Image: Flickr/ShardsOfBlue

China with a government famed for its openness and democracy… has been sued by a campaigner over their failure to disclose information about the standards of milk.  

The Economic Observer reports that after a new standard for fresh milk was set an individual, under the country’s Freedom of Information Act, asked for minutes of the meetings where the standards where set.

The Ministry of Health denied the request so he took them to court – which ruled in his favour.

The Observer reports:

On Dec 2, 2011, a consumer by the name of Zhao Zhenjun (赵正军) lodged a freedom of information request with the Ministry of health, asking that they make public the minutes of the meetings at which the setting of the new milk standard was discussed.

On Jan 20, 2012, after three requests had been lodged, the Ministry of Health replied by saying that the information that Mr. Zhao requested did not fall under the remit of the FOI laws.

The Ministry of Health also said that the request should have been directed towards the Food Safety National Standards Approval Committee (食品安全国家标准审评委员会), not the Ministry of Health.

The Ministry also went on to say that if the minutes of these mettings were released it could “impact on social stability and add to their administrative burden.”

You can read the full story here. 

I am a journalist and author. I am a staff writer at the UK edition of WIRED magazine and in 2015 my book, Freedom of Information: A Practical Guide for UK Journalists, was published. I created FOI Directory in 2012.