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. michelle

    Jim, Earl and James

    Does anyone else remember foreign officials taking aim at presidential primary candidates? I'd be eager to hear some examples…

    Yes, Jim. Her name is Hillary. Hillary brought up this same subject last month and the chinese government criticized her as well. Yahoo it.

    No, wait. Here is one: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20071123/pl_afp/usvote2008chinaclinton

    Surprising isn't it, Earl?

    December 22, 2007 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  2. humgrad, iowa city, ia

    So Sen. Obama, who has only been in the senate for two years- during which time he has missed nearly 80% of his votes- has made both China and Australia angry already. Is this the kind of foreign policy we need? And only yesterday, British diplomats- who recognized that Obama has only visited Europe once or twice in his life- expressed concern that Obama's foreign experience resembled too closely the lack of foreign policy experience with which Pres. Bush entered office in 2001.

    Don't we desperately need something better?

    Go MITT 2008!

    December 22, 2007 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  3. jmaya, iowa

    Why is he attacking China? Perhaps he should be attacking the American Companies that are taking jobs away from American Citizens so that the CEOs of these companies can fatten their packets. So if China is prevented from shipping toys to the US, will the Thomas the Tank Engine train be stamped with "Made in the USA". For some reason I don't think that will occur. American companies will simply find another country to exploit.
    Posted By Sam I Am, NY : December 21, 2007 10:12 pm

    I like your comment 100%; It's American greedy business that is destroying our home and destroying our generation. It has nothing to do with Chinese product. These CEO who die for money will find another developing company to make toys with lead paint.

    Obama Hussein Barack is 100% inexperience to make those statements; you silly boy Hussein makes me laugh when i hear your speeches.

    December 22, 2007 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  4. Jose Card

    November 15, 2007
    "Clinton calls for closer eye on U.S. imports"

    http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2007/11/15/clinton-calls-for-closer-eye-on-us-imports/

    "If we don't impose a third party independent investigative arm on our corporations that do business in China, as well as the Chinese government, we should not permit any items to be imported into our country," she said.

    Why didn't China blast on Hillary when she threatened to ban Chinese imports if they don't shape up back in November?

    Now China hammered on Obama's similar comments on Chinese imports to the U.S.

    This may have explained why Norman Hsu and many other Chinese donors showered Hillary with mysterious legal and illegal donations. Hillary had to return nearly one million dollars of donations from Hsu.

    Perhaps that's why Bill claims to be a world-class genius with a smirk.

    What's the real deal between the Clintons and the Chinese?

    Whom can you trust?

    December 22, 2007 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  5. Arthur, Immokalee, Florida

    Importing and exporting goods is one of the most critical issues of foreign policy. Considering how popular imported toys from China are in the United States, this Christmas season would definitely not be over without marking the 2008 American presidential. After presidential candidate Biden, Obama has decided to point the finger at China over the safety of its manufactured toys. And once again, Obama has made the legitimate difference in leadership by jeopardizing his credentials as a leader.
    From the war in Iraq to a potential war in Iran and now the importation of toys from China, Obama has been only been showing his not so popular but justified and strong judgment on issues that affect our lives as Americans. He may not be the most experienced character but he surely is showing that he can redefine "the politics as usual" format in Washington only by willing to go beyond the status quo. That is definition of a strong leader.
    It is so unfortunate that we have so many introvert minded people who measure life up to their level or capacity of reflection. Thousands of words are being used to describe other candidates but only two-naive and inexperienced, are used to describe Obama on any subject. That is so senseless. I may be wrong but I think it’s because everything now has to do with campaign war between Obama and Hillary.
    It is a proven fact toys imported from China are not safe. Most of them are poisoned and the worst is that we do not have any effective inspection team at work to control them. The fact that they are well aware of the situations and not showing credible effort to solve, I think some action must be taken until we get our team at work and they get their act together.
    Many people claimed that Obama's position on the issue is naive and inexperienced, only because that would affect the Chino-American business relation. How ridiculous! That man is a U.S. Senator who has swore to serve and protect his country. He is only doing his job. He is talking about what the president should have considered a long time ago. He is talking about what the whole Congress should have been doing. He is doing what every father and mother should have been calling for.
    Our kids are being poisoned. Are we trading our kids' lives over political agreement? Who has the duty to defend America, Obama or Qin Gang? Come on America. Over the past few years, members of Congress have demanded stricter enforcement of U.S. China goods but only to see the worst happening. It's time for an executive decision just like other countries have done to some U.S. products when we fail to meet their safety standards.
    I am not supporting Obama but as a father, I thank him for his position on the issue. Hopefully, he will not stop defending our interests whether or not he wins the democratic nomination for the 2008. His idea is not popular. But let’s not forget how supportive we were of the war in Iraq. Is America safer today?

    December 22, 2007 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  6. Dan, San Diego CA

    As an importer and frequent visitor of Chinese factories, Obama has demonstrated his lack of understanding of the Chinese people. The Chinese factory owners and the workers of the factories are genuinely good hearted people who want to make a better life for themselves through providing quality products on a global basis. There are bad apples all around the world and to be very honest I have fond fewer of them in China than other places including this country. I love America but it discuss me when a generalization is made like the arrogant one made by Obama about other countries. Obama needs to walk the streets of China, eat in the restaurants where the general public eats at and visit the factories filled by people who are dedicated to providing the world quality manufactured goods. Again I am an American in heart and love to see made in America but the people of the world are good people too.

    Obama, you owe the people of China an apology.

    December 22, 2007 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  7. Ny, Toronto, Canada

    Obama's statement shows how inexperienced he is with regard to foreign policy.
    Who knows, if he becomes president, he may say this: " We will bomb China and Russia into the stone age if they don’t tow our line.”

    He is not fit to be a president of the U.S.

    December 22, 2007 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  8. Jose Card

    "Obama, you owe the people of China an apology." – Dan, San Diego, CA.

    After millions of recalled Chinese toys, Obama wants to ban Chinese toys, not the Chinese people. I think Dan is overstretching Obama's statements here. "There are always good and bad people in every country." There are, of course, plenty of good people in China. Among the billions of people in China, I am sure they have more than a few bad apples, who would add toxic chemicals to products sold to not only Americans, but also Chinese.

    Obama is talking factually, while Dan is talking emotionally after frequent trips to China as an importer. Dan wants to watch his pocketbook. We want to protect our future generations.

    I agree with Dan that the Chinese workers are good people, but many of them are also victims of the Chinese economic expansion with some Americans' helping hands. If you go to the China Blog on
    http://www.time.com,
    you will read first-hand how some Chinese think of Americans in China. They are called white trash or worse.

    Perhaps Dan may consider an apology to the angry exploited Chinese workers and our children, who grew up with toxic Chinese toys. Recently, Lou Dobbs on CNN reported that some Chinese-made baby bibs also contain lead.

    Some of these cheap workers are also children. American companies probably won't tolerate the negative publicity that goes with hiring 10-year olds, otherwise they will hire cheaper child labor and claim to be heroes in helping their families. Greed can drive many people insane. We cannot trust the Chinese products, because they have possibly the worst corruptions in the world. With corruptions, there is no rule of law. Since we cannot sue Chinese contractors from the U.S., the only protection we have is to ban their products. Mattel apologized to the Chinese government for ruining their reputation, not to the American children, who have had more lead than their little body can take.

    Somebody posted that Americans are just cheap so they buy Chinese. The problem is that after millions of jobs were lost overseas, Wal-Mart and Chinese toys are what many Americans can afford.

    Why do we want to invest in China only? Why would you put all your eggs in one basket? That's exactly what happened to Mattel. Another toy company, Hasbro is doing well and they diversify their investments.

    Obama hit the nail right on the head.
    If we continue being a trade victim to China, we are acting like a country of lead heads already.

    December 22, 2007 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  9. Braden, Raleigh, NC

    I agree with Dan, San Diego CA – China is not the enemy, our own consumerism is. The Chinese people are some of the kindest people on the planet. I don't think Obama meant to offend anyone, but don't try to make someone else the scapegoat for your own personal excesses. Find ways to do without all the garbage in your life. You can't take it with you and it doesn't make you any better as a person.

    December 23, 2007 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  10. Fair,Washington DC

    There he goes, attacking Hillary Clinton again. I wonder if the media and viewers will give him another pass at negative campaigning, while blasting Hillary for defending herself. On the substance of his c0mments: it's hypocritical for Obama to 1) insist he's the new "change" candidate and at the same time 2) boast that he's a friend of Clinton advisors from the 90s. Can't have it both ways, Barack. If the Clinton era of the 90s is so stale, why would you associate yourself with anyone from that administration? Obama is NOT authentic.

    Posted By Robyn, San Diego : December 22, 2007 10:08 am

    Robyn thanks for letting me know I'm not the only one who see's the Senator from Illinois talking out of both sides of his mouth..."change", new ideas, "getting away from the old way of doing things in Washington"...but using the same advisors from the Clinton camp, the same ones from that "washington esatablishment of old" that he snidely tries to put down when its convenient.

    December 23, 2007 01:24 am at 1:24 am |
  11. Kim, Dallas, TX

    Are you serious? Or was this a joke?

    What is wrong with you people? There is no problem with Chinese toys that the free market won't fix if we can just prevent the Lib-Commie-Socialist-leftwingers from ruining it. It's simple Econ 101.

    As more children die from lead poisoning, their parents will tend to purchase toys from other retailers. The 'invisible hand' of the market will gradually direct retailers to stop buying toys from producers who use lead-based paints. Over the years, we will see fewer and fewer children dying or getting sick.

    Mainly, what America really needs is a big tax cut to stimulate the economy so parents will be able to afford to buy more toys for their children every Christmas. That would put Christ back into Christmas, now, wouldn't it.

    Vote Conservative.

    Posted By Terry, El Paso, TX :

    Are you saying that we just keep buying Chinese toys knowing all along that they are going to kill our kids...then just wait until enough of them have died to end up not buying those products due to a lack of demand? I thought I couldn't be surprised by the lack of compassion with some people, but this comment simply cannot be serious??? Do you have children? I protect mine and expect that our country would do the same. Can you imagine the lawsuits that would happen if this were the way we handled things? All of that money you think you would be saving would certainly be eaten up by the legal system.

    December 23, 2007 01:58 am at 1:58 am |
  12. GRACE

    SENATOR OBAMA... I THINK WHAT SOME
    FOLKS ARE SAYING IS... IT'S O.K. TO
    DESTROY A COUNTRY... OR THREATEN THEM
    WITH WORLD WAR III... OR CALL THEM
    NAMES.... AXIS OF EVIL..... BUT
    DON'T DARE INTERFERE WITH OIL OR
    DANGEROUS FOREIGN IMPORTS OR OSAMA
    BIN LADEN, WHO FOR SOME REASON DOES
    NOT INTEREST THE WHITE HOUSE.

    December 23, 2007 02:10 am at 2:10 am |
  13. michelle, Fort Lauderdale FL

    Jim, Earl and James

    Does anyone else remember foreign officials taking aim at presidential primary candidates? I'd be eager to hear some examples…

    Yes, Jim. Her name is Hillary. Hillary brought up this same subject last month (and in August to the Consumer Product Safety Commission) and the chinese government criticized her publicly as well. I beleive they called it slander. Look it up.

    Surprising isn't it, Earl?

    December 23, 2007 02:40 am at 2:40 am |
  14. Gregg Davis El Paso TX

    I totally agree with Senator Obama. Not only would this action make a safer America for children, but would bring some jobs back to America. He has my vote in part because he doesn't skirt around issues.

    December 23, 2007 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  15. Surrealist, Fort Myers, FL

    Rigid standards should be enforced. The cavalier manner that China uses to regulate their manufacturing, food, and pharmaceutical industry–should give us alarm. If they don't improve on their own–I say we let them sell their crap to the Chinese people–not Americans. Lets cut some chinese jobs and bring the quality back to the US–make the name "Made In America" important and valued again.

    December 23, 2007 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  16. Surrealist, Fort Myers, FL

    Most Americans taxes are making them suffer. It's the cost of all the goods and services they need to survive and compete in the modern industrialized world of the 21St Century. What most Americans need is a "pay raise" not a "tax cut"–vote Democratic and make everybody pay their fair share to the tax man.

    December 23, 2007 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  17. Dan, San Diego Ca

    Hello Jose Card,

    Without a doubt I will apologize to those who I place in harms way. In fact that is what was done by the corporation who brought these products across. Not only did they apologize to the consumer but to the Chinese government for themselves not putting into place metrics to review quotes and completed goods that would prevent such issues from arising. I applaud this corporation for publicly making these statements, I can now move on and purchase their product without protest; they see the root issue and are addressing it. That is where Obama should have directed his attention. Ensuring metrics are in place that prevents such situations from occurring. When a supplier system chooses based upon the lowest bid and that very bid resulted in a losing proposition for the supplier unless he use unsafe materials there is a system issue. Obama demonstrated to me that he does not understand the root issue. If Obama had said we need to put into place metrics to protect the consumer from processes that lead to unsafe toys I would be applauding him. To make a statement that we need to stop importing toys from China demonstrated he is uneducated on the topics, speaking to rally an emotional vote in a very irresponsible way or both, I have a feeling it is the latter and that is scary to me. We need a president who looks for the root issue and addresses that, not one who leads through rallying people behind them emotionally based upon false reality.

    As to exploiting children, you too need to visit the factories in China with an eye on where it was 20 years ago. You need to walk the streets and see the interaction between parent and child and witness the family interactions around dinner time within the restaurants frequented by the common worker. Is the work environment perfect today, no… in fact I too could bring cameras over there and say look there is a youth sitting next to their parent on an assembly line and tell America how China does not care to create a story of false pretence! But this would tell you that I am uneducated on the big picture and emotionally charged. The fact though, I continue to observe a system that is changing towards the better. What was America like at the start of the industrial revolution? I was not around but I think it might have parallels to China today. Criticize if the process is not improving but help if they are committed to changing for the better. If you study cultures you will realize such changes takes years, so track the changes China is making. I applaud the controlled progression I observe.

    I ask those running for office to demonstrate to me that they can look an issue in the eyes and address the root causes. Obama tried to grab an emotional vote which was irresponsible while exposing his weakness: his lack of global experiences. Right now we cannot afford another president who rallies on emotion opposed to the root issue.

    December 23, 2007 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  18. Patricia Hillel, Haifa, Israel

    SENATOR OBAMA… I THINK WHAT SOME
    FOLKS ARE SAYING IS… IT'S O.K. TO
    DESTROY A COUNTRY… OR THREATEN THEM
    WITH WORLD WAR III… OR CALL THEM
    NAMES…. AXIS OF EVIL….. BUT
    DON'T DARE INTERFERE WITH OIL OR
    DANGEROUS FOREIGN IMPORTS OR OSAMA
    BIN LADEN, WHO FOR SOME REASON DOES
    NOT INTEREST THE WHITE HOUSE.

    Posted By GRACE : December 23, 2007 2:10 am

    Well Ma'am, I think that you candidate who is most likely by your unneeded tone Hillary Clinton is one of the helping reasons why we are in Iraq today, so take that up with her.

    December 23, 2007 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  19. J.D. Seattle WA

    Jose Card posted: "Somebody posted that Americans are just cheap so they buy Chinese. The problem is that after millions of jobs were lost overseas, Wal-Mart and Chinese toys are what many Americans can afford." That's a seductive argument to make, and many protectionists make it. It's hard to argue against because it's a chicken-or-the-egg situation (maybe a Phd Economists could enlighten us). However, I think people are cheap because it's engrained in our genetics. Do you want to pay $10 for prodcut A or $20 for product B, both have the same benefits? What if I told you that buying product B will help someone you don't know in Kansas? Or, to use a more ancient example: do you want the coconut that just fell out of the tree or the one still up there?

    December 23, 2007 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  20. Ajay Jain

    Here comes the initial foriegn policy flip-flop from our Illinois junior Senator inexperienced in giving statements:

    "Earlier this week, Obama said at a campaign event that he would “stop the import of all toys from China,”.....On criticism from China Obama BACKTRACKS and says: “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.”"

    What all Obama will ban what he will not is a judgment call which Obama has a lot of! 90% of imports to the US are from China. China enjoys the most favored nation status for perpetuity.

    It is this stranglehold giving the likes of Walmart lobby a distinct advantage for perpetuity! This will change in a Clinton administration. China's most favored nation status will have to be passed on re-evaluation by the Congress on an annual basis.

    Go Hillary44 08! http://hillaryis44.org/

    December 23, 2007 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  21. Ron, NJ

    What's wrong with his statement? A child does bad, you punish them...they get punished they don't do it again.

    There's a reason for rules...and for rules to work they should be enforced.

    GO OBAMA!!

    December 23, 2007 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  22. Brian Fontenot, New Orleans, Louisiana

    This is one more reason for me to support Obama. Afraid to upset communist china? no. Afraid to put our monetary interest related to toys above the safety of our children? absolutely not. When Hillary Clinton attacks Obama for his comment we will know that she is afraid. Like Obama says, the same old politics and foreign policy just won't do.

    December 24, 2007 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  23. Equal Opportunity for Wives in America

    Don't worry Michelle will straighten it all out - She's the one who is "always right in the family" 😉

    Go Michelle/Oprah '08

    December 24, 2007 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  24. I'm Bossin, Fremont, CA

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

    Posted By Ron, TX : December 21, 2007 3:20 pm"

    This is not about "appeasing" China. If you haven't properly read the news, China is the world's fastest growing economy. I don't think China will care if Obama (if he became President) banned toys. What's important is that Obama doesn't make stupid comments like this. He angers both his allies and his enemies, and by making that comment, he has just angered one of the strongest countries in the world.

    December 25, 2007 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  25. Ty

    for all the doubters
    http://obama.senate.gov/press/070613-obama_to_paulso/

    December 26, 2007 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
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