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China Health & Science

We Want Milk! Australian Baby Formula Sold Out Due to Chinese Demand

A great demand for milk powder in mainland China has lead to baby formula shortages in different countries. Now, the shelves in Australia are empty.

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The great demand for milk powder in mainland China has led to baby formula shortages in different countries. The major milk shopping spree on China’s Singles Day has now left the shelves in Australia empty. The milk shortages lead to heated online discussions, both in Australia and in China.

Unofficial Chinese exporters are busier than ever buying baby formula in Australian supermarkets and pharmacies to ship to China. It is a highly lucrative market for them: the average price for a tin of milk powder is AUD 25 (±18 US$), but Chinese mums are willing to pay up to AUD 80-100 (58-72 US$) per tin.

Due to the high demand of baby powder in China, Australian-based Chinese, especially international students, frantically buy boxes of milk powers to sell to their Chinese contacts. It has left shelves empty in local supermarkets, triggering the anger of Australian mums.

 

“Some parents have to visit up to 15 different supermarkets and pharmacies before they can buy milk powder for their baby.”

 

The demand for milk powder recently intensified in the lead-up to Singles Day, China’s biggest shopping day of the year. It has become hard to find baby formula in many of Melbourne supermarkets such as Coles or Woolworths. Popular baby formula brands including Bellamy’s, Karicare or A2 Platinum have become particularly difficult to obtain. According to Australian news reports, some parents have to visit up to 15 different supermarkets and pharmacies before they can buy milk powder for their baby.

One furious parent reportedly was so fed up with the situation, that she snapped pictures of two women buying 50 cans of A2 Platinum baby formula at a Melbourne supermarket, and uploaded them to Facebook. “My blood was boiling for the mothers having problems finding A2 for their babies. I was feeling sensitive because I’ve got a newborn,” the woman told Fairfax Media.

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The pictures sparked heated discussions on Facebook (comment screenshots by Esposito & Fu, 2015).

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As Chinese media reported on the issue, the shortage of baby formula in Australia also became a much-discussed topic on Sina Weibo under the hashtag of “Australian Milk powder Shortage” (#澳洲奶荒#) and “Australian Mums Hate Singles Day” (#澳洲妈妈最恨双11#).

 

“20 million babies are born in China every year, and only a quarter of them are breastfed.”

 

The reason that so many Chinese parents are buying baby formula from overseas dates back to the disastrous melamine poisoning cases that affected 300,000 Chinese babies in 2008. Many Chinese no longer trust Chinese manufactured milk powder. They therefore look to buy “clean and green” baby formula from countries such as Australia, The Netherlands, New Zealand or Hong Kong. Richer parents are willing to pay as much as five times the retail price for a tin of baby formula. For those who do not have the money, however, made-in-China formula is the only option.

With 20 million babies born in China every year, and only a quarter of them being breastfed, the demand for baby formula is growing rapidly.

Supermarkets and pharmacies in The Netherlands have already limited individual sales of baby formula: every customer can now only purchase one pack of baby formula from brands such as Nutrilon. In some Amsterdam pharmacies, an ID registration is required to purchase milk powder in order to avoid the same person buying different packs in different stores across the city. Some stores of supermarket chain Jumbo has set a rule that people can only buy milk powder if they spend at least 25 euro (±26 US$) on other groceries. It keeps unofficial exporters away.

Due to empty shelves, Nutrilon has now made it possible for Dutch citizens to order milk power online, with a limit of two packs a week.

The sales limits have made it more difficult for unofficial sellers to obtain large amounts of milk powder, making countries such as Australia a more attractive place to buy and sell baby formula.

 

“The penalty for unlicensed export of milk powder is up to 12 months imprisonment.”

 

When you search for “Australia buyers” (澳洲代购) on Taobao, Weibo or WeChat, thousands of results pop up. Chinese people living overseas make huge profits in purchasing commodities for their customers in mainland China.

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Even Australian souvenir shops operated by Chinese have now turned to the ‘grey market’, with boxes of formula stacked up. While supermarkets are running out of formula, courier companies have so many parcels of formula in stock that they almost reach the roof, ready to be shipped overseas.

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Australian-based Weibo netizens provide their services as ‘Australia buyers’ for customers in mainland China.
 

Several retailers including Woolworths and some pharmacies have now also introduced purchase limits to 2 tins of baby formula per customer.

In response to the massive import of milkpowder, the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources issued an online statement this month, warning unofficial exporter that the penalty for unlicensed export of milk powder is up to 12 months imprisonment.

[learn_more caption=”Statement by the Australian Department”] “The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources understands that the community may have concerns about shortages of infant formula on Australian supermarket shelves.

The department understands supermarkets are taking measures to make sure adequate stock of infant formula are available and have been talking to their suppliers. These are commercial arrangements between retailers and the manufacturers of infant formula. The role of this department is to ensure goods exported comply with the Export Control Act 1982, meet foreign government requirements, are safe and accurately described. The penalty for failing to comply with the conditions of export orders—including exporting a prescribed dairy product without an export permit and sourcing from an unregistered establishment—is up to 12 months imprisonment. If the exporter also provides false information to an authorised officer the penalty is up to 5 years imprisonment.

Background

Exports of Australian-made infant formula to China that are over 10 kg (or 10 L liquid) must be sourced from registered export establishments and export documentation is only provided where export consignments comply with China’s requirements. that the penalty for failing to comply with the conditions of export orders—including exporting a prescribed dairy product without an export permit and sourcing from an unregistered establishment—is up to 12 months imprisonment. If the exporter also provides false information to an authorised officer the penalty is up to 5 years imprisonment. Exports of Australian-made infant formula to China that are over 10 kg (or 10 L liquid) must be sourced from registered export establishments and export documentation is only provided where export consignments comply with China’s requirements.”[/learn_more]

 

“The government has to think about why the majority of people have no trust in the milk produced here”

 

On Sina Weibo, netizen Elynpao urges Chinese to think about the issue of Australian baby formula shortage: “We have enough milk in China to supply our own people. Why should we burden such a big country [as Australia], causing them to scold Chinese businessmen for earning money like that? China should really reflect on itself.”

Another Weibo netizen named MELIFE also says that it is a shame how Chinese buy up all baby formula from Australian supermarkets and sell it to China just to earn money, leaving the local babies without any supplies.

“The government has to think about why the majority of people have no trust in the milk produced here,” another user comments. “It’s a national humilition,” another commenter says: “If a country cannot even safeguard the milk for its babies, making people go abroad for it; it’s really dreadful.”

– by Jennifer Tang

featured image: http://news.china.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/640-1059.jpeg

©2015 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. edwin castelblanco

    March 17, 2016 at 2:36 am

    looking to start exporting powder milk to china , im in the USA any info would be a great help

  2. Oliver

    April 24, 2019 at 12:59 pm

    New update : 1child policy is stopped… and there is a new increase of demand for Western Baby formula Brand.
    the top five infant formula firms in China are all based in the U.S. and Europe, accounting for 40 percent of the market.

    • max

      May 4, 2019 at 4:29 am

      It is a Brand Market you are right

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China Health & Science

Footage Shows Mysterious Flashes Before Qinghai Earthquake

The flashes of light seen in the sky right before the Qinghai earthquake have become a trending topic on Weibo.

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Videos of the January 8th quake, which occurred in Qinghai’s Menyuan county, appear to show several intense flashes of light filling the night sky immediately preceding the quake. The videos have sparked debate among Chinese internet users as to the explanation for the brilliant lights, with some referencing the little-understood phenomenon of “Earthquake Lights.”

On January 8 at approximately 1:45 AM, Menyuan County in the Haibei Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in China’s Qinghai Province was struck by a magnitude 6.9 earthquake, damaging several homes and causing minor injuries to four people.

Photos of buildings in the area show shattered wall tiling and window glass, a partial ceiling collapse, and other minor structural damage. The area around the quake’s epicenter is sparsely populated, but tremors could be felt in numerous nearby cities including Zhangye, Wuwei, Jinchang, Lanzhou, and Linxia Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu, as well as causing railway closures along the Qinghai-Tibet and Lanzhou-Qinghai high-speed rail lines, Jiangxi Daily reports.

The earthquake was followed by several subsequent quakes, including 5 quakes of lesser magnitude all within the hour.

According to the China Earthquake Administration, the quakes continued into the 9th, with a magnitude 3.2 earthquake recorded in Menyuan county at 0:44 on January 9th.

CCTV footage shot moments before the quake and shared widely on Weibo captured a bright, explosive flash of light, which quickly disappears before a second, shorter flash lights up the night sky, followed immediately by tremors.

The footage intrigued Chinese netizens, with the hashtag “Intense Flash of Light on the Horizon Before the Qinghai Earthquake” (#青海地震前地平线出现耀眼强光#) accumulating over 100 million views by Sunday and giving rise to debate over the cause of the strange lights. Other videos capturing the flash from different angles show only one flash, or several smaller flashes along the horizon.

Much of the debate centered around whether this was a case of “Earthquake Lights” (地光/地震光, also EQLs), a controversial phenomenon among scientists which is sometimes reported before high-magnitude earthquakes, such as Italy’s 2009 L’Aquila quake.

Just before and after quakes begin, witnesses have reported seeing unexplainable light phenomena in a range of colors, ranging from brilliant white flashes as bright as daylight to a blue, flame-like glow hovering above the earth.

Explanations range from the ionization of oxygen in rocks under intense stress, piezoelectric or triboluminescent phenomena, and leaks of radioactive ionizing gas into the atmosphere to more mundane sources, such as the flailing of damaged power lines. Sometimes the lights were also said to come from UFOs or explained them in religious terms, but a 2014 study refuted this and linked the phenomenon to rift environments.

Interestingly, this is not the first time the phenomenon has been reported to precede a major earthquake in China. Some Weibo users remarked that “Earthquake Lights” had been seen before the disastrous 1976 Tangshan earthquake, which damaged or destroyed vast swathes of that city and killed over 240,000 people. Two movies depicting the quake, After the Blue Light Flashes.. (蓝光闪过之后..) and The Great Tangshan Earthquake (唐山大地震) both feature scenes of mysterious bright lights illuminating the night sky moments before tremors began.

Strange lights were also reported in the sky in Tianshui, Gansu province, preceding the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.

Other Weibo users remained unconvinced about the strange lights being mysterious Earthquake Lights. “Don’t freak out over it,” one user wrote: “It’s just a downed power line.”

Another online video features commentary from seismologist Chen Huizhong (陈会忠) of the China Earthquake Administration, who explains the flashes as an electrical transformer exploding, noting that footage from another angle shows the tremors damaging electrical lines in the distance, which begin sparking and showing obvious signs of damage. This damage, however, occurs after the tremors have already started, and does not seem to explain the bright flashes which lit up the sky immediately preceding the tremors.

Still others suggested that radon gas leaking from underground as the earth shifted could have caused the flash.

While the debate rages on between proponents and skeptics of “Earthquake Lights,” a third group of online commenters has already made up their minds: the Weibo fans of prominent Chinese science fiction writer and The Three-Body Problem author Liu Cixin (刘慈欣), wasted no time in heralding the coming of extraterrestrial invaders.

“Looking forward to a scientific explanation,” wrote one user: “As for me, I think it’s the first step in an alien attack.” The user’s post ended with the hashtag, “The Sophon from Three-Body Problem has arrived!”

 
By Luke Jacobus

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China Health & Science

Chinese Student Forced to Undergo “Fake Surgery” and Borrow Money While Lying on the Operating Table

The 17-year-old girl from Shaanxi underwent surgery for no reason at all, without her parents’ consent.

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The story of a 17-year-old girl who was forced to undergo a “fake surgery” at Shaanxi’s Ankang Xing’an Hospital has gone viral on Chinese social media.

One of the netizens to break the story on social media is the Weibo user @QinguanSihai (@秦观四海, 90,000+ followers), who posted about the incident on October 6.

According to the post, the incident occurred on October 4 when a young woman named Lu went online to seek medical attention because she was not feeling well. Since there was an available spot for a medical consultation at the private Ankang Xing’an Hospital, Lu went to see a doctor there.

While she was at the hospital in the city of Ankang, the woman allegedly was directly taken to the operating room and placed on the operating table after a short consultation; not for a medical examination, but for surgery.

The girl initially thought she was undergoing a routine medical check. As the surgery was already underway, the doctor stopped to let Lu sign some papers and then asked her if she could gather the money to pay for her medical procedure. When Lu protested and demanded to get off the surgery table, the doctor warned her that she was losing blood and that interrupting the procedure would be life-threatening.

Lying on the operating table, Lu called some of her friends to gather the money, all the while being pressured by the doctor that the money she had (1200 yuan/$185) was not enough to cover for the costs of surgery – which was still ongoing. The doctor allegedly even told Lu to get more money via the Alipay ‘Huabei’ loaning app.

Lu’s parents, who were contacted by concerned friends, soon showed up at the hospital as the doctor hastily ended the surgery. The parents, who were furious to discover their underage daughter had undergone a medical procedure without their consent, became even more upset when they later found out that Lu had undergone surgery to remove cervical polyps, while Lu’s medical reports showed that she actually had no cervical polyps at all. No reason could be found for their healthy daughter to have been operated on her cervix.

After Lu’s story went viral on social media, local authorities quickly started an investigation into the matter and soon confirmed that the story was real. An initial statement said that Angkang Xing’an Hospital is at fault for performing surgery on a minor without the consent of a guardian or parent. It was also recognized that the hospital has committed serious ethical violations. The hospital, located on 78 Bashan Middle Road (巴山中路), is now temporarily closed, and the doctor in question has since been fired.

Many Chinese netizens are angered about the incident, calling private hospitals such as Ankang Xing’an a “disgrace” to China’s healthcare industry.

This is by no means the first time that malpractices at Chinese local hospitals or clinics trigger online controversy. Various incidents that previously went viral show how some clinics put commercial interests above the health of their patients, and how some doctors think they can get away with abusing and scamming their patients.

In 2016, the death of the 21-year-old cancer patient Wei Zexi (魏则西) sparked online outrage. Wei Zexi, who shared his medical experiences on social media, spent 200,000 RMB to receive contested form of immunotherapy at the Beijing Armed Police Corps No. 2 Hospital (武警二院). The treatment, that was promoted on China’s leading search engine Baidu, was actually completely ineffective and the advertising for it was false.

By now, one hashtag relating to the Ankang incident has received over 270 million views on Weibo (#官方通报无病女生被推上手术台#), with other relating hashtags also circulating on social media (#家属回应无病女学生被迫手术#, #无病女学生被推上手术台涉事医院停业整顿#).

“This can’t be a real hospital, right?!” some worried netizens write, with others expressing the hopes that the medical institution will be severely punished for their wrongdoings.

By Manya Koetse

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