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Something sour at Yili milk

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“State-owned Chinese dairy company Yili Group publicly accused its former president, Zhèng Jūnhuái 郑俊怀, of embezzling public funds and defaming the company on Wednesday, saying he was protected for more than a decade by his close ties to government officials,” reports the South China Morning Post.

  • Yili made the claims in a statement published on Weibo (in Chinese) and said that it had submitted a report to the Central Leading Group for Inspection Work appealing “for justice.”
  • The statement followed the sentencing today in an Inner Mongolian court of a blogger to one year in prison, suspended for one year and six months, and a journalist to eight months in prison, both for the crime of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” (寻衅滋事 xúnxìn zīshì) — see report (in Chinese). This charge is often used as justification for imprisoning dissidents.
  • The blogger and journalist were arrested after circulating a WeChat posting of a fictional story about a company very similar to Yili, run by a chairman very similar to current Yili boss Pān Gāng 潘刚. The dairy boss in the story ends up detained by the police. Yili’s share price tanked after the story went viral — see the May report on SupChina for details.
  • Yili now accuses former president Zheng of organizing defamatory attacks on the company for a decade after he was ousted for embezzlement in 2004. Yili also says that he was permitted to spend his six-year prison term for the crime at home because of his connections and influence.

Read the whole SCMP piece for more murky details. The only thing we can be sure of is that we’ll never know exactly what has been going down in Inner Mongolia’s biggest dairy.

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Jeremy Goldkorn

Jeremy Goldkorn worked in China for 20 years as an editor and entrepreneur. He is editor-in-chief of SupChina, and co-founder of the Sinica Podcast.

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