BEIJING - China said on Thursday that the death
sentence given to the former head of its drug and food watchdog for corruption
was a warning to top officials.
Zheng Xiaoyu, former head of the State Food and Drug Administration, faces
execution after a Beijing court on convicted him on Tuesday of graft and
dereliction of duty.
He left his post before a recent wave of medicine safety scandals engulfed
China. But state media have acclaimed the unusually harsh sentence as showing
the Communist Party's determination to purge corruption.
A commentary in the People's Daily, the party's official paper, said Zheng's
fate was a lesson to other officials.
"As a case study of a party member and leading official breaking the law and
committing crime, the Zheng Xiaoyu case offers profound lessons that all public
servants, especially leading officials at every level, should take to heart,"
the paper said.
The warning was issued by a "specially commissioned commentator", a sourcing
that suggests the editorial was on behalf of national leaders.
Zheng, 62, head of the drug and food agency from 1998 to 2005, took bribes
worth some 6.5 million yuan ($850,000) from eight companies.
During his tenure, dozens died in China from fake or bad drugs and food
products. In one of the most notorious cases, in 2004, at least 13 babies died
of malnutrition in Anhui province after being fed fake milk powder with no
"Any conduct that hurts the people's interests, any shirking or
perfunctoriness, any dereliction of duty will not be tolerated and must be
punished," the commentary in the People's Daily warned.
Officials also had to ensure that their families and staff did not abuse
their closeness to power, it said.
In a separate report, the People's Daily said many of the country's million
or more food processing businesses lacked standardised production required by
An unnamed State Food and Drug Administration official told the paper that
the agency would strengthen checks for toxins, pesticides and unapproved
additives in foods.