Friday, July 13, 2007

Chinese Netizens Hailed the Man who Once Sued Zheng Xiaoyu

Left: Gao Chun
Right: Zheng Xiaoyu

The execution of Mr. Zheng Xiaoyu, former director of China’s State Food & Drug Administration, did not stop the public from discussing the case on the Internet. On Friday, someone named Dongwufeng posted an article on BBS with the title: “Zheng Xiaoyu is dead; we can not forget a hero named Gao Chun.”

Gao Chun, a 41-year-old man from Hunan, gained his fame along with Mr. Zheng Xiaoyu’s fall. He was featured by mainland media as a hero who dared to challenge the corrupt system of Chinese government’s drug supervision and approval, despite his powerless status as a drug company pharmacist. People started to notice his story soon after Mr. Zheng was openly put under investigation.

For over a decade, Mr. Gao has kept reporting to authorities in Beijing, including Zheng Xiaoyu and his agency, about frauds he found with his company’s operation when seeking approval for new drugs back in the mid-1990s. For example, some of the “new drugs” were nothing but imported products from foreign drug companies, but were still approved to be registered as new products in China.

After many years, however, Mr. Gao never saw the head of the drug company received proper punishment and the SFDA never really responded to the alleged wrong doings. He lost his job, his pharmacist license and became a migrant worker. Still, he stuck to his course. In 2003, he sued to a Beijing court for the SFDA’s failure to do its job. The court refused to take the case.

Mr. Gao did not stop. One day in 2004, he called Mr. Zheng’s office. The then SFDA director yelled at him: “What right do you have to sue me? What right do you have to fight against me? I exercise power on behalf of the state!”

Mr. Zheng called Gao “the No.1 freak in the world” and Gao responded with calling Zheng “the No.1 corrupt official.”

Although Mr. Zheng’s fall had no direct connection with Mr. Gao’s unremitting petition and legal efforts, the public still admires his courage and perseverance.

“If we have many, many Gao Chun, corrupt officials will sure be scared,” one online comment reads.

There are also others who doubt people like Gao Chun would make much difference. One poster writes that so long as the entire system remains the same, people like Gao Chun could only be the targets of sever persecution by the powerful, or at best be hailed as hero after the fall of certain officials.

“While admiring Gao Chun, [I] feel sad for the country. Without proper check on power, kill one [corrupt official], more will come,” another comment says.

Public comments

Gao Chun’s story by Southern People Weekly

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