Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Hey China, you talkin' to me?

The authoritarian capitalists in Beijing are resorting to threats in reaction to U.S. consumer concerns about their products. From McClatchy:
Stung by a spate of safety recalls of its products, China hinted Thursday that it might take retaliatory action against U.S. products exported to China.

Earlier this week, China rejected a batch of U.S.-made pacemakers and asserted that U.S. soybean farmers sent shipments tainted with pesticide and weeds.

On Thursday, the State Council, China's Cabinet, released a statement saying China's government would return or destroy all improperly imported meat, fruit and recycled waste by the end of the year and would improve the monitoring of other imports.

Gao Hucheng, a vice minister of commerce, pointedly reminded a news conference that China is poised to overtake Japan as the United States' third-largest export market. A Commerce Ministry handout, though, cited "discordant notes" in bilateral trade ties, citing media coverage of safety issues as among the problems.

Gao accused American news organizations of grossly exaggerating problems with China's exports. "The Chinese government thinks certain media . . . sensationalize the quality problems of Chinese products," Gao said. "Deliberate sensationalism and overstatement will not be accepted by China."
The McClatchy article goes on to quote a representative of the U.S. soybean industry calling the accusations "nonsense," which is probably a polite way of putting it.

The development is troubling in the sense that our trade policies usually put a priority on the interests of agri-business conglomerates rather than consumers, but clearly the American people are quite concerned about the safety of Chinese imports.

We don't need to be lectured to by a non-democratic regime with a lousy human rights and environmental record anyhow. China needs to pull itself, somehow, into this century and realize that American consumers will only take so much before they simply stop buying their products. I know I stopped eating shrimp for the most part when I found out how much of it is farmed in China. Unless it is clearly labeled "wild," I won't touch the stuff.

I've often thought it would be simpler for people to just go straight from Wal-Mart to the central transfer station anyhow. It would cut out the hassle of cutting through all that consumer-resistant packaging, and most of the stuff is going to wind up in the landfill anyway.

If we were righties, we would build big piles of Chinese crud and burn it in front of the traditional media. But we're not, so we'll argue for greater consumer protections and hope that Congress somehow gets its act together on that front this fall.

<< Home