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Food Safety Chief Executed for Bribery in China

As its reputation was getting a battering in the western media, the government of the Peoples Republic of China has executed Zheng Xiaoyu , a former head of the countrys Food and Drug Administration.

He was convicted of taking 6.5m yuan ($850,000; 425,400) in bribes and of dereliction of duty at a trial in May.

The bribes were linked to sub-standard medicines which had led to several deaths.

China has been criticised over a number of recent cases involving tainted goods, and correspondents say Zheng had become a symbol of the crisis.

Zheng had appealed against his sentence, arguing that it was "too severe" and saying he had confessed his crimes and co-operated with police.

But his appeal, heard in mid-June, was rejected shortly afterwards.

Following Zheng's sacking in 2005, the Chinese government announced an urgent review of about 170,000 medical licenses that were awarded during his tenure at the agency.

At a news conference in Beijing on Tuesday the State Food and Drug agency said that its supervision of safety was unsatisfactory, and it vowed to improve matters.

A five-year plan was unveiled to intensify inspections and tests on exported food. The five-year plan claims that illegal activities behind production and sale of fake and shoddy foods and pharmaceuticals will be effectively contained in future.

A senior official had said, The Chinese government attaches great importance to the safety and security of food. We stand ready to work with the international community to safeguard the quality and reputation of the Chinese food industry.

Dozens of people have died in China because of poor quality or fake food and drugs, sparking widespread international fears about the safety of Chinese exports.

Thirteen babies died of malnutrition in 2005 after being fed powdered milk that
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