December 23rd, 2007
01:15 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama responds to Chinese anger over toy ban remarks

(CNN) - Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama is calling for a ban on toys with more than a trace amount of lead, continuing a back-and-forth with Chinese officials outraged over his comments earlier this week that seemed to suggest he supported an import ban on all toys made in that country.

“Over 400,000 children in the United States are currently suffering from lead poisoning from a variety of sources, including toys," his campaign said Sunday in a prepared statement. "Over 80 percent of the toys in this country come from China."

The campaign added that, in response to “reports that millions of Chinese-made toys were being recalled because of lead paint,” the Illinois senator had “directly pressured toy manufacturers and Bush administration officials to do a better job protecting American children from the threat of imported toys, especially those manufactured in China.”

“When I criticized China’s product safety standards recently, an official at China’s foreign ministry said I was being ‘unobjective, unreasonable, and unfair,’” Obama said in the same statement. “Now, don’t get me wrong: as president, I’ll work with China to keep harmful toys off our shelves. But I’ll also immediately take steps to ensure that all toys are independently tested before they reach our stores, and I’ll significantly increase penalties on companies that break the rules.”

Earlier this week, Obama said at a campaign event that he would “stop the import of all toys from China,” prompting an angry response from Chinese officials.

“Imagine if the quality of American products was not 100 percent up to standard. Could we take that as a reason to totally ban U.S. products?” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters at a Thursday briefing.

Obama’s campaign said Sunday that as president, he would also double funding for the Consumer Product Safety Commission, expand its regulatory powers, and increase fines for companies that fail to disclose known safety hazards with products they produce.

- CNN Associate Political Editor Rebecca Sinderbrand

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. rhonda,tx

    bout time someone did something. that's bonus points

    December 24, 2007 07:03 am at 7:03 am |
  2. Phil Memphis, TN

    Where to start... The lead poisoning that Obama mentions has almost nothing to do with toys. The toy issue is one that is solved very easy by the consumer. Read labels and don't buy any toys from China. you need a politician to help you with this logic? How many deaths have been reported from this lead paint in toys, and how many illnesses? Compare that to the deaths in Iraq, both American and otherwise. Compare it to how many have lost limbs and otherwise been wounded. Compare it to how many homeless people are dying in the Midwest right now due to the WEATHER. Think we can ban sub-zero temeratures and precipitation? How many people are losing their homes right now, partly due to the mortgage industry misleading the consumer about their mortgage terms. And Obama is allowing the media to trap him and stir up international animosity already over THIS. Can we please address how he will save the economy, get us out of Iraq and address a dying planet? No... I didn't think so. Sorry folks, but he is way too gullible and green. Vote for any Dem other than Obama.

    December 24, 2007 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  3. Bruce, Des Moines, Iowa

    A lot of this banter is irrelevant. Almonst any politician runs a risk of using poor word choice at a campaign event. As for a comment about Hillary... umm maybe my memory is a bit foggy, but the Clintons and China had a chummy relationship during Bill's tenure..wasn't there even political donataions or something? Anyways, the real question with Obama is this: If we elect him as President, will he do as his experience and track record provide...go campaigning for the presidency and missing a majority of his duties so he can get re-elected? Granted, one will most likely want reelection, and that takes effort and time, but how many votes a Senator for Illinois has he made? Obama may have too much experience with that for my taste..

    December 24, 2007 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  4. Adam, Sacramento

    The only thing outrageous is,

    China interfering in our electoral process criticizing candidates.

    If we interfered in their internal politics it would be a diplomatic incident.

    December 24, 2007 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  5. Rick, North Carolina

    Obama was the man until the Chinese called him down. He sure does back down from his statements easy.

    December 24, 2007 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  6. Dave, NY, NY

    At this point who cares if the Chinese are mad. For a culture that so highly values honor the acts involving the goods they export to the US are shameful. The fact that so much pressure on the Chinese government is required to get inspection procedures improved is a joke and they have earned any insults that they get.

    December 24, 2007 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  7. John, Des Moines, Iowa

    It looks like Obama staffers are posting anti-Hillary messages on this blog.

    December 24, 2007 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  8. mzcmt

    Hussein Obama should be concerned with all products from all countries..Those products coming from other countries are just as bad and almost as many... You wouldn't want to put Wal-mart out of business. Remember them. the guys that made it big with their slogan Made in America... and now have a slogan of Made anywhere but America...

    December 24, 2007 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  9. Dan, San Diego CA

    Hello Obama

    Your follow-up Statement: “Now, don’t get me wrong: as president, I’ll work with China to keep harmful toys off our shelves. But I’ll also immediately take steps to ensure that all toys are independently tested before they reach our stores, and I’ll significantly increase penalties on companies that break the rules.”

    I thank you for getting it right now. I am disappointed that you say “Now don’t get me wrong” as your initial statement was wrong, unobjective, unreasonable and unfair. You and I are both human and I value when someone gets it wrong and then acknowledges their error. Your correction is appreciated but please do not be afraid to say you got it wrong. JFK was the one president who could look an issue in the eyes and get to the roots to resolve them. I hope you too will do the same in the future.

    With Best Regards

    December 26, 2007 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  10. Ajay

    Mark, NC : December 23, 2007 8:01 pm makes a point to be noted about Bill Clinton. But Hillary Administration does not have to be the same with same mistakes of the Bill Clinton Administration. China most favored nation policy can be made to have an annual review based on past behaviour.

    Go Hillary44 08!

    December 27, 2007 07:10 am at 7:10 am |
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