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Milk-taint sanctions hit another 8 officials

EIGHT more senior government officials have been fired or disciplined for supervisory failures that contributed to a milk scandal which left six infants dead and nearly 300,000 others ill, the Communist Party of China's disciplinary body said yesterday.

The officials who were singled out for sanctions served in the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, the ministries of agriculture and health, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce and the State Food and Drug Administration.

Wang Bubu, director-general of the law enforcement and supervision department in the quality administration, was removed from his official and Party posts. Lu Yangang, deputy director-general of SAIC's food distribution supervision department, lost his job.

The other six officials received penalties ranging from demotion to having their conduct made a part of their personnel records, according to the Party's internal anti-graft body.

In last year's milk scandal, the industrial chemical melamine was added to dairy products to increase their apparent protein content, resulting in an outbreak of kidney stones and urinary tract problems in infants across China.

The incident had "very serious consequences," and government departments and officials should draw lessons from it, fulfill their duties and take measures to enhance food safety, the disciplinary body said.

Last September, the quality administration's director, Li Changjiang, resigned, the highest-ranking official brought down by the scandal.

Communist Party chief Wu Xianguo, Mayor Ji Chuntang and Vice Mayor Zhang Fawang of Shijiazhuang City in Hebei Province, which was the base of the Sanlu Group, the company at the heart of the tainted formula, were also sacked.

The punishments have sent a strong signal about China's resolution to hold officials accountable for severe production quality incidents, said Wang Wei, a professor at the National School of Administration.

The heads of administrative bodies who fail to fulfill their duties and cause serious problems that could have been avoided face removal from their jobs and other, more severe punishments under the nation's laws.

In addition, the courts have sentenced two Sanlu employees to death for their involvement in the scandal and sent the company's former chief to prison for life.


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