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China's quality chief steps down in milk scandal
Updated: 2008-09-22 18:36


Undated file photo of Li Changjiang, former director of China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine. []

BEIJING -- China's chief quality supervisor Li Changjiang stepped down on Monday afternoon with the approval of the State Council after tainted dairy products hospitalized nearly 13,000 infants and killed four.

Wang Yong, former deputy secretary-general of the State Council, replaced him as the director of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.

Li was the highest ranking official brought down so far by the dairy product contamination scandal.

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Across the country, nearly 40,000 babies were also sickened by tainted milk powder but had been cured, according to the Ministry of Health on Sunday.

Wu Xianguo, the Communist Party chief of Shijiazhuang City, the epicenter of the national dairy industry tremor in northern Hebei Province, was also sacked on Monday.

Before Wu, Mayor Ji Chuntang and Vice Mayor Zhang Fawang as well as three other responsible city officials were sacked after locally-based Sanlu Group became the first dairy producer under the spotlight in the scandal.

The latest government personnel reshuffle, together with the resignation of Shanxi governor Meng Xuenong following a deadly landslide triggered by the collapse of an illegal mining dump, sent a strong signal of the central government's resolution to hold relevant officials accountable for severe production and quality incidents, said professor Wang Wei of the National School of Administration.

"Such a system is especially crucial to the building of a service-oriented government as the public, impressed with the Olympic efficiency of the governments at various levels, expect officials to retain quick-response and effective," Wang said.