On Morning Edition yesterday, Renee Montagne reported on the execution of China's head of food and drug safety, which was ordered because the guy embezzled money, took bribes, and approved medications that ended up killing at least 10 people. According to Chinese standards, his punishment was very severe, because the reality is that bribes and corruption seem to be a norm in doing business in China, even though every once in a while the government turns around and condemns people for actions that they've been silently condoning or even encouraging up till then.
What's strange to me is how much of a big deal corruption and general safety issues with Chinese products has become. A friend of mine recently moved to China for six months and found this link, which goes through the long list of recalled products from China just in 2007. So the question is, with China being the manufacturer to the world for years now, is this a recent phenomenon or is this something that's been happening all along but just hasn't made headlines? And does this recent execution, which seems quite extreme to my Western ears, mean that Chinese people will be able to rely more on the safety of their food and drugs, or is it just a publicity stunt to show the world that the Chinese government takes this issue seriously?