|发表于: 星期五 七月 06, 2007 2:59 pm 发表主题: 有感国家药监局的贪官被判刑
From New York Times
July 7, 2007
China Sentences Official to Death for Corruption
By DAVID BARBOZA
SHANGHAI, July 6 — For the second time in three months, a former high-ranking official at China’s top food and * watchdog agency has been sentenced to death for corruption and approving counterfeit drugs, the state-run news media said on Friday.
Cao Wenzhuang, who until 2005 was in charge of * registration approvals at the State Food and * Administration, was accused of accepting more than $300,000 in bribes from two pharmaceutical companies and helping undermine the public’s confidence in an agency that is supposed to be safeguarding the nation’s health.
Mr. Cao’s sentence was handed down by the No. 1 Intermediate Court in Beijing, less than two months after the same court sentenced Zheng Xiaoyu, the former head of the Food and * Administration to death for accepting $850,000 in bribes to help steer * companies through various approval processes.
Mr. Cao, however, was given the death sentence with a two-year reprieve, a lighter penalty that may allow him to have his sentence commuted to life in prison.
But the death sentences appear to be a strong signal that China is determined to crack down on rampant fraud, corruption and counterfeiting in the nation’s food and * industries.
Four other senior food and * agency officials were also sentenced to long prison terms Thursday, including Wang Guorong, who faces life in prison, according to the state-run news media.
The harsh penalties come at a time when China is under mounting international criticism over the quality and safety of its food and drugs.
Earlier this year, China exported pet food ingredients contaminated with an industrial chemical, prompting one of the largest pet food recalls in United States history.
Later, there were worldwide recalls of Chinese toothpaste laced with the same toxic substance that in recent years was found to be responsible for the deaths of nearly 200 people in Haiti and Panama.
And last week, the United States Food and * Administration blocked imports of some Chinese seafood, including shrimp, catfish and eel, after seeing a sharp rise in the amount of Chinese seafood tainted with carcinogens and excessive antibiotic residues.
But Chinese consumers are thought to be the primary victims of fake and substandard food and drugs, and the nation’s top regulators have been blamed for putting the public at risk by swapping cars, gifts and cash for granting licenses to drugs that in some cases have turned out to be deadly.
“This is a harsh but probably necessary strategy to re-establish control over an underregulated sector,” David Zweig, a professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said of the death-sentence verdict.
The State Food and * Administration is just one of the many agencies responsible for patrolling the nation’s food and * supplies. But it is the agency that has come under the sharpest scrutiny.
In January 2006, six senior officials from the agency, including Mr. Cao, 45, were arrested at a food and * conference in Beijing, part of a sweeping investigation into corruption at the highest levels of the agency.
Zheng Xiaoyu, who helped found the agency in 1998 and resigned in mid-2005, was later arrested and tried in Beijing, where prosecutors laid out evidence showing that he and his family had accepted huge bribes and gifts in exchange for favors. He was sentenced to death in late May.
Last November, another high-ranking * agency official, Hao Heping, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for bribery.
This is not the first year * regulators have been sentenced to death. In 2002, the former director of the Zhejiang Provincial * Administration, and a close associate of Mr. Zheng, was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve.
Thus far, Mr. Zheng has not been granted a reprieve, which suggests he could be executed, which would make him one of the highest-ranking Chinese officials ever to be put to death.
Experts say the * industry has been mired in corruption for years, and that one reason is that until recently the State Food and * Administration — the country’s highest ranking * agency — was corrupted from top to bottom.
Mr. Cao and Mr. Hao had both at one time served as close aides to Mr. Zheng, the former agency director.
“The difference between Zheng Xiaoyu and Cao Wenzhuang is that Zheng damaged the credibility of the government to a greater extent,” says Wang Yigao, a professor at the Hunan Academy of Sciences. “Cao was simply executing Zheng’s ideas.”
For instance, Mr. Wang said that when Mr. Cao served as head of the registration division, it approved 14,000 drugs in three months, even though the department had only a dozen staff members.
“You can see how unconcerned they were about the life and death of people,” Mr. Wang said.
Many experts say the * regulators were overwhelmed by a fast-growing industry where entrepreneurs were eager to make blockbuster profits — quickly. And so new drugs were popping up every day.
In 2005, for instance, the state-run news media reported that the authorities banned 114,000 unlicensed * manufacturers and demolished 461 illegal factories.
China’s * industry boom also worries global * makers, who say the world is being inundated with fake and potentially deadly counterfeit drugs that are being exported from China.
Mr. Zweig at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, however, says the sentences handed down recently are more aimed at the domestic audience, which is at the greatest risk of being harmed by counterfeit or substandard drugs made in China.
“They are clearly responding to domestic pressure,” Mr. Zweig says. “These drugs are really harming the domestic sector.”
According to reports on the death sentence handed down on Friday, Mr. Cao was accused of taking bribes from two pharmaceutical companies in exchange for * approvals.
The state-run news media said the government accused Mr. Cao of approving 277 medicines, six of which were bogus, in exchange for bribes.
Although some pharmaceutical companies involved in the scandal have been shut down and some executives have been jailed, the government has said little about prosecuting the companies and officials who paid the bribes.