“We Chinese People Would Never Scam Like That”

Chinese people food safetyI was at a trade show in Shanghai yesterday and started talking with a Chinese leader for a US company.  He said he had worked closely with and knew OSI Group and the scandal that had devastated them in China. He further said Western companies in China earn money with these same large US companies because it can be covered up in the food chain.

I was appalled at what I heard. He said. “OSI’s Chinese managers did not use expired meat of their own accord. No Chinese would be brave enough to do that! They must have at least had a verbal OK from OSI USA.” He spoke so convincingly in English. I was shook. I needed to back off and think.

OK, so yes, Americans sometimes do scandalous things. It happens.

Chinese People Have Good and Bad Employees Just Like Us. However, They Dare to Scam More.

Chinese do not dare to use expired meat?    In 2008, China had a Milk Scandal where Chinese people were adding  a plastic (melamine) to the milk to fake the level of nitrogen when they diluted the milk with water. 100’s of thousands of infants were sickened and at least 6 died.  Expired meat is not necessarily unsafe where adding the plastic is definitively unsafe. Several people were executed and many imprisoned in the milk scandal.  Actually, the list of outrageous scandals Chinese people have dared in finance, construction, management, US IPO, etc…  would get long indeed. We know about this case of the milk as the New Zealand JV partners demanded it be public information.  The whole Chinese system planned to cover this up.  Other such issues are covered up, and we can never hear. See thoughts on Better Hiring Practices.

So why would this top Chinese leader of a US company working in the area of food chain trust say confidently that Chinese people do not dare? He was trying to convince me to give up my belief that hiring was part of OSI’s error.  OSI simply did not manage their Chinese hiring for this venture to ensure the talent was also trustworthy. Why would he try to change me? After that conversation I wondered if we should go to McDonald’s in China over 大娘饺子 (a Chinese fast food dumpling chain) because of feelings of safety at Western Food chains. With that guy in your food supply chain, you should be careful indeed.

I had a guy work for me who was a former line manager for a Fortune 500 US company in China. Management trained him to use industrial scissors to cut up ruined parts, so they would not show up in the scrap bin. This factory totally faked so many stats it made him sick, and he quit.

The Fortune article above seems to say they just need better management systems.  If you do not have a way to get trustworthy talent other than ‘normal’ background checks, then management systems will not save you.

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Posted in: China, China Recruitment - Getting Good People, Chinese Culture

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