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Green MP seeks support for Chinese protester

Green Party MP Keith Locke has leapt to the defence of a Chinese man arrested and charged in his country for publicly protesting in support of tainted milk powder victims, and says the Government should do the same.Several children were killed and hundred

NZPA
Tue, 06 Apr 2010

Green Party MP Keith Locke has leapt to the defence of a Chinese man arrested and charged in his country for publicly protesting in support of tainted milk powder victims, and says the Government should do the same.

Several children were killed and hundreds of thousands sickened late in 2008 by the poisoned infant formula, which was sold by Chinese firm San Lu -- 43 percent owned by New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra.

The powder was found to have been contaminated by farmers with the chemical melamine before being supplied to San Lu, which later went bankrupt over the scandal.

Zhao Lianhai was arrested by Chinese police late last year after he publicly began a push for greater accountability and compensation over the sale of the milk powder.

He has been on trial over charges of inciting social disorder, and has spent several months in custody without being able to see his family, international news agencies have reported.

Mr Locke, the Green Party's foreign affairs spokesman, said Mr Zhao, whose own son was diagnosed with kidney problems following melamine poisoning, was only trying to get a better deal for the families of affected children.

He said it was "outrageous" that Chinese authorities were charging Mr Zhao and called for Fonterra and the New Zealand Government to defend and support him.

"Fonterra bears some responsibility in not applying enough oversight over San Lu's operations," he said.

Fonterra said when the scandal broke it was not aware of claims San Lu may have known about the contamination well before it was publicly discovered. Fonterra wrote off its $100 million-plus investment in San Lu over a year ago.

Mr Locke said the New Zealand Government also needed to speak out in support of Mr Zhao.

"Shooting the messenger will not help China solve the endemic corruption which allowed the melamine-poisoning to occur, and be on such a large scale," he said.

NZPA
Tue, 06 Apr 2010
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Green MP seeks support for Chinese protester
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