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Chinese Products Unsafe

I sent my wife this Reuters article about a recall on some wooden “Thomas and Friends” toys this morning because the children of some friends of our plays with them. Steven Taylor, though, noted something more within the rubric of the blog, though, deeper into the piece:

Thomas and Friends Toy Recall A selection of 'Thomas and Friends' wooden railway toys, in an undated image released by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. More than 1 million of the popular 'Thomas and Friends' wooden railway toys made in China are being voluntarily recalled because some may contain lead paint, the CPSC said on Wednesday. (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission/Handout/Reuters)

The recall of toys made in China follows a series of health scandals in the United States involving food, drugs and other products imported from China, from poisoned cough syrup to tainted toothpaste and pet food.

It’s a worrisome trend, indeed. I had missed the news of tainted toothpaste and cough syrup but the pet food scandal has certainly garnered international attention. As Steven observes,

For all the talk of China becoming an economic superpower, they are going to face a tough road if people are going to start associating “Made in China” with “Made with Poison.”

Quite.

The irony is that China has managed to combine the worst elements of capitalism with the worst elements of Communism: a repressive regime that provides no safety regulation. The demands of the global marketplace will force them to change, at least on the latter front, over time. People want cheap goods and most of us will overlook human rights abuses in the countries providing them. We won’t accept unsafe products, however.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    As you know, James, I’ve been covering the recall of pet foods made with Chinese-supplied wheat and rice gluten that had been adulterated with melamine and related substances for a couple of months on a daily or near-daily basis. IMO that this story feeds into protectionist reflexes is a bad byproduct of the story.

    There are a number of things to recall:

    1) However bad the situation with unsafe Chinese-made foods, additives, and pharmaceuticals, it’s that much worse in China itself.

    2) There is, for practical purposes, no such thing as an international civil code.

    3) Not all of the fault lies with the Chinese. Where is the due diligence on the part of U. S. companies?

    4) There are many, many products in which there’s no practical way to wean ourselves from Chinese products. These include things from vitamins (and vitamin-fortified foods) to computer memories. Worried about U. S. dependence for energy? I’m worried about U. S. dependence on China for computer memories.

    What’s the bottom line? Beats me. I think that what is needed is country-of-origin labelling for ingredients and serious enforcement thereof but those aren’t even on the agenda. Of course companies don’t want to do it. But I see no other way for consumers to make informed decisions about what they buy.

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  2. Anderson says:

    What a useless effing Reuters article … how about LINKING TO THE RECALL NOTICE?

    The MSNBC article at least lists the recalled toys, tho of course, do I still have the packaging the toy came in? Of course not.

    Here’s the recall notice.

    And the cough-syrup story scared the hell out of me. Guess how many bottles of kids’ cough syrup at Wal-Mart say what country they’re made in? None, on my last visit.

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  3. The irony is that China has managed to combine the worst elements of capitalism with the worst elements of Communism:

    I wonder if this isn’t inevitable when you try to separate property rights from other rights?

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  4. Rick DeMent says:

    I wonder if this isn’t inevitable when you try to separate property rights from other rights?

    I wonder if this isn’t inevitable when the goal is to make as much money as you can for shareholders? This is exactly what happened in the this country in the latter half of the 19th century before food and drug regulations were passed despite the fact that property rights and “other rights” were fairly well spelled out.

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  5. Anderson says:

    This is exactly what happened in the this country in the latter half of the 19th century before food and drug regulations were passed despite the fact that property rights and “other rights” were fairly well spelled out.

    Word. Maybe China is the great new libertarian hope?

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