Friday, December 21, 2007

Hero Of The Week: Barack Obama

Finally, someone is talking tough on China. Barack, for this, you're my Hero of the Week!

Warning: More of my China bashing ahead.

From Reuters via Yahoo! News:

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama said on Wednesday he would ban all toys made in China after a series of safety scares, and he called for tougher U.S. inspections of Chinese imports.

"I would stop the import of all toys from China. Now, I have to say that that's about 80 percent of toys that are being imported right now," the Illinois senator told voters in New Hampshire, which helps kick off the 2008 White House race.

Many American parents are weighing up the hazards of Chinese products while buying their children toys for Christmas next week, following recalls of millions of Chinese-made toys for lead paint and other hazards such as small magnets.

Scandals involving imported products ranging from toothpaste to pet food and fish have added to the scrutiny of Chinese goods. Beijing has acknowledged some problems but insists foreign media have hyped the issue.

— snip —

A watchdog group, Public Citizen, said in a report on Wednesday that more than 87 percent of U.S. toys are imported, a dramatic shift from the 1970s when almost 90 percent of them were produced domestically.

It blamed a torrent of toy recalls this year in part on U.S. trade agreements encouraging American toymakers to cut costs by shifting production overseas.

Obama attributed much of the problem to budget and staff cuts at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission during the Bush administration.

"We have just a handful of people who are inspecting all the toys that are flooding into the country," he said. "The big toy makers now manufacture in China and import here and they have put pressure to resist a strong regulatory system."
Then the shit hit the fan in China. From People's Daily via Yahoo! News:
China on Thursday criticized U.S. presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama's remarks of banning Chinese toys as "unobjective" and "unwise".

A vast majority of Chinese products are reliable and safe on quality, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a regular press conference.

China has repeatedly stated its stance on product safety, said Qin in response to Obama's remarks.

"China attaches great attention to product quality. A series of laws and regulations have been put into effect and effective measures have been implemented these years," he said.

No country has products that 100 percent up to standard, Qin said. "It is not objective and unwise to say no to all products due to the low quality of a small part of products," he said.

"We should not take a one-sided approach to the issue of products' safety," Qin said.

He called on American consumers to trust Chinese products and hoped Chinese products could add festive atmosphere to them during the coming Christmas holidays.
But, of course, they conveniently forgot this from The New York Daily News via Yahoo! News last week:
Will Smith's new sci-fi thriller, I Am Legend, is hitting movie theaters across Asia this month - but not in China.

The delay in the film's approval comes amid a report that China has issued a three-month ban on American movies to boost the country's domestic film industry - a move the country's regulator has denied.

"We struggled very, very hard to try to get it to work out, but there are only a certain amount of foreign films that are allowed in," Smith told reporters in Hong Kong.

In the past, Chinese regulators have tried to maximize revenue for Chinese studios by banning foreign films from theaters during holidays and school vacations, when audiences are biggest.
Banning products because they pose a public health risk to children — bad. Banning products to protect your industry and make more money — good. No wonder we can't put a dent in the trade deficit. They ban anything where we have an advantage.

Maybe Barack should have said we were going to ban Chinese toys to protect the U.S. toy making industry and used their same logic. He could have went on to ban textiles/clothing and pharmaceuticals, too, as far as I'm concerned.

Go Barack!


John said...

And if this happened, we'd have to find a different country where safety and environmental regulations are ignored to import things from so that American consumers would have things at the prices they want to pay. There are plenty of those countries, of course.

This is just a much bigger problem than China.

Michael said...

I'm with you on this one but I fear Americans love their low prices for a real ban on Chinese goods to every come to fruition. Besides that we're in debt billions of dollars to them. They own us.

Once again, I apologize to everyone for my Chinese made Christmas tree.