China faces a lot of problems, but I hope that people all over the world be more tolerant with this emerging country. She is growing and she needs time to cope with what is going on in the world.Sometimes she may make mistakes, but she just tries to do everything well, so please be patient and generous.I believe in my country, my government and our people

  • ifan

    Hi Chinese, (–>refers to the one who left message before this one)

    Usually people do not care media manipulation in other countries. For example, it should be Chinese to decide if you want to tolerate media manipulation or not, and you do not need to ask other people to “tolerate” it.

    In this case, people in other countries may care about media manipulation in China because the contaminated milk powder affects other countries, not just China. If media manipulation in China will deepen this problem, we care, and we may not want to tolerate this problem. We want to help solve this problem to avoid people to be sick due to unsafe food, and this is our way to be friend with China.

  • […] caused enormous public outrage in China and around the world, particularly after claims about the media's manipulation of the scandal. Bloggers in Southeast Asia and Africa expressed concerns about the safety of […]

  • Dear ifan,

    To be quick, I will assume you are right when you say, “…it should be Chinese to decide if you want to tolerate media manipulation or not…” Do you mean to say, “Only the Chinese people should really care if the gov. manipulates our media.”? Are you saying that China’s media manipulation is not the business of foreigners? Ok, I will pretend you are right… for this argument.

    Here is the problem. The Chinese people do care about media manipulation. Many Chinese do care but if the government controls what is said and not said, how will other Chinese TRULY know if other Chinese are also interested in the same topic? If the government controls the media, how can the Chinese people freely share their voices?

    Please look at the very sad earthquake example. (I was in Henan at the time, I feel bad for all of China) The Chinese government let the people speak at first. But when the Chinese people got mad about the poor quality of the school buildings, the Chinese Government silenced the criticism because the local government allowed companies to build bad buildings. MANY Chinese people cared but the government did not allow them to talk. Many Chinese people protested, but the government silenced the news.

    That is the problem.

    I love China. I love the Chinese people. And I want the Chinese people to have the best life possible. No government is perfect. It does not matter if the government is hundreds of years old like in England or 59 years old like in China, the people need to have the freedom to criticize and improve the government.

  • ifan

    Hi Zhe,

    I agree with you about looking after each other as long as we live together on the same planet.

    On the other hand, I embraces the self determination theory and prefers to think that all human beings are able to determine their own future.

    As you said, no government is perfect. However, I do not think it is responsible to say, “the government is doing something, so we cannot do something.” We can always do something to change the condition if we think it is important to us.

    If a person does not sweat over what he or she wants to achieve, not many people will spare their time to help.

    As a Global Voice author, I report what people talk about on internet. For example, some Chinese people cared about the media manipulation problems in China, so I helped them spread the words. On the other hand, if Chinese people did not think this is a big deal, there would not be many people noticing what happened, because media manipulation is always very minute.

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