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Condom Trade Should Be Unbridled
The recent verdict by the First Intermediary Court of Beijing on an condom production enterprise of Wuhan refracted the restriction on the development of the condom trade in China as a whole. This is the reality in which hundreds of millions of consumers have been deprived of the rights of choice to be informed. Therefore, the question here is who has cordoned the condom trade? Can the trade be set free?

In May 2002, Qingdao-London International Latex Co. Ltd. lodged a prosecution to the court against Wuhan Jissbon Sanitary Product Co. Ltd. on the pretext of "improper competition". After hearing the case the court held that the propaganda "Jissbon is the world's No.1 brand-name" was utterly groundless and it was a kind of false propagation, thereby having it ruled that Jissbon stop at once all its false propaganda and compensate the losses.

A "well-known" enterprise of the trade was doing false advertisement. To give the condom out free of charge can not be carried on and the market supply is in disorder. The present situation of condom trade cast worries over the people, pointed out the experts, Li Honggui, full-time Vice President of the Chinese Association of Demography, Li Yinhe, Research-fellow of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Li Kejian, Director of the Development Center for Contraceptive Devices of the National Family Planning Commission.

For a long time, China has been carrying out a "dual practices" as to the administration of contraceptive devices, namely to give out free of charge and to be sold in the market with the giving-out as the major means for supply. However, at present to give out free of charge is facing great difficulties. Every year the state buys in 1200 million condoms for giving-out free. Only 4 percent of the married women use them, the expense of which was as high as RMB 200 million yuan. If the groups of people for giving out free are expanded it is hardly able for the financial sector to support it.

We've seen the rises and falls of giving out free and being sold in the market. To be sold in the market has already taken over half of the business. However, the "Regulation on Banning Advertisements of Products for Sexual Life" as issued by National Industry and Commerce Bureau in 1989 put a gag on the way for enterprises to do normal advertisements. And so they couldn't enjoy a healthy development, hence the frequent variations of queer phenomena.

We've also seen a great disorder in the supply of contraceptive condoms in the market and the quality of the products makes the users feel worried. The administrative station of contraceptive devices for family planning, condom production units, intermediary agents and small peddlers, in a word people of all walks of life can do the wholesale business, but the set enterprises for producing the condoms in the country come only to a meager seven of them. Contrary to this, those doing the packing add up to hundreds of them with over thousand brand names. In the first half of 2001, the Quality Control and Monitoring Center for Contraceptive Devices of the National Family Planning Commission made a sample check over the retailing markets for the contraceptive devices in nine cities of five provinces. It was discovered that only 70 percent of the products were up to the standard.

The system for the administration of the condoms cannot keep pace with the present situation. A great number of flowing population, unmarried adult-groups, knocked-off and unemployed workers in cities and those suffering from venereal diseases and AIDS, they've become an "vacant belt" among the highly dangerous colony of people.

The "mainstream being short of vitality", the market system being deformed, the right of choice of being informed for the rank and file cannot be guaranteed, who's responsible for unbridling the difficult plight for the contraceptive condoms? Experts suggest, while the legislation and policy is being worked out for lifting the ban, experience from foreign lands can be taken over for reference. In exception of giving-out free and being sold in the market, "social marketing" can also be introduced by installing along streets the slot vending machines to sell at a lower price. While paying attention to strengthening the supervision the state has, in accordance with the policy for the population and family planning in the country, to create certain conditions for guaranteeing people the rights of choice of being informed the safe, effective and suitable measures for carrying out the family planning regulation, thereby stepping up the pace in "lifting the ban" on the advertisements for condoms, and so on and so forth.

(People's Daily January 29, 2003)

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