Initially covered up by officials afraid of losing their jobs and besmirching the Beijing Olympic Games, the melamine contamination scandal began with infant milk formula that killed at least four infants and sickened 54,000 babies. It soon spread to candy, instant coffee, yogurt, biscuits and other products made with Chinese milk, prompting bans or recalls in 16 countries.
In recent weeks the toxin has been discovered in eggs and in animal feed, sparking fears that tainted foods go well beyond dairy products and may include fish, shrimp, beef and poultry.
So it turns out that fear of "besmirching the Beijing Olympic Games" led in part to the greatest international embarrassment for the Chinese Communist Party in nineteen years.
Under normal circumstances, this would be bad enough, but the regime is going through anything but normal times.
For starters, we have the oncoming recession, the first serious one since the regime become the export maven for which it was famous just months ago (and is now infamous, see above). The cadres are responding the only way they know how, with more infrastructure projects that will do little or nothing for the overall economy (Washington Post). When this fails, as I suspect it will, the regime will be up a serious creek - one that will be far more beneficial for the rest of the world than even it realizes, as One Free Korea notes. When even the Potemkin city of Shenzhen is hosting anti-police riots (BBC), there is serious trouble afoot.
The melamine and economic crises also come just as the rest of the world has decided to stop giving the Communists so much slack over festering problems that refuse to simply go away. The regime's insistence that the "developed world" cover the cost of greenhouse-gas reduction rings quite hollow now that Communist China is the leading carbon emitter (Washington Times).
True, Taiwan is becoming much more cooperative under President Ma Ying-jeou (Washington Times), but the cadres barely had time to enjoy that before the Dalai Lama made it clear he would listen more to his people and take a tougher line on occupied Tibet (BBC and CNN).
Even the Korean colony, fresh off its spectacular slaying of the Bush Administration, is causing more trouble with its abductions of Japanese citizens returning to the news (BBC).
As January approaches, it becomes clear the Chinese Communist regime will need willing dupes in Washington and elsewhere in the free world as never before. Here's hoping the President-elect refuses to be one of them.