China’s vaccine scandal ignites anger on social media, calls for Premier to quit and Xi to return to China

Faulty child rabies vaccine causes outrage on social media before sensors snuff out public outcry

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Macky Sall, left, with Xi Jinping in Dakar, Senegal on July 21 2018.

Macky Sall, left, with Xi Jinping in Dakar, Senegal on July 21 2018. (By Associated Press)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – China's latest vaccine scandal was the second most viewed topic on WeChat messaging app over the weekend, with netizens calling for senior politicians to resign and for President Xi Jinping to return to China, before censors rushed to delete the content on July 22.

"I found that Chinese people are amazing. From milk powder to vaccines, as long as they are related to future generations, they can be neglected. This is to ruin the country." said an angry netizen, reported Radio France Internationale (RFI).

The most recent vaccine scandal surrounds a rabies vaccine made by China's second-largest producer of rabies vaccines, Changsheng Biotechnology. Regulators said last week they will halt production of the medicine after the company was found to have violated safety standards and fabricated records.

Authorities in China rushed to minimize public concern by trying to downplay the prevalence and risk of the faulty vaccines. But China's state broadcaster CCTV was forced to recognize that around 250,000 bad vaccines were sold in Shandong province, reported Channel News Asia.

The company said in a stock exchange statement that it was told to suspend production of a number of other vaccines, too, reported Reuters.

Numerous parents told the South China Morning Post that they have lost faith in the government and the healthcare system, after the scandal broke.

The scandal became a hot topic on WeChat, as the people shared an essay alleging corruption and malpractice, before the content was deleted by government censors, reported Channel News Asia.

There have been calls on social media for the Premier, Li Keqiang (李克强) to step down.

One netizen said "If the fake vaccine incident took place in Japan, the Japanese Prime Minister will step down and if it took place in the United States, The U.S. president will be impeached. In any normal country, the people will go to the streets to protest. The people here are quiet, the network here is deleted, and the political people here are not affected." reported RFI.

RFI also reported that Xi has been asked to return to China to deal with the scandal in person. Xi is currently on a tour of Africa in a bid to deepen economic and military ties with the continent.

RFI also said that Xi's absence from media coverage while abroad was because senior party leaders are tired of Xi's so-called cult of personality.