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. Catherine, Pleasanton, CA

    I'm sure Obama's supporters will start justifying his lack of experience and naive approach to foreign diplomacy as being tough and standing up for America. Well, we've had that sort of diplomacy in the White House for the last 8 years and look where it has gotten us. We need a president who is respected worldwide and who has what it takes to be able work with foreign leaders in achieving our goals. This rash, sweeping statement of Obama's shows just how limited he is in experience, and even common-sense, when it comes to dealing with other nations. His simplistic approach and lack of experience in foreign affairs would be a huge liability for the U.S. He is unseasoned and simply not ready to take on the role of president, especially at this critical time in our nation's history.

    December 21, 2007 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  2. Martha, Lindenhurst, IL

    Come on, China with standards? They can't even keep their people safe from the crap they make, and yes, I wrote crap.

    December 21, 2007 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  3. Peggy, Greensboro NC

    Yes let's not upset China. What's a few lead toys and human rights abuses among friends?

    December 21, 2007 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  4. Mimi, Silver Spring

    I have an Autistic child, in the school that she goes to there are many autistic kids with varying degrees of Autism, as is the case in many parts of America. I believe Chinese toys (what they are made of) could be the elephant in the room that is causing Autism cases to skyrocket in the US. We no longer buy toys made in China for our kids.

    I hope who ever the next president is will put enough pressure on China to clean up their act and stop poisoning our kids. If it is the threat of loosing the US market, so be it.

    December 21, 2007 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  5. Will Armstrong, Arnold, MD

    I fail to understand why this is news. Joe Biden announced two months ago that he would stop the import of all toys from China. I am glad to see that Sen. Obama agrees with Joe on yet another issue.

    December 21, 2007 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  6. Ron, TX

    A full quote of what Obama ACTUALLY said. Pay careful attention to the LACK of the word "ban". A proper and HONEST newstory would say that he called for importing AFTER INSPECTIONS, which is 100% correct. How on EARTH are we just allowing free reign of imports when so many contain lead and poisons? Expect the Clinton camp to oversimplify and downright distort what Obama said. Be an informed voter. Read below.

    “I would stop the import of all toys from China. Now I have to say, that’s about 80 percent of toys that are being imported right now,” he said, but did not provide details on how such a ban would be carried out.
    Mr. Obama said that the import of toys tainted with lead represented a “dereliction of duty on the part of the president and the administration.” He called for the United States to set up its own inspection system within China, similar to the one that Japan uses to screen food imports from the country.
    “We don’t do that,” Mr. Obama said, and blamed the Bush administration for making what he said were significant budget and staff cuts at the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission.
    “We could set up a system that has a strong standard,” Mr. Obama said. “We have just a handful of people that are inspecting all the toys that are flooding in from China.”

    December 21, 2007 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  7. Concerned

    Call me crazy but I think it's good thing that Obama has called out China!

    No more toys from China! What's wrong with that?

    And since when did China become our allie?

    who cares what a former (conservative prime minister) head of state like John Howard thinks?

    Go Obama 08!

    December 21, 2007 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  8. Adam, Plano, TX

    funny, i've heard a lot of people say we should stop importing from china. i agree, we should stop importing from china and send them a real message, if they want out money, they have to adhere to OUR standards. i think they'd get the picture then.

    December 21, 2007 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  9. Jim

    I think that the recent spat of foreign criticizm is interesting given Hillary's recent call in the polls. I have a sneaking suspicion that Hillary is working her connections with foreign officials to draw criticism down on Obama from afar.
    Does anyone else remember foreign officials taking aim at presidential primary candidates? I'd be eager to hear some examples...

    December 21, 2007 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  10. KJ, CA

    Oh no – Barack Obama wants to protect children from potentially dangerous toys, toys that could severely injure or kill children. We can't have that...

    December 21, 2007 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  11. Sarah

    That's right Cat from Costa Mesa you should be OUTRAGED! How dare a elected public official put the safety and welfare of our children above the corrupt greed of the Chinese and their joint-venture partners. It's LUDICROUS to say the least!

    December 21, 2007 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  12. Will, Decatur GA

    He's not for stopping trade. He's for halting it until we can inspect THERE, just as Japan does in regards to food.

    December 21, 2007 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  13. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    The Chinese Foreign Ministers comments should not be up for argument. There is no trade off for importing harmful toys or products to any country. Obama's comments can only be harsh to China if they have no intention of correcting their dangerous products and wish to continue doing business as usual.

    December 21, 2007 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  14. Matt, Paris, Illinois

    I'm glad my Senator made the suggestions - we have got to stop kissing the rings of other nations' officials, quite frankly.

    December 21, 2007 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  15. Zac, Atlanta, GA

    Joe Biden said the same exact thing at a debate two months back. China's Most Favored Nation status should be REVOKED immediately: 1) they artificially peg the Yuan to the dollar. 2) Chinese tariffs and subsidies give their industries a HUGE, artificial advantage over American workers 3) Chinese workers have fewer rights than Americans, and can't always negotiate their contracts (exploitation). Chinese Labor Reform legislation to correct this problem was brought down earlier in 2007 by (you guessed it) American Corporate Lobbyists.

    This is not free trade at all! It's like playing a football game, where China starts with 34 points on the board! who in their right mind would do that? America apparently...lets hope a Fair Trader like Obama gets elected in 08, rather than someone with their head in the sand. We CANNOT have "free trade" when the deck's been stacked against us.

    December 21, 2007 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  16. E,S, Fort Wayne IN

    So now leaders from China and Australia can tell us who to vote for? It us bad enough that religious clergy dictate who to vote for. Amazing.!

    December 21, 2007 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  17. Ben

    Uh...Obama was not the first one to be this harsh. Joe Biden has been saying the same thing for a while now.
    Regardless of who said it first, they're both right. Until China can clean up its act, they should be shut off.

    December 21, 2007 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  18. Banko

    OBAMA has once more shown leadership on a very tough issues. Which one is important? Tainted, poisonous toys from China or the health of American Children?

    December 21, 2007 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  19. Len, Fallbrook, CA

    Box of (inexperienced) rocks.

    December 21, 2007 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  20. Earl, Ohio

    It's the Chinese Clinton donors coming to Hillary's aid once again through trashing Obama.

    This is somehow surprising to people?

    December 21, 2007 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  21. CitizenJ

    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.

    Posted By Phil, Memphis, TN : December 21, 2007 3:07 pm


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

    Posted By Aidyn, NY : December 21, 2007 3:13 pm

    Yeah, how dare we look out for the welfare of our children ahead of the welfare of the Chinese toy-makers. Maybe we can just send the toys with lead paint on them to your house.

    December 21, 2007 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  22. Dave, Evergreen CO

    This will help Obama. The Chinese aren't exactlly popular amongst Democratic voters right now.

    December 21, 2007 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  23. Kevin Topeka, KS

    Posted By Dan, NJ : December 21, 2007 3:14 pm

    Why would you think that is a probability, Dan? Because it is just that, another sign of how inexperienced he really is?

    December 21, 2007 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  24. A. Harrison, Atlanta Georgia

    No doubt the US wants safer products from China but usually you have diplomacy not have an all out ban....Has China refused to talk about quality issues? Has China not acted everytime there was some sort of quality issue that came to light? You don't call a ban on anything or isolate any country unless diplomacy has broken down....Everything in your Office Obama has some sort of tie to being manufactured, assembled, or shipped from China.
    This is the stink of Inexperience and a hint of what is to come if he is in office. Take note people.

    December 21, 2007 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  25. herron

    who cares what china thinks make the dam toys here again, create craftsman. build and invent lead and get offf our high horse where we have to buy everything. we work for our money lets build something with it

    December 21, 2007 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11