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Bloomberg reports that recent accusations in the Chinese city of Chongqing that Walmart has mislabeled ordinary pork as being organic are reflective of a broader and deeper problem there that local authorities say the retailer has been slow to address.

“Wal-Mart has been quick in admitting their wrongdoings, but slow in correcting them,” Tang Chuan, the director of law enforcement at the Bureau of Inspection and Enforcement in Chongqing, tells Bloomberg. “Every time, it feels like we’re punching our fists into cotton.”

According to the story, “Tang’s bureau shuttered all of Wal-Mart’s 13 stores in the city for two weeks on Oct. 9 and detained 37 people after the retailer labeled ordinary pork as organic, the most severe punishment in China since the company entered the country in 1996. U.S. and European business groups have complained of unfair treatment of foreign companies in China, where Wal-Mart has grown to 353 stores from eight in a decade ...  Chongqing fined Wal-Mart 3.65 million yuan ($573,000) after 12 of 13 stores in Chongqing were found to have sold the mislabeled pork. Wal-Mart pledged to cooperate with the investigation, which saw two employees arrested and another 35
people detained. Tang would not comment on the status of those cases.”

Walmart has refused to comment on the accusations.
KC's View:
Walmart may not be responding to the charges, but a lot of people will think that it already has responded with the resignations this week - for so-called “personal reasons” - of Ed Chan, president of its China operations, and Clara Wong, who ran human resources there. That whole “personal reasons” thing didn’t seem credible when it was announced, and seems far less so now.

Walmart does talk, with justifiable pride, about how much money it has invested in places like China. But this episode - ironic though it may be because of China’s own systemic problems in the areas of food labeling and food safety - shows that it is more than just about the bucks.