3. Pork Fries Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart (WMT) keeps repeating that its China chief did not get chopped over bad pork. But we still think something's not kosher over there.
The world's biggest retailer said Monday that Ed Chan, the president of Wal-Mart China since 2007, is stepping down to be replaced by Scott Price, president of Wal-Mart Asia. A company spokesman emphasized that Chan's departure was for personal reasons and unrelated to the recent charges that Wal-Mart was passing off regular pork as higher-priced organic meat in the city of Chongqing, an accusation which resulted in a fine, the arrests of two employees and 13 temporary store closures. Wal-Mart currently boasts 353 stores and a workforce of approximately 100,000 in China.
"There is no correlation", said Wal-Mart spokesman Anthony Rose.Really Mr. Rose? Literally and figuratively speaking, it sure sounds like a pig in a poke to us. It turns out that Chan is not the only Wal-Mart executive in China taking off. Clara Wong, senior vice president for human resources in China, also quit this week for personal reasons, although once again Rose denies l'affaire du porc Chinois had anything to do with her leaving. And you know what they say, one's a point, two's a trend. And the collusion may not all be on Wal-Mart's side either. Since 2006, Wal-Mart has been busted by Chongqing's cops almost two dozen times for selling expired or uninspected food and false advertising. And while food safety is a sensitive issue in China, especially after the tainted infant formula episode in 2008, many industry analysts say Chongqing officials are unfairly cracking down on Wal-Mart in order to gain political points ahead of big leadership changes in the coming year. Wal-Mart says it's cooperating with Chongqing investigators, but like their counterparts in China, the party bosses in Bentonville, Ark., have historically kept a tight lid on information coming out of the company. And as the famous philosopher once said, "Knowledge is power." You know who that philosopher was? Francis Bacon. Yep, like the "bacon" that comes from a pig. You see. It all comes together. Who's conspiracy theory is crazy now, huh?
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