December 21st, 2007
07:42 PM ET
14 years ago

China blasts Obama call for toy ban

Obama is taking heat from China.

(CNN) – Angry Chinese officials are taking aim at Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama over his statement that he would “stop the import of all toys from China.”

The Illinois senator’s remarks, which came at an Iowa campaign stop Wednesday, were “unobjective, unreasonable and unfair,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters at a Thursday briefing. “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?”

Members of Congress have demanded stricter enforcement of U.S. imports of Chinese goods over the past year following several recalls of potentially dangerous products, including toys tainted with lead. But Obama’s comments are the harshest to date from a major presidential candidate.

This is not the first time Obama has drawn criticism from foreign officials. Shortly after the senator officially entered the presidential race, former Australian Prime Minister John Howard slammed him over his opposition to the war in Iraq, and his calls to withdraw U.S. troops by spring 2008.

“I think that will just encourage those who want to completely destabilize and destroy Iraq, and create chaos and a victory for the terrorists to hang on and hope for an Obama victory,” Howard said in an Australian television interview.

Obama immediately responded that he was flattered that one of President Bush’s closest allies "started attacking me the day after I announced - I take that as a compliment."

His campaign has not yet responded to the latest foreign attack.

– CNN’s Emily Sherman

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (251 Responses)
  1. Phil, Memphis, TN

    Another example that Obama has no clue abnout what it really takes to do the job. He has already offended allies and enemies alike. we have had enough of that over the last seven years. I was hoping for Edwards/Obama in 208, but after seeing more and more of this, I am leaning toward Edwards and Clinton in either order.

    December 21, 2007 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  2. Aidyn, NY

    Obama again showing his inexperience. As president he cannot make mistakes like that.

    December 21, 2007 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  3. Dan, NJ

    I can just hear the HRC staffers preparing an "Obama is inexperienced" attack out of this.

    December 21, 2007 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  4. demwit

    I hear Hillary is coming out with a new bill tomorrow..

    December 21, 2007 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  5. Biggdawg

    And of course there was also that little flap with Pakistan about unauthorized bombing this past summer which, according to Pakistani officials, led to a brief period of unrest and Marshall law. Of all people, no less than Bush himself appeared statesmanlike in quelling the concerns of Pakistani officials during that incident.

    Oh yeah. Big pile of foreign policy judgement in this candidate alright.

    Hillary's right to point out the foreign policy, inexperience thing.

    December 21, 2007 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  6. Ron, TX

    What matters more? Appeasing China, or protecting OUR children?

    December 21, 2007 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  7. Cat, Costa Mesa, CA

    That last little quip is quite arrogant and irresponsible! Just proves, this man has no foreign affairs experience, has no clue how to deal with difficult situations, and is not fit to run the country. Burning bridges with international allies BEFORE you even get in office? Mark that one down as STUPID!!

    December 21, 2007 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  8. Ellis, Brown University, RI

    anyone can tell that "We should stop all toy imports from China" is an oversimplification of what Obama said, he didn't actually say just that. He was most likely outlining a list of different possible solutions and scenarios.

    If Obama may have spent less tiem in Washington than Hillary, but I prefer his foreign policy judgement (re: Iraq, Iran) to Hillary's any day.

    Obama '08

    December 21, 2007 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  9. ed setser, myrtle beach, sc

    I'm an Edwards supporter and I wished he had the chutzpah to say it first. It's about time somebody rattle their cage.

    December 21, 2007 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  10. Eli, Marietta Ohio

    Well isn't about time someone stood up and stopped the flood of dangerous toys and imports from China. This is the safety and security of the American people we are talking about. Until China puts standards and practices in place that protect people in America, we should not import toys from China, and I am glad that Obama is standing up for the safety of the American people.

    December 21, 2007 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  11. lavelle Rochester,ny

    inexperienced for taking a stand for our children???

    You people are crazy lets continue to let the Chinese government run our country with cheap labor and continue to pay for our debt. We need to become independent again and start looking at products that say MADE IN THE U.S.A. not Made in China!

    Is that what you people want?

    December 21, 2007 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    It's about time that a candidate for the presidency has the courage to state the obvious. Chinese made toys are a clear and present danger. How many more million toys need to be recalled before we do put a stop to these insidious imports. Republicans, and especially the Bush administration, always put commerce first and the health and well being of our children way down the list of priorities. Thank you Mr. Obama, for speaking out in no uncertain terms.

    Jeff, Maui, HI: December 21, 2007

    December 21, 2007 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  13. Jeff Sacramento, CA

    If someone doesn't take a stand against dangerous imports from, ANYWHERE...who will? If either Phil or Aidynn had children, and they were hurt or killed from a dangerous product, their tunes might change.

    We're not talikng about a small mistake, or a one time event. Its a complete lack of reguard for western health and safety standards. Toothpaste w/ antifreeze in it isn't acceptable anywhere. Pet food that kills our animals? Aqua dots that metabolise to GHB? 1.5 million "Thomas The Tank Engine" toys alone. That just names a FEW INCIDENTS THIS YEAR ALONE.

    I think, to the contrary. It takes a strong leader to make a stand for the American people, children, as well as our pets. He's making a stand aginst free wheeling big business, and importers that can't adhere to health and safety standards.

    December 21, 2007 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  14. Phil, Memphis, TN

    Oh yeah, rattling the cage is just what we need. It worked so well with the Axis of Evil.

    December 21, 2007 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  15. C. K. Justus WI

    Hurry for Obama, I agree with him a hundred percent and I would have already banned them.
    Not only that I would bring charges against them through the WTO for dumping fake goods into the USA. Also if they would not let any of our products into their country, I would ban at least one of theirs.
    It would be free trade or no trade. I am tired of the multi-national corporations sending our jobs to China and we get nothing in return. If they would not let the free flow of goods from the USA into China, then I would not let the free flow of goods into the USA from China.

    December 21, 2007 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  16. J, CA

    Obama is already a Clown among international community, and I wonder how he's going to repair US image that has been destroyed by Bush policies. This is exactly why this guy never going to be president. His comments regarding Howard is very undiplomatic and childish. Not to forget his threats against Pakistan president as well. Just go away Obama without spoiling democrats' chances in 2008.

    December 21, 2007 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  17. jaywheatley

    A blanket ban on toys from China could destroy the U.S. toy industry (remember, about 75% of all toy sales dollars go to U.S. companies even if they are "manufactured" in China - we invent, design, write, illustrate, market, distribute and sell them here - all high-paid jobs, unlike manufacturing). Banning toys from China will NOT fix any problem and will create many more. It's like doing surgery with a sledge-hammer. Mostly, it will force toy manufacturers to move manufacturing to LESS SOPHISTICATED/SAFE countries like Malaysia or Vietnam or wherever else they can be made cheap enough for the discount stores that control retail sales of toys, and cheap enough for American consumers. Obama's policy is the international trade version of “Whac-A-Mole”. His "solution" does NOT match his thoughtful, reasonable see-both-sides-and-find-a-real-solution message he professes elsewhere, like in his book.

    December 21, 2007 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  18. anna, las vegas, nv

    I hardly see how this is inexperience. It looks to me like the man is actually committed to NOT letting money and power sway him over consumer safety.

    December 21, 2007 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  19. Lee-- Dallas, TX

    This is what America needs. Someone who will step up and not be afraid to speak out against big players such as Chinese manufactures. Obama has made a bold statement in protecting the future of America; the children, which seems to be a dramatic difference and change from others running for the presidency.

    If China is not willing to completely restructure how they do business with the United States of America, we need a leader who will stand up for the American people; not big business.

    December 21, 2007 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  20. Censor me again CNN, Roxboro, NC

    The only reason to overcomplicate matters is to allow more wiggle room for dishonesty. If Obama said he'd stop imports from any and all of our unfair trade partners,,, He'll get my vote! The only thing besides guns America exports is our jobs! Thanks a lot you overpaid politicians!

    December 21, 2007 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  21. Tewde, FL

    Give me a break. Dont give us this foreign policy experience BS, in fact China needs to be banned from exporting toys to the US if there is no strict regulation on monitoring especially done by the Chinese govt. It is there responsibility to do that, until it is banned they will not see the seriousness of this issue. So yes, I agree with Obama and no matter how unpopular what he says may be, it shows how much guts he has, unlike many people on this blog, cmon, give us a break

    December 21, 2007 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  22. Jeff Sacramento, CA

    Cat. What makes China one of our allies? Is it thier lack of consideration for health and safety standards? I mean heck, its not their kids, RIGHT! Is it because their freedom of speech, media, or internet? NO. Is it how they allow their currency to float against the dollar making their exports cheeper, and our exports more expensive?

    Get you head out of the clouds. All the Chineese want or care for us is an open market for their shoddy exports. The American worker has suffered because of their policy's. Our economy has suffered.

    Maybe they'll consider using more fair economic policy's if we choose to limit their ability to import cheep and DANGEROUS products!

    December 21, 2007 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  23. Justin, Columbus, OH

    Criticized by China AND John Howard? Must be doing something right! He wants a couple hundred thousand US soldiers there but how many Australian troops was he willing to offer to stave off 'chaos'? Ah, the majestic call of the rare and precious Australian chicken hawk...

    December 21, 2007 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  24. Mark, Shreveport, La

    Maybe Obama should call for a halt to the manufacture of cars since we've had a few recalls.Or how about we stop producing meat since we've had some recalls this year of beef products?

    This shows the man is too naive to be president

    December 21, 2007 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  25. John, Des Moines, Iowa

    It is unrealistic to think that we can ban import of all toys from China. Obama's comments show how inexperienced and unrealistic he is. If HRC had said the same thing, entire media would have attacked her viciously.

    December 21, 2007 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
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