The instinct to spare another person embarrassment is a noble one. To correct mistakes discreetly and save the dignity of the offender is virtuous. But saving one’s own face at the expense of others is universally regarded as despicable, and when the “others” are babies likely to sicken and die it is downright criminal. Yet the latter kind of face-saving is exactly what the protagonists in China’s current baby-milk scandal seem guilty of, and they are not the first to offend in this way. The Chinese way of saving face needs a thorough overhaul, and this crisis would be the perfect opportunity to set the reform in motion.
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