The following article below was originally written by The New York Times and will naturally acquire hints of anti-China sentiment. Understand that publishing this article here doesn’t mean this news blog supports everything being said:
By Keith Bradsher
October 10, 2011
HONG KONG — The fiercely nationalistic municipal government of Chongqing in southwestern China ordered all 13 Wal-Mart stores there to close for 15 days and fined the company $420,000 in a labeling dispute that has broader political implications for Western companies operating in China.
The city accused the company of selling pork as organic when the meat did not meet the standards for organic labels. Wal-Mart has now been punished 21 times in Chongqing since 2006 for misleading advertising or for selling substandard or expired food, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
Wal-Mart, which had 346 stores in China in August, said in a statement that it was working with the Chongqing authorities to improve its operations there.
“We care deeply about the well-being of the community with over 3,000 of our own associates living and working in Chongqing,” the company said. “We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience this may cause our customers and are even more determined to meet the service expectations they have of us.”
Mislabeling pork as organic might seem like a small offense in a country where the reuse of rancid cooking oil by restaurants has become a national scandal, and where the deliberate mixing of powdered infant formula with industrial waste from plastics manufacturing to meet minimum protein standards has sickened an estimated 50,000 babies. But Chinese government officials have long set more stringent standards of quality control, labor rights and other industrial issues for foreign companies than for Chinese-owned companies.
Economic nationalism, which critics describe as bordering on xenophobia, is more visible in cities deep in China’s interior than in its export-oriented coastal cities. Nowhere is nationalism more visible now than in the largest city in the interior, Chongqing.
The Communist Party secretary overseeing Chongqing since 2007, Bo Xilai, is pursuing a seat on the nine-member Standing Committee of the Politburo during a shake-up late next year, when President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao are slated to retire, although Mr. Bo is not expected to receive either of the two top jobs.
The fervor in Chongqing has not been accompanied by substantive efforts to shift away from capitalism and back toward collective ownership of the economy, but it has prompted wary watchfulness by multinationals.
Chongqing is the size of a small province, and the municipal government there has essentially the same administrative rank in China as a province.