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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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      China Health & Science

      Rejected for Being Blind: Shaanxi Normal University Denies Female Student Braille Entrance Exam

      No exam, no entrance – this student ran into a brick wall at the famous Chinese university.

      Saga Ringmar

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      The story of a young blind woman whose application for a Chinese university’s entrance exams was rejected due to her visual disability has sparked discussion across Chinese social media.

      Last week, Shaanxi Normal University made headlines in China for rejecting a blind student from their psychology Masters program.

      Debates arose online about how universities should accommodate disabled students. The related hashtag (#盲人女孩报考陕西师大研究生遭拒#) received 41 million clicks and about 2,600 related posts on social media platform Weibo.

      According to Chinese news site The Paper, the female student named Wu Xiao (吴潇) was turned down after she tried to apply for Shaanxi Normal University’s postgraduate entrance exam. The university reportedly claimed they were not equipped to teach students with visual impairments.

      In an interview, the 24-year-old Wu Xiao said that, despite encountering obstacles, she had managed to study with non-blind students for the past four years already. As a fourth-year student of applied psychology at the Nanjing Normal University of Special Education, all she needed was a chance to take the entrance exam, but this request was denied. The university allegedly stated they could not provide a Braille version of the exam.

      Wu Xiao said she was perplexed about the rejection, especially since Shaanxi Normal University previously organized a college tour for students with physical disabilities.

      Shaanxi Normal University, located in Xi’an, is a well-known university under the direct administration of the Ministry of Education of China.

      In the news report shared by Lifeweek, a staff member at Shaanxi Normal University explained the situation, saying that psychologists need to be able to see their patients in order to treat them. Students with vision loss should therefore aim for another career, the man said.

      The university cited guidelines from 2003 issued by the Ministry of Education and the China Disabled Persons’ Federation. These guidelines allow for a physical examination to affect the chances of studying a certain subject.

      According to article 3.6 of the guidelines, students with visual impairments are “unsuitable” to study psychology. Among other things, the guidelines also state that universities can reject students from studying journalism if they have a stammer or hunchback.

      On Weibo, one of the main issues discussed was whether or not Wu Xiao was right in speaking out against the university.

      Some Weibo users defended the university’s decision, arguing that nonverbal, visual communication plays a vital role in the field of psychology. There were also those saying that Wu could not demand the school to adapt to her needs.

      But there are also many social media users advocating equal opportunities and equal access for persons with disabilities. “A lot of people are acting as if she’s asking for special treatment…but she hasn’t even been able to get equal access to education,” one person commented, “It’s not her fault she can’t go to this school – it is the fault of backward universities and society.”

      Over the past few years, stories of Chinese blind people encountering ignorance and accessibility issues have been receiving more attention on social media.

      Earlier this year, a video showing the failed design of a tactile-paved path in Inner Mongolia caught the attention of web users. The tactile paving steered blind and visually impaired pedestrians straight into trees on the sidewalk. Local authorities later fixed the paths.

      Another video posted on Douyin (the Chinese version of Tiktok) in August of this year also attracted a lot of attention, receiving over 150,000 likes. The video, posted by a visually impaired blogger (@盲探-小龙蛋), showed the difficulties encountered by Chinese people with blindness or low vision when using public transportation. In Shenzhen, where the blogger lives, most buses do not have speakers announcing their direction, making it impossible for him to know which bus to take. Shenzhen has to do better if it wants to call itself a “city without hindrances” (“无障碍城市”), he argued.

      Over recent years, the Chinese government has done more to strengthen the protection of rights and interests of persons with disabilities in the country. Although there is a focus on the prevention of birth defects and disability – even launching a “National Disability Prevention Day” – there seems to be a lesser focus on transforming China’s social organizations to actually help those with disabilities.

      Children with visual impairments often attend specialized schools isolated from the rest of society. Only since 2015 have blind students been able to take the university entrance exam (gaokao) in Braille. According to Toutiao News, Wu Xiao was the only student in Shaanxi to take the Braille version of the gaokao.

      To promote more inclusivity for disabled citizens in the workforce, China has an employment quota system in which companies must reserve at least 1.5 percent of their positions for disabled persons, yet many companies do not meet the quota.

      On Weibo, some commenters argue that people such as Wu Xiao will continue to face discrimination in society unless something changes in the education system.  “We can only build a fair society if our education is fair,” one person writes: “Caring for the disadvantaged and giving them equal opportunities is a measure of a civilized society. We have to care for them and help them fulfill their dreams.”

      By Saga Ringmar ( follow on Twitter

      Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

      ©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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      China Health & Science

      Chinese Baby Dies of Suffocation after ‘Swimming’ with Baby Neck Float

      One fatal incident has turned baby neck floats into a topic of debate.

      Manya Koetse

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      Neck float rings for babies have become popular in many countries over the past few years.

      The inflatable plastic rings are designed to cradle a baby’s head as their body moves around underwater, and are thought to help infants’ motor development.

      These ‘neck float donuts’ became top trending on Chinese social media today after the death of a 1-month-old baby in the province of Hunan. The neck float was used to let the baby girl have a bath under the supervision of the mother and grandmother.

      According to state media outlet CCTV, the mother and grandmother did not notice anything was wrong with the infant until the father returned home and found her silent and motionless.

      A local doctor reports that the caregivers initially thought the baby was just sleeping after her bath. At the hospital, the baby was found to have died of asphyxiation.

      Doctors now warn about the dangers of using these inflatable neck rings for babies.

      The ‘neck float donuts’ are commonly sold on Chinese e-commerce sites, promoted to use for babies from age 0 to 1.

      On Weibo, the topic received a lot of attention, with one hashtag relating to the news receiving over 450 million clicks (#婴儿在家人监护下游泳窒息身亡#).

      Some people are surprised to hear about the ‘neck float craze,’ saying that babies should never be put in such an inflatable ring to begin with.

      These kinds of swim rings are sold all over the world and have also become a popular item among vlogging parents who show off their cute babies swimming around the bathtub, pool, or baby spa.

      In the US and Europe, experts have recurringly warned parents of the potential dangers of using such neck floats.

      “A 1-month-old baby should never be put in such a thing,” some Weibo commenters write, with many people criticizing these kinds of parenting fads. “Why should a 1-month-old swim at all?”

      There are also many people who simply do not understand how the incident could happen, blaming the mother for being “careless.”

      But there are also those who just express their sadness about the death of the little baby and the family’s loss. “The mother must be heartbroken,” one top comment said: “Nobody wanted this to happen.”

      By Manya Koetse

      Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

      ©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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