A new regulation issued in Hong Kong on the export of infant formula will take effect on March 1. The rule requires that people departing Hong Kong can only carry two cans of milk powder. Violators will face a fine of 500,000 yuan ($80,000) and two years’ imprisonment.
This is not the first time that Hong Kong complains about people from mainland China buying up all the infant formula, which results in price hikes and shortage in local milk powder market.
Mainlanders started to cross the border from Shenzhen to Hong Kong for infant formular right after the 2008 Chinese milk scandal came out. In September 2008, Sanlu Group, one of China’s largest milk powder producers, admitted that its infant formula had been contaminated with the toxic chemical melamine.
According to an article in The Guardian, by November 2008, the tainted milk led to at least six children dying from kidney stones, and caused illnesses in nearly 300,000 others.
These years, not only families living in southern cities in China tend to visit Hong Kong to buy infant formula for personal uses, but also smugglers have been taking advantages by smuggling milk powder from Hong Kong to mainland China and selling for a relatively higher price. According to Hong Kong Business, 10 yuan ($1.6) could be added to the price of smuggled milk powder.
Chinese netizens, as a result, are urging the government to take action on food safety inspection to make sure that kids in China have non-toxic milk.
Murongxuecun, famous author and commentator in China, said in his Weibo post:
What we should talk about is, as the world’s second-biggest economy, a so-called growing empire, a country spending hundreds of billions of dollars on stability maintenance and misuse of public funds, how come China is not even able to ensure the safety of a can of milk powder? It has been a long time since the 2008 milk scandal. What kind of improvements have been done in the milk industry? What has the government been doing? What has the Food Quality and Safety Department been doing? Have the governors ever concerned about their people?