Head Of Chinese FDA Sentenced To Death For Taking Bribes

China scares the crap out of us. From Reuters:

China sentenced the former head of the State Food and Drug Administration to death for corruption, state media reported on Tuesday, in an unusually harsh sentence which could be reduced on appeal.

Corruption and food safety have preoccupied Chinese leaders as they grapple with the fallout overseas after a series of scandals involving toxins in food and other products.

Zheng Xiaoyu was convicted on charges of taking bribes and dereliction of duty, Xinhua news agency reported, citing the the Beijing Municipal No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court.

Zheng, 62, headed the watchdog agency from 1998 to 2005 but was expelled from the ruling Communist Party earlier this year after investigators said he abused the administration’s approval powers to obtain bribes and win illegal profits from drug companies.

You don’t want to be the fall-guy in a Communist country. Forgive us if we don’t think killing the former head of the Chinese FDA is really going to solve the problem. Not that we could say that in China and get away with it. Terrifying. —MEGHANN MARCO

‘Death sentence’ for China ex-official [CNN] (Thanks, Alan!)
China’s former food and drug chief sentenced to death [Forbes]
(Photo: amyadoyzie)


Edit Your Comment

  1. zentec says:

    In a twisted cynical way, I think we need to adopt just a sliver of communist principles when dealing with government corruption.

  2. B says:

    Punishing a chinese offical for taking bribes is like giving out speeding tickets in the Indy 500. Taking bribes is a way of life over there. That being said, it would be a wonderfully ironic* if they carried out the sentance by force-feeding him tainted dog food.
    *actually not ironic at all.

  3. Anonymously says:

    “Bribery” is China’s #1 trumped up charge, or so I’ve been told.

  4. Wormfather says:

    Oh crap, I mean as much as I love my capitalisim, when a communist country wants to make a statment, damn they make a statment.

    They may be the only country that has a good deterent for jaywalking.

  5. gundark says:

    Too bad Enron wasnt based in China.

  6. scoobydoo says:

    If they had the same standards here in the US, we’d have nobody left in the government.

  7. Crazytree says:

    @scoobydoo: Except for Ron Paul, according to the internets.

  8. MalichiDemonos says:

    Forget jail time… just kill him.
    Let me guess… murder gets you 4-8 years but bribery gets you death. Makes since.

  9. Chicago7 says:

    Or running red lights, Wormfather, which is much more dangerous.

  10. shoegazer says:

    I wonder if they execute by guillotine? “Former head” indeed!

    The problem is that this is usually just a symbolic gesture meant to appease the higher ups in place of something actually being done… you know, to stop poisoning the food supply?

  11. joeblevins says:

    Bribery is commonly accepted just about everywhere but America. Heck, try to do anything in a 3rd world country without greasing some palms.

    China is definatly a country where bribery is common. Animal Farms comment ‘All animals are equal, just some are more equal than others’ really plays well over there. You have power and incredible wealth at the highest stations of government office there.

  12. Trai_Dep says:

    I don’t see any problem with this. Except that we don’t do it here. What a great way to slow down the revolving door to lobbyist firms. Cokie Roberts’ brother – that guy that crammed the ruinous Social Security prescription benefits law – move to the head of the line. Then Doan… Then the EPA for arguing green house gases are groovy. Then… Aw hell, may as well just move on through the entire roster of the Republican party that oversees consumer protection and health.

    We can even export the job of shooting them in the back of the head to China. The GOP loves outsourcing so much, I’m SURE they’d approve.

  13. wobudong says:

    Chinsese executions are with a bullet to the back of the head.
    The family of the deceased gets a bill for the bullet.

  14. mathew says:

    “Bribery is commonly accepted just about everywhere but America.”

    The only difference is that in America it’s institutionalized and called “campaign contributions” and made explicitly legal.

    For instance, MBNA pays money to Bush campaign and Delaware senators. Bush elected. Delaware senators push law making it tougher to escape credit card debt via bankruptcy. Bush signs it through in record time.


    Favorable laws in return for cash? Sounds like bribery to me.

  15. DingoDigger says:

    … some people are writing as though there is a concerted effort by China to ‘poison the food supply’. If you’ve read any articles on the topic, you’ll recognize that these toxins are being found in the food system because people are going to very cheap sources without thinking that, you know, that’s /suspiciously cheap/. That, combined with poor regulation, is causing this problem.

  16. Buran says:

    Whyever would it not be appropriate for a guy who has allowed POISON to be sold as FOOD to not be put to death? His failure to catch poison in glycerin (and therefore failure to stop the deadly cough syrup from being produced) and his failure to catch the same poison being sold in toothpaste and his failure to stop poisoned fish from being sold as harmless fish all have the possible result of killing people.

    Look how many people died from taking medicine that they thought would heal them. Instead, it sent them to their graves.

    This guy let murder happen on his watch and he knew taking bribes was wrong. This can’t begin to repay the cost in lives that his negligence has incurred.

    Sometimes, the death penalty is, to me, very warranted.

  17. mac-phisto says:

    @Buran: as if he’s being executed b/c ppl died. this is all about the money & the detrimental effects it has on chinese growth & image.

    incidentally, it seems that the recent poison scares have less to do with corruption & more to do with bureaucratic nonsense. companies were taking advantage of loopholes created by overlaps in the monitoring agencies to manufacture & sell their products.

    but, i do agree that government officials that use their office for personal gain deserve to be punished severely. & if that means less public servants…well, i don’t know that i see anything wrong with that.

  18. eldergias says:

    @B: No, what would be a great ironic punishment would be to force him to use all of the hazardous things he let pass inspection. He has to eat the tainted foogoo, he had to use the tainted toothpaste, he has to use all products meant for people to use that the allowed to be dangerous. That is ironic and justice. Now if some of this stuff was slipped past him, he should not be punished for it, but for stuff that he took bribes to overlook, bring on the cancer toothpaste.

  19. TechnoDestructo says:


    Good deterrent for jaywalking? You mean the fact that you’re going to get hit by a bus?

    There’s no jaywalking, there’s only jayRUNNING.

  20. Myron says:

    What a surprise.

    “Look, we killed a guy. Problem solved. Now get off our back.”

    China is completely out of control. Its an environmental nightmare, a human rights horrow show, and willing to do anything to make a buck. The availablity of $40 DVD players is not worth turning a blind eye to what’s going on in China.

  21. FLConsumer says:

    Oh man… I only wish our own FDA was subject to these same laws & punishments. Our own FDA probably has killed more people through approving dangerous drugs than the Chinese FDA has.

  22. larry_y says:

    Bribery in China is common place and is the “price of doing business” just like the air and water pollution. What isn’t tolerated is “losing face”. The recent food scandals are an international embarrassment. Almost as bad, I’d imagine, is the money lost from the decreased exports.

  23. Spider Jerusalem says:

    This isn’t shocking. The PM has said over and over again he wants to stop corruption in China, but the corruption is so ingrained that nothing ever really changes. However, for the sake of international face, he’s taking an extreme one-time measure. When they execute the police who destroyed an entire village because they couldn’t pay protection money, then I’ll be surprised.

  24. artki says:

    > Chinsese executions are with a bullet to the back of the head.
    The family of the deceased gets a bill for the bullet.

    Afterwards, they sell the organs to western “medical tourists”. You can get organ transplants at a DEEP DISCOUNT in China…

    Irony? It would be REALLY ironic if somebody who had a trashed kidneys from Diethylene Glycol got a replacement kidney from Mr. Zheng Xiaoyu!

  25. JustThisGuy says:

    @Myron: What a wonderfully ignorant comment. Good job.

  26. Myron says:

    @JustThisGuy: Please enlighten me, oh wise one.

  27. oldhat says:

    1) China actually has huge internal issues governing itself. The top is very careful not to upset the middle and lower ranks because as much as they may want to rule with an iron fist they need relative stability to keep growing and progressing.

    China could easily break into multiple factions and civil strife could and does break out. Stop being ignorant, thinking China is somehow more amazingly better organized than the US for example.

    So there are people, even at the top, who have the best of intentions and do not like what they see either, just like there is in the US and Europe.

    So they play along just like the Democrats play along about the war, for example. Or California plays along about the constitutional crisis of medicinal pot legal in the state but the feds saying it’s illegal even though they have no legal authority.

    Grin and bear it to make sure business goes on as usual. The Chinese crooks and those who placate them are just like their American counterparts.

    2) Daaaaamn! You gotta admire the Chinese system, when they make a move or make a statement. They. Do. Not. Fuck. Around.

    Like their 3 Gorges Dam…try to do that here in the states…ha!

    They really know how to throw somebody under the bus. No slap on the wrists for their patsies!

  28. JustThisGuy says:

    @Myron: Let’s start with proper semantics, and move on from there.

  29. Myron says:

    @JustThisGuy: Proceed however you wish. I hope to learn something.

  30. MeEducated says:

    joeblevins says:

    Bribery is commonly accepted just about everywhere but America

    As someone who lives in the hinterland beyond the oh-so-enlightened United States, I resent that incredibly ignorant statement. Unfortunately, that’s how Americans get tarred with the bursh of parochialism. I’m not arguing that there isn’t corruption in a lot of third-world countries; however, suggesting that America represents some sort of beacon in the darkness is a joke. Pork-barrel politics? Lobbying?

    On the other hand, the people saying that the same thing (execution) should be done in the US should get a grip.

  31. asherchang says:

    it’s all local governments in China that are to blame. How can the head of the FDA actually have control such relatively small matters such as the practices of individual factories and businesses?

  32. erica.blog says:

    It would be more reassuring to hear “we are going to overhaul our food inspection system/requirements” than “we are going to kill the guy who ran it.” Customers receiving imports from China want safety and standards, not scapegoats. (No, they should want safety and standards… as already noted, they actually want suspiciously cheap.)

    Regarding bribery: my in-laws, when adopting a baby girl from China, were specifically instructed to bring along $10,000 (unmarked bills, small denominations) for various required bribes. On top of all the official fees (US and Chinese), of course. My husband and I found this rather disturbing (“uh, don’t you think that’s just ASKING to get robbed?”), but it’s just the cost of doing business.

  33. Papa Midnight says:

    holy ****. I’m scared of China…

  34. rawsteak says:

    you guys are all afraid of china and how they’re harsh, but if you guys did your jobs right and didn’t threaten the lives of thousands, you would have nothing to be afraid of! Some of you say that taking bribes is a way of life, and how it occurs in every facet of government and business, but it’s still WRONG!

    see, you guys didn’t read the articles that go with this posting: the bribes and favors that this guy was involved with led to the production of drugs that led to the deaths of people all over the WORLD. who gets punished for that? the suppliers of the drugs? the makers? or the guy that approved the drugs for money? I say (C) because even if the makers knew they were making bad medicines, the freaking head of that country’s FDA is supposed to stop that from becoming public!!

    When this happens in the US, unless you can prove a company executive pulled the trigger, they can practice bad medicine and politics and get filthy rich in the process. Worst case scenario – fines, and maybe some jail time… but if the worst case scenario was not only death, but getting shot? not that easy sleeping death, but rifled down? how much corruption do you think you would see then?

  35. Trackback says:

    mental_floss reminds us that Mister Rogers was too good for this planet; AM, Then FM pays a visit to the Southside, draws the line between Steppenwolf and Superfly, then breaks into Dad’s record collection; Ickmusic goes insane — here’s some Kermit Ruffins, there’s some…

  36. Papa Midnight says:


    Wait wait time out. I never said, I would partake in those activities, I just said, I’m scared of China. Partically because I’ve never heard of someone being sentenced to being taken out, stood against the nearest wall, and shot (Complete Analogy, obviously not the punishment here) for bribery, no matter what level it was on. But perhaps my opinion is biased as I do not believe in the waste of tax funds on capital punishment or legalized state murder as I’ve heard it referred to as.