SHIJIAZHUANG, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- The fall from grace of Tian Wenhua
, the woman who had headed one of China's biggest dairy companies,
was complete on Thursday when she began a life jail term for her role in the
tainted milk powder scandal that left at least six infants dead.
Tian, 66, former chairwoman and general manager of
the Sanlu Group based in Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei Province, was also fined
24.7 million yuan (2.9 million U.S. dollars) at the Shijiazhuang Municipal
Intermediate People's Court.
The four indictees Tian Wenhua, Wang
Yuliang, Hang Zhiqi, Wu Jusheng (L to R) stand on trial on the court, in
Shijiazhuang, north China's Hebei Province, Dec. 31,
2008. (Xinhua/Ding Lixin)
It is not known whether Tian will lodge an appeal.
The Ministry of Health said it was likely the scandal
of the melamine contaminated milk products, which centered on Sanlu had resulted
in 296,000 infants suffering kidney stones and other urinary problems.
Tian was born into a poor rural family in Nangang
Village in Zhengding County, about 30 km north of Shijiazhuang, in October 1942.
The second of six children, she was little known among the younger generation in
her hometown because she rarely returned there.
But Tian was best remembered by older villagers for
her diligence and good academic record in school. Her elder sister also spoke
highly of her for her industrious housework.
She graduated from the Zhangjiakou Agricultural
College in August 1966 and began working as a veterinarian for Shijiazhuang
Dairy company, the predecessor of Sanlu Group, in 1968. Her job then was to tend
cattle and sheep.
She rose through the ranks to become deputy head of
the plant in 1983. In 1987, she became the head, spearheading the rapid
development and expansion of Shijiazhuang Dairy and later the Sanlu Group, the
biggest Chinese seller of infant milk formula for15 straight years.
Senior employees were fond of saying "No Tian, no
Sanlu" in praise of their boss, who was known for her perseverance, low-profile
"I have never lagged behind others in college and
work," Tian had said.
Before their downfall last year, Tian and Sanlu were
the pride of Shijiazhuang. Tian was granted more than 100 honorary titles and
Sanlu was one of the top 500 businesses in China. The company signed a joint
venture agreement with New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra in December 2005, and
the joint venture started operationin June 2006.
Sanlu was the first and biggest dairy producer to
sell dairy products laced with melamine, a chemical used to make plastics which
was mixed into watered-down milk to give the appearance of higher protein
A cameraman shoots the entrance of the
Shijiazhuang Municipal Intermediate People's Court in Shijiazhuang,
capital of north China's Hebei Province, Jan. 22, 2009. (Xinhua/Wang
From Aug. 2 to Sept. 12 last year, Sanlu produced 904 tons
of melamine-tainted baby formula powder and sold 813 tons of the tainted
products, making 47.5 million yuan.
It stopped production on Sept. 12. Sanlu, which has
debts estimated at 1.1 billion yuan, has filed for bankruptcy.
On Dec. 19, the group borrowed 902 million yuan to
pay the medical fees of children sickened by its melamine-tainted baby formula
and to compensate victims.
Tian was arrested on Sept. 26 along with three other
senior executives of the company and they stood trial on Dec. 31 at the
Shijiazhuang Municipal Intermediate People's Court.
During the 14-hour trial, Tian pleaded guilty to the
charges against her.
She told the court that she learned about the tainted
milk complaints from consumers in mid-May, and then she led a working team to
handle the case.
She said she had no doubt about the standard and did
not ban melamine in its milk products afterwards.
Sources close to Tian said she treated Sanlu as her
child, perhaps prompting her at the very beginning to refute public censure and
attempt to protect the company from being severely affected by sealing off
products, recalls and other methods.
It was not until Sept. 12 that she acknowledged
publicly that Sanlu's milk powder was tainted with melamine, which finally sent
her into prison -- for life.
Former chairwoman of Sanlu Group jailed for life over China milk scandal
SHIJIAZHUANG, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Tian Wenhua, former board chairwoman of the Sanlu Group at the heart of China's tainted milks candal, was sentenced to life in prison by a local court Thursday. Full story
Sanlu Group fined nearly 50 million
yuan over melamine scandal
SHIJIAZHUANG, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Sanlu Group at the heart
of China's melamine-tainted milk scandal was fined about 50 million yuan (7.3
million U.S. dollars) and its former board chairwoman Tian Wenhua was fined more
than 20 million yuan, according to a court ruling on Thursday. Full story
Two in connection with China milk
scandal sentenced to death
SHIJIAZHUANG, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Two men in connection with China tainted milk
scandal have been sentenced to death as of 3:00 p.m. Thursday by a local
court. Full story
Chinese court to sentence 21
defendants over tainted milk powder scandal
SHIJIAZHUANG, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese court is set to
sentence 21 defendants implicated in a tainted milk powder scandal Thursday
afternoon, about three weeks after trials began late last month, a court
spokesman has said. Full story