Saturday, June 2, 2007

Defining Futures...

Our adviser from USC has been in Beijing over the weekend to meet with various Chinese universities, students and alumni throughout China. Friday night we had a dinner with everyone from alumni to prospective students and met a lot of interesting people. The Moore School has a greater presence in China than I would have imagined. Some alumni are VP of companies like Sony or Apple, while others are opening restaurants, managing information systems, doing marketing consulting, etc. It was an inspiring experience that also left everyone wondering...which path do I chose? We were given this diagram back in the U.S. to outline different specialties and organizational structures we might want to work under. However, this is only the beginning of the decision making!

Our lunch and private meetings with the adviser brought more hours of discussion. Which functional specialty? Large multinational or local Chinese company? What location? What industry? How to start deciding and looking? These are all things that we are hammering out these days as we try to keep our minds on the goal and the MBA and not get caught up in the relative ease of our daily language study. After three months of break-time and fun it is interesting to watch how everyone has shifted into a search for productivity. We are searching out ways, whether it be part-time jobs, volunteer work, etc. to utilize our skills and create results. I have gone ahead and paid my deposit for next semester at the University of International Business and Economics, which means I will continue to study language there until December, but I did so knowing that it will have to be accompanied by business classes in Chinese, private tutoring, or a part-time job. One step at a time...but I will keep you updated with the plans for the next 15 months as they unfold.

1 comment:

Charlene said...

Stephanie, I don't know if you are aware of the pet food recalls of food produced in China, but it's been massive. This is the latest in today's NYTimes--I don't know if you get it or read it. I thought you might be interested in the reaction in China and what they intend to do. 2010 is a long way off.

I love your blogs!


June 7, 2007
China to Revise Rules on Food and Drug Safety
SHANGHAI, June 6 — Responding to growing international concerns about tainted food and counterfeit drugs, China said late Tuesday that it was overhauling its food and drug safety regulations and would introduce nationwide inspections.

The announcement, from the State Council, the nation’s highest administrative body, is the strongest signal yet that Beijing is moving to crack down on the sale of dangerous food and medicine and trying to calm fears that some of its exports pose health problems.

But the challenges facing China are enormous because its regulatory system is weak and enforcement is difficult.

The announcement follows a series of embarrassing episodes this year involving China’s export of tainted pet food ingredients and toothpaste. The shipments of pet food ingredients, contaminated by the chemical melamine, set off one of the largest pet food recalls in United States history.

In recent weeks, several countries, including the United States, Panama and Nicaragua, recalled or issued warnings about toothpaste made in China because it contained a toxic chemical called diethylene glycol.

Last month, The New York Times reported that at least 100 people had died in Panama after taking medicine containing diethylene glycol that had been produced in China and exported as the harmless syrup glycerine.

And a spokesman for the European Commission said on Wednesday that food safety officials there were investigating after Greece and Poland reported finding traces of melamine in corn gluten and rice protein imported from China, forcing the rejection of one shipment and the withdrawal of tainted feed from the market.

While Beijing has strongly defended the quality and safety of its food and drug exports, and even denied that the toothpaste it exported was unsafe, government regulators at the same time have stepped up safety inspections and shut down companies accused of producing unsafe food or counterfeit drugs.

But with pressure growing from regulators in the United States, Europe and other parts of the world, and international food companies expressing concern about the risks of importing Chinese-made food and feed ingredients, Beijing is pushing for a more forceful response to the crisis.

In its announcement on Tuesday, which was posted on a government Web site, China said that the State Council had approved a new food and drug safety guarantee system on April 17 and that an outline of the program was being distributed to government agencies nationwide.

The government said in its announcement that it planned by 2010 to place new controls on food and drug imports and exports and to step up random testing on medicines. It also said that it would have information on inspections of 90 percent of all food products, although it was unclear how that would work.

The government said it also planned safety checks on a large majority of food makers and said that regulators would crack down on the sale of counterfeit drugs and medical devices.

The government did not indicate whether it would provide more funds for the efforts or which agencies would carry out the bulk of the functions.

In announcing the measures, the government hinted at its weakness in enforcement, saying that after five years a goal was that “100 percent of the significant food safety accidents are investigated and dealt with” and that “80 percent of the food that needs to be recalled is recalled.”

A few weeks ago, the government announced that it was planning to set up a food recall system.

Also late Tuesday, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, which oversees food and drug exports, posted statements on its Web site about the issue.

“Recently, our country has had a series of export food problems, and that has triggered a lot of overseas attention about China’s food safety,” said Wei Chuanzhong, deputy director of the agency. “This has put us on high alert, and led us to seriously look into the reasons for the problem.”

Food and drug safety experts have complained for years about a flawed system that has led to food scares or mass poisonings tied to counterfeit or substandard medicines on the market.

Much of the blame has centered on weak enforcement of the nation’s food and drug regulations, as well as corruption, bribery and a business culture where counterfeiting thrives.

China’s food and drug administration, which is supposed to safeguard the nation’s health, has also been implicated.

Last week, a Chinese court handed down a death sentence against Zheng Xiaoyu, the head of the Food and Drug Administration in China from 1998 to 2005, after he pleaded guilty to bribery and corruption charges. The government also said that he had taken bribes to approve drug production licenses and that it was reviewing production licenses the agency had issued.

Some experts say the new food and drug safety program suggests that the nation’s top leaders are taking up the call for reforms and new enforcement measures.

“There’s been concern for a while about food safety in this country, and now that there are growing concerns about China’s international image, the State Council has decided to act,” said Russell Leigh Moses, an analyst of Chinese politics who is based in Beijing. “This may be a sign that everyone in the government ought to get in line.”

But enforcement of the rules will be particularly difficult, partly because the economy is growing rapidly and because local officials accept bribes and sometimes allow small companies to flout regulations.

Regulators here also say that many exporters of food and medicines are mislabeling goods and shipping them illegally.

Two weeks ago, food and drug safety issues were even on the table in Washington during the strategic economic dialogue presented by Henry M. Paulson Jr., the Treasury secretary.

“These are issues China has to deal with over time,” said Rio D. Praaning, secretary general of the Public Advice International Foundation in Belgium, an advisory group that is working on food and drug safety issues around the world. “But we can’t wait. We have interim developments. We have patience, but frankly patience is out the window when people start dying.”