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Japan Radiation Fears Spark Salt Run in China

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Published on Mar 22, 2011

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Chinese residents began hording salt last week after heightened fears of nuclear radiation from Japan's Fukushima plant. The salt run has eased somewhat, but some say the mad rush is a reflection of a distrust of the regime and state-controlled media.

Last week, radiation from Japan's earthquake stricken Fukushima nuclear plant generated panic in China, sparking a crazed dash for salt.

Many fear the radiation could reach China, and that eating iodized salt will help protect them against radiation poisoning. Others heard rumors that the ocean will become contaminated with radiation, making salt produced in the future dangerous.

After the salt run began, Chinese state-run media tried to reassure the public that future salt production would be safe, and that there is no need to hoard it.

But a Shanghai resident told the Epoch Times Newspaper that each time authorities try to reassure people about something, the public takes it to mean the opposite. A run on salt across the country left many store shelves empty of salt and products like soy sauce.

Veteran journalist Chang Ping tells why he thinks the Chinese public reacted in this way.

[Chang Ping, Veteran Chinese Journalist]:
"People have to try to save themselves because they have long lost trust in their society. They had no other choice but to panic. The society does not have a notification system or rescue structure to cope with disasters, so the people do not trust the government, nor the society built around this government."

Recent food scares like contaminated milk powder and toxic additives in meat have made China's public jittery over food safety. The frequent safety issues have left many doubting Chinese authorities' ability to do much about it.

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