China, Lead Contamination, James Fallows’ Diet

By August 17, 2007Trade

The Atlantic Monthly’s James Fallows at his blog puts the recent news about lead-contaminated toys from China in a broader context, in a way that makes some sense. He describes China’s dichotomies — the highest of the high-tech in a sprawling, poor country.

Purchasers just looking for something cheap from China will get it — cheap in every sense of the term. That’s not China’s fault: it’s early stage industrialization. Britain’s factory life was dirty, slipshod, and dangerous in Charles Dickens’s era, and America’s was in the day of Upton Sinclair. And, frankly, American consumers just looking for something cheap will get it too.

So avoid Chinese toys if you feel you must. But let’s not make this the basis for a big fiesta of anti-China-ism. The factories here can be perfectly safe — as the best ones are, when middlemen and consumers around the world are willing to pay the price. And before you imagine a giant Chinese plot to poison Americans, think of the people who pay the greatest personal price for unsafe food and products: the average Chinese citizens who eat and use this stuff every single day. Along with me.

Ah, interesting. Fallows mentioned his risky eating habits in a recent interview on “America’s Business with Mike Hambrick,” which we’re featuring over at the Americasbusinessblog. From the transcript (which you can read over there):

People know that America is a big and diverse country. China is a really big and very really diverse country, and so you have simultaneously – and I’ve seen them – plants that are as good as ones that are in the United States. I’ve seen places where basically all the IBM, Lenovo Think Pads in the world are made. That’s a very advanced plant. Intel has advance plants here. On the other hand, there are scenes out of the Middle Ages practically, people doing welding in bare feet, and the famous, you know, food-safety issues that we’ve heard about. (laughs) Tell your listeners, they’re worried about sometimes eating Chinese food. Think of me, that’s all I eat here …

OK….Although, there’s American fast food in China, right?

Anyway, really interesting interview with Fallows. Highly recommended.

UPDATE (2:05 p.m.): Another post at the Atlantic/Fallows blog, agrees with the WSJ editorial — an exception, apparently — that the magnet problem is one of design, not manufacture.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Kishi says:

    Inspecting should be one of the import processes. Regard this as and warn to promote goods quality. Anti-China trade or boycott won’t be the way to solve the promblems.
    There would be a reason for people who outsourcing to China.While China will fight on the anti-dumping claims, it will also continue to review and revise its own trade structure to improve its trade balance (and international relations)
    Say, U.S.A. needs to strengthen the export of China in order to guarantee its trade balance from the other side.
    Demand for many US products in China are very strong,but there are few, if any, effective methods for US SMF’s to access Chinese buyers and meet the demand. AC-Ali enables US businesses to list their company and product descriptions in English. AmeriChinaB2B will translate these descriptions in Chinese and put them on its China Business platform which attracts a large number of Chinese importers and distributors looking for American products to import to China. Welcome to AmeriChinaB2B( ) to begin your business trip of China.

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