Would You Like Some Wood Pulp With That?

The Associated Press reports that a Chinese bun maker was found out selling buns made of cardboard as a result of a television station’s investigation. Here’s what I find interesting: Given the recent fate of the head of China’s State Food and Drug Administration, the bureaucrats presumably have, ummm, maximum incentives to stop things like this from happening. But they happen anyway. I see two possible interpretations; both are damning to bureaucrats.

First, one can assume that the Chinese bureaucracy is so slow on its feet that, even when something like this happens and bureaucrats know that they’ll get shot for failing to act, they still don’t act.

Second, one can assume that the whole thing was stage-managed (there’s no free press in China) and the government knew that nobody would trust the State Food and Drug Administration. It planted and publicized this high-profile story in order to convince the people that someone — the media — was looking out for their interests.

I find number two a little more plausible.