Caixin
Jul 20, 2015 07:23 PM

Official Fired over Milk Scandal Gets Top Job in Agriculture Ministry

(Beijing) – An official who lost his job over a major food-safety scandal was recently promoted to a top veterinary position in the Ministry of Agriculture, becoming the latest civil servant who fell from grace over the tainted milk saga in 2008 see his career prospects rebound.

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, which acts as the ruling Communist Party's graft fighter, dismissed Wang Zhicai as head of the ministry's department of animal production in March 2009 over the milk scandal.

In 2008, China's public was shocked to learn that farmers were adding the industrial chemical melamine to raw milk to fake protein counts. The chemical was blamed for the deaths of six infants and for making 300,000 sick, many with kidney ailments. The scandal led to dairy industry executives going to prison and to many officials losing their positions.

However, in the following years many officials have resurfaced in official capacities.

A list of important leaders in the agriculture ministry was recently updated to show that Wang, a native of the northwestern city of Xi'an, now holds the title of State Chief Veterinary Officer. The list appears on the ministry's website.

On July 12, the website of the agricultural bureau in Baotao, in the northern region of Inner Mongolia, reported that Wang recently took part in the opening ceremony of a farming expo.

Another official disgraced by the tainted-milk scandal appeared on a list of promotions published by the Ministry of Human resources and Social Security on July 10. Sun Xianze was promoted to deputy head of the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA), according to the list.

He was dismissed as head of the CFDA's food safety supervision bureau in March 2009, but did not have to wait long to return to officialdom. He was back at work in December that year, becoming head of the CFDA's drug safety bureau and was promoted several times after that.

Wu Xianguo, who was the mayor of the city at the heart of the melamine milk scandal – Shijiazhuang, in the northern province of Hebei, was home to the headquarters of the dairy giant Sanlu Group before it went out of business – has resurfaced in recent years in party jobs.

Wu returned to prominence by working for a party body that handles rural affairs in Hebei in 2013. He became a member of the party's top committee for the province in May this year.

At least two other officials disgraced by the scandal have also returned to work. One of them, Li Changjiang, who once ran the General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, was appointed vice director of the National Office against Pornographic and Illegal Publications in December 2009.

Another, Bao Junkai, was fired as deputy head of the administration's food production supervision department, then returned in 2009 to run its operations in the eastern province of Anhui. He now runs a body under the administration.

Officials who are dismissed for misconduct cannot get an appointment to serve at the same administrative rank within one year, government rules issued in 2009 say. High-level party officials must approve any promotions afterward.

(Rewritten by Guo Kai)

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