China blames powdered formula problem on Hong Kong

On March 1st 2013, Hong Kong implemented “2-tin limit“, which outlaws the export of more than 1.8 kg (*2 tins) of powdered formula for children under 3 without a license. Mainland Chinese of all social classes lambaste Hong Kong for establishing an “evil law” against formula smugglers and not relieving their demand of foreign-made formula, and they call the city a “spoilt brat” who indulges in “one country, two systems”. Some Mainland Chinese pledge that they will take revenge on Hongkongers when China has democracy. On the other side of the border, Hongkongers are revolted by the bully of China and the Chinese propaganda machine, which stirs up anti-Hong Kong sentiment to shift the blame onto the city.

A comic from Apple Daily portrays China as a gigantic pink baby holding a gigantic feeding bottle on one hand and RMB on the other hand. Hong Kong is represented by a small baby girl, who is begging in front of China

At the expense of Hong Kong people
The following is an RTHK’s documentary on how Mainland Chinese demand for safe food and daily commodities has turned Sheung Shui into a miserable place for local residents.

Background information: Choi Yuen Plaza (16:11) was formerly a shopping centre and a wet market serving the grassroots community of Choi Yuen Estate, a public housing. Under the Link Reit, the wet market was demolished and remodelled to become an extension of the shopping centre, which is now composed of chains that serve Mainland Chinese.

Hong Kong protested against the imprisonment of  Zhou Lianhai in 2010

In Nov 2010, political groups in Hong Kong protested against the imprisonment of Zhou Lianhai, a dissident who fights for the victims of the tainted milk scandal in 2008.

Hongkongers signed the petition for the release of Zhou Lianhai on the street in Nov 2010. Source

Mainland Chinese of all classes lambaste Hong Kong


Wang Shou (the chief editor of Caixin Media): Hong Kong uses imprisonment to threaten Mainland Chinese formula-carrying clan, besides lacking conscience, the act is retarded as well. The appearance of Mainland Chinese formula-carrying clan is an accident. They do put strain on the supply of Hong Kong formula. However, it will be relieved when international milk companies re-estimate the demand of the Hong Kong market. The survival of Hong Kong is all about bridging China and the world. The management (of Hong Kong) puts a barrier on formula. This shows that its principle, conscience and intelligence have all gone. Where is the basics of Hong Kong success?


金陵客2010: [Original] I suggest dissolving the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government and implementing ‘one country, one system’

From shelving article 23 to shelving “national education”, some Hongkongers waved the British Hong Kong flag in protests, and they openly humiliate Mainland Chinese including Mainland Chinese mothers as “locusts”. And the Hong Kong government either retreated every time or did nothing. However, on the issue of “infant formula imprisonment”, Hong Kong government is actively dominating, taking bold, drastic and resolute measures. From this series of events, we can see that Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government, one of the People’s Republic of China regional governments, is the Chinese regional government that completely protects the interest and rights of Hongkongers and even Hanjians (traitors of Han Chinese)… ;It is the Chinese regional government that doesn’t protect the interest of the majority of Chinese people; It the Chinese regional government that bullies, discriminates, ignores and humiliates the interest, feeling and dignity of the majority of Chinese people; It is the Chinese government that is full of local sense and interest.

… now I suggest the central government to dissolve the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government like it did to the Tibetan regional government in 1959, cancelling Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government and implementing “one country, one system”.

Response from Hong Kong

From the editorial of the Oriental Daily (pro-China) on March 10 2013

When anti-China sentiment has appeared in recent years and Hong Kong government spreads rumours of reviewing Individual Visit Scheme, not only do Mainland Chinese not understand, criticising Hongkongers for kicking the ladder, the official organs also question whether Hongkongers are ”too lazy to earn money” because they have become rich under the support of Beijing.

The infant formula controversy is just a superficial sign of the chaotic China-Hong Kong conflict. The root of the problem is that favourable policies from Beijing don’t benefit the society equally. Not only have the grass roots not benefited from these policies, the living environment of the grass roots also has become worse. Statistics can explain the problem perfectly. According to a survey that targets young people, over the last decade, the number of Hong Kong young people who have received tertiary education has doubled. However, the median household income stays at $8,000 HKD. Including factors like inflation, it has even decreased. A survey carried out by a NGO shows that the disparity between the highest and lowest income groups has reached a 10-year high. A survey conducted by an international organisation also found that the number of millionaires in Hong Kong has surged and the number of tycoons per average population has been the highest in the world. These different surveys, besides reflecting the widened gap between the rich and the poor, also illustrate that these favourable policies from Beijing only benefit a minority of people.

Despite the fact that Individual Visit Scheme brings lots of money, it also produces many side effects: pushed up housing prices and inflation, caused shortages of daily commodities and stirred up China-Hong Kong conflicts everywhere. The 10-year-old scheme has accelerated economy integration of the two places. Yet, it only benefits interest groups. Majority of Hong Kong people suffer from the side effects of the scheme before benefiting from it. It isn’t surprising to have resistance emotion…. Hong Kong members of NPC and CPPCC are either big businessmen or retired high-ranking government officials. If they don’t belong to the former categories, they are either celebrities or children of the rich. How many of these members are from the grass roots? Interest groups composed of political entrepreneurs have been formed in recent years in Hong Kong, and this relates to lopsided policies of Beijing.

The Column of blogger 盧斯達 in March 11 2013 Apple Daily

Who should even care more about the feeling of others?

The final of World Baseball Classic was played on last weekend: Taiwan vs. Japan. In the match, a camera caught a pair of Japanese couple displaying an eye-catching cardboard, which had “Thank Taiwan for donating money in 2011.3” written on it. Japanese still remember the generous donation from Taiwan. The Taiwanese benevolence is so unforgettable that Japanese expressed gratitude again in the sport arena. The passion of the stadium and the tenderness of audiences make me feel warm.

“Thank Taiwan for donating money in 2011.3”

During Sichuan earthquake, Hongkongers also had donated lots of money and volunteered, not to mention a Hong Kong volunteer who died in Sichuan (*The volunteer died in Yushu, Qinghai in 2010 while saving students and teachers in the earthquake.) and money that had fallen into the hands of corrupted officials — Hongkongers are that sentimental. As long as Chinese compatriots are in trouble, even though there is doubt, Hongkongers are rarely too stingy to donate money. However, we seldom see Chinese remember Hongkongers’ benevolence. Ever since Hong Kong opened to trade, she has been donating money to China. Yet, Hongkongers have always been blamed for everything and are criticised daily for “kicking the ladder” by Chinese. In order to secure the food supply for local babies, Hong Kong government restricts the carrying of infant formula across the border. Chinese immediately angrily condemn that Hongkongers are “unreasonable” and threaten to “stop the supply of water and electricity” and “cancel ‘one country, two systems’”. The director of the Liaison Office, Zheng Xiaoming, even said Hong Kong government had to “care about the feeling of Chinese”. If Chinese could use this aggressive attitude to protest against the collusion between CCP and the milk industry, it would be so great

In the end, who doesn’t care about the feeling of whom? Hongkongers have been helping Chinese for so many years that… daily commodities and infant formula are all shipped to China…. Hong Kong is so chaotic these days because HongKongers have been helping too much.

…. Zheung Xiaoming dares to tell Hongkongers to care about the feeling of China. Has China care about the feeling of Hong Kong?

The Hong Kong donation campaign for the great flood of Eastern China in 1991

A line of lyric of the theme song of the campaign


In the torrent, if I were one (of the victims)

Hong Kong government kowtows under the great pressure of China and says the measure is just temporary.

24 thoughts on “China blames powdered formula problem on Hong Kong

  1. Hong Kongers are just jealous of their rich mainland masters. That must be it. Or something.

    Meanwhile these mainlanders haven’t an ounce of personal responsibility for this problem. Has a single one tried to petition the PRC gov to improve food safety?

      1. I was only being sarcastic. Every mainlander Chinese I’ve spoken with has this opinion. “HK is jealous that the mainland is so rich,” which is obviously stupid and incorrect opinion, but they keep on saying it.

    1. I’m curious to know your view. I’m not sure why you think HKers are jealous of Chinese’s wealth… If we’re jealous others’ wealth, why aren’t we jealous of rich people from other countries? Dubai, Saudi Arabia for example?

      1. Because the ethnic Chinese are too cowardly to insult other races, especially to their faces. So they do it to their own…I believe a white German said that of the mailand Chinese re: aggression towards other Chinese regions…. same can be applied here.

  2. Seems like mainlanders always think Hong Kongers owe them a lot. That’s ridiculous. What mainlanders should do, is to overdraw the Chinese Communist Party, not just blaming Hong Kongers.

  3. This is an another case of “its us vs. them” attitude. Does nationalism and ethnic pride take more precedence than resolving social problems within a society? When an individual(s) questions a government on their ways of doing things does that make them a hanjian 漢奸? When a gov’t tells me that milk is safe but when I may have personal experiences that tell me otherwise, who do think people will rely on? So, since I don’t want to be seen a 漢奸 by my gov’t; I will give questionable milk for my children to drink. Nation before family, does that have any logic? People in the Cultural Revolution thought that way, the era was literally a nightmare for all who went through it. A government serves the people interests not the other way around, well this how the Western “democracy model” thinks of it.

    I write in English because its my mother tongue and its best way to communicate my thoughts to others, this may make me a westernized “slave” but I did not choose the place where I wanted to be born and/or raised. Does this make my parents traitors for abandoning the “homeland” and raising children who are essentially whitewashed and even perhaps out marry outside the “glorious” Chinese “race”? I don’t know, but in terms of my day to day life I don’t care. People are deem worthy by their present actions and conduct and, in this case, not being an “authentic Chinese”. My grandparents believed in a “New China” and stayed after 49′, but they felt betrayed after the cruelty they experienced because their ancestors owned land. HK was seen as a safe place, my grandparents and many other migrants of that time were willing to live under a colony as “British dogs” in exchange for relative safety.

    1. It does NOT make you a “westernised slave”. So many people of Chinese origin born in white countries are disillusioned with how discriminatory whites are towards us in our own country… we look to our own eventually….although to be fair saying that you will marry another race is basically saying you are ashamed enough of your race to say that you no longer deserve for future generations to be Chinese…

      1. Eh, sorry to butt in here… but I always thought marriage was about spending the rest of your life with somebody you cared enough about, with or without starting a family. I’ll like to think I can procreate with anyone of my choosing without having to worry about whether or not I’ll be betraying my superior yellow genes in the process.


  4. I actually talked to some folks from Hebei, and they think Hong Kong throwing mainlanders in prison for smuggling baby powder is discrimination, and wrong for them to do that. When I told them that it was either imprison them, or just allow them to purchase all of Hong Kong’s supply of baby milk, he didn’t have much of a response.

  5. This can be remedied by the source (milk powder companies) organizing some sort of free or reduced shipping to China. They know the demand is high but they won’t lift a finger getting their in-demand supplies to the Mainland because they don’t want to incur shipping and tax costs.

    1. the source will be happily ship them to China if you provide the funding and the paperwork related to the shipping and tax costs getting it into China…

      I would say let mainland chinese enjoy their mainland milk powder…

  6. “Some Mainland Chinese pledge that they will take revenge on Hongkongers when China has democracy.”

    I’m sorry but I literally laughed when I read that sentence.

  7. Stumbled upon this blog only recently. Kudos to the owner for the excellent posts so far; I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your work.

    Re. this particular post: I absolutely agree with Andao and the point of personal responsibility. If food safety problems of China’s magnitude were to occur in any other part of the world, residents would have taken to the streets long ago! These hoarders, on the other hand, do nothing to pressure the local government and the relevant food safety agencies (do they even exist?!). Instead, they act like it’s their god-given right to sweep every supermarket across the world clean of baby formula, and even proceed to brag about it on Weibo. Geezers.

    My greatest sympathy to the residents of Hong Kong. Hang in there (I know it’s hard)! =(

    1. Worth pointing out that this has affected the UK as well, we are now restricted to two tubs per family, for fear of Chinese people buying them and exporting them to China. Naturally this has had the horrible side effect of British people of Chinese origin, in addition to anyone who looks east asian, to be discriminated by people, white families and storekeepers alike, giving us dirty looks.

      But still I do not blame China Chinese. Why? Because a) they have families too. Are you saying that we are worth any more or less than them? It is their baby milk industry, not them, who are at fault….well, partially…

      then there’s b) the foreign milk companies. Ever wonder why there is a shortage? It’s not exactly difficult to make… that’s right, it’s engineered. Prices are £30-£50 in China, when they are about £10 here. The foreign companies see the opportunity and are exploiting this.

      1. Certainly, it has affected not just the UK, but also the Netherlands, Germany and Australia. I believe the blog owner has posted a piece on how this formula-sweeping spree has affected all of these countries. I personally also came across an article couple of months back – apparently, somebody purchased 200 cans of formula at one go in Australia!

        I’m not suggesting that anybody’s lives are worth less than anybody else’s. But I would also refrain from feeling sorry for these poor “mummies and daddies” too soon. Besides the individual hoarders, it’s pretty obvious there’s some black market activity going on around here. I’ve got relatives in China with formula-drinking kids. They certainly don’t go round buying CARTONS of formula, like many of these reports have suggested. (And no, they don’t brag about their “shopping sprees” on Weibo either.)

        Re. the point about imported formula costing more in China than in the UK, I’m pretty sure that has more to do with import tariffs than with evil corporations trying to squeeze every last cent out of these moms and dads. (Last I checked, imported perfume, makeup and body products all cost a lot more in China than in their country of origin).

        But assuming that these bastard capitalists are at fault, how about the ingenious smugglers who take the opportunity to profit off the misfortune of their countrymen? So much for Chinese patriotism.


      2. Jeff,
        (sorry for this late reply) But you do have to blame the Chinese in this matter.
        For example, in the UK, there are dairy producers making milk formula for the people in the UK, plus foreign competitors are also allowed to sell their products there. These products are only sold after passing strict food safety regulations.
        Now, China is the world’s most populous nation. They have huge dairy producers (Mengniu, for example), but after the Sanlu tainted milk scandal, Chinese no longer trust products that are made in China. I would guess that after the Sanlu scandal, dairy producers in China cleaned up their act and/or improved things to strengthen their reputations. I don’t know if they did. I would assume someone would want to capitalise on this matter and set up a brand new, safe products company to satisfy this huge market, but no. Why not? Is it because the Chinese will never trust their own home-grown products anymore? If that is the case, why is it the fault of other countries and why is it the responsibility of others to provide safe food to China?
        It it China’s fault, no matter how you see it.
        Either food in China is made safe 100% of the time, or China has to allow foreign companies to do business in China. Simple as that. Going to New Zealand and the UK on tourist visas to buy up all the milk formula is not the answer nor the solution. But, typically Chinese, someone’s making lots of money this way, huh?

  8. Geez…this is very simple: either Chinese milk producers make better and safe milk formula for China’s huge, enormous, immense, big market, or foreign producers of milk formula go into the Chinese market to sell their products. Is it that hard?
    Why do Hong Kong people get blamed for this? Is is HK’s fault that Chinese foodstuffs for adults and babies are unsafe? No. Is it Hong Kong’s fault that foreign companies are not allowed to do business in China? No. Do Chinese just love blaming Hong Kong for all their social and economic woes? Yes.
    The idiot above using the phrase “Mainland Chinese formula-carrying clan” assumes that it’s some God-given right for Chinese people to sneak into Hong Kong and buy things that are destined for Hong Kong people…
    Stupid people do stupid things.

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