Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao, has taken the rare step of saying the government has some responsibility for the poisoned milk scandal.
The government feels “great sorrow” over the crisis which has sickened more than 50,000 children, Wen said in an interview published in this week’s Science Magazine.
“We feel that although problems occurred at the company, the government also has a responsibility,” Wen said in the Sept. 20 interview posted on the website of the magazine, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
A Chinese version of the interview in the Communist Party’s People’s Daily newspaper quoted Wen as saying the government had been especially lax in “supervision and management.”
“We will handle the incident sincerely and seriously, and draw deep lessons from it,” said Wen, who has won the admiration of ordinary Chinese citizens for his visits to the country’s poor rural areas and for rallying victims of the devastating May 12 earthquake in Sichuan province.
This is a big admission from the leader of a country which rarely admits the government makes mistakes.
But I don’t expect his contrition to extend to an acknowledgement that a lack of media freedom exacerbated the problems because the scandal was not widely publicised until long after the link between infant formula and babies becomeing ill was known.