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. ActNow, Here, USA

    If you all want to really make a change in America, do one thing – boycot WalMart and other companies that send our jobs overseas. They will change and they will eventually find companies here that are willing to manufacture. End of discussion. Quit complaining and act or there will be nothing for our children.

    December 21, 2007 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  2. Tim, Seattle

    Vic wrote: "Attention Sean Hannity and Chris Matthews — the golden, walk-on-water-boy has been tested for the first time on his international relations — and failed miserably. First with Australia

    Oh yeah, speaking of Howard of Australia... He just started to withdraw his paltry sum of troops today. Guess Mr Howard doesnt mean what he says about supporting the 'war on terror'. Guess his criticism of Obama is menaingless afterall. Ha!

    December 21, 2007 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  3. Tracey, minneapolis

    Obamma is obviously an isolationalist Hahaa, see how it feels to be falsely labeled this?

    December 21, 2007 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  4. rdierker

    Finally a real leader who can stand up to these terrible foreign corporations that are poisoning our kids for profit.

    December 21, 2007 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  5. Joann, Cranston, RI

    Again, lack of experience – not a bad thing but he just can't be president of the US. Obama seems like a wonderful family man and even business man but I certainly will not vote for him just because he rounded up Oprah (whom I love) to do some talking for him. His wife has taken center stage for him and so has Hillary's husband Bill. Nothing wrong with that – but to try to get a celebrity to do your work – No way – I vote Hillary

    December 21, 2007 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  6. Tom, Las Vegas

    He's officially lost his mind. The pandering sent him into overload.

    December 21, 2007 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  7. J. McKinney SW MO

    >>>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?>>>

    I just picked the above comment at random from several that are saying the same thing, or similiar. But, are you who are posting these comments aware of the amount of money we have borrowed from China to fund the war? We are in absolutely NO position to try to get too bossy with them. They pretty well have us over a barrel, if they would decide to demand repayment of the money they have lent us. We need to use diplomacy, not threats, when we work with them. Hillary? we're counting on you. We need you. Hillary, '08!!!!!!!

    December 21, 2007 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  8. Yang, San Diego, CA

    Obama is an inexperienced man. To make a comment such as that? Sheer incompetance. For all of you who say yes ban chinese toys, then how would you be able to afford them? 90% of the toys on Walmarts shelves would go empty, then what toys would you "high moral" people buy? Stop and think for a moment. How bout you watch your kids more carefully and make sure that they aren't stuffing random stuff in their mouths. Making everything so dramatic, fools.

    December 21, 2007 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  9. LB, Ft Worth TX

    Thank you Obama! Let's bring toy production back to America... then other items. We can't give away our futures! Stand Up! I am a Republican who will vote for you if you stand up!

    December 21, 2007 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  10. EB Rideout, Georgia

    Does that include puppets, like to one that currently occupies the White House?

    December 21, 2007 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  11. fu, manchester, new hampshire

    Obama is like Bush – shoot from the mouth.

    Now, under Obama's regime, america may start a war with China, after Iraq.

    December 21, 2007 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  12. ddeighton Baltimore, MD

    I agree that our children are more important than apeasing China. But if Obama were sincere why hasn't he started some kind of effort now to ban toys from China? He's just making a pre-election promise he won't keep later just like all the candidates do at this stage of the race. This is just his desperate attempt to get more white votes. Do something now Obama and show us what you're made of! Don't talk the talk, walk the walk. Why didn't he try to do something about toys before Christmas? Because this is just another pre-election, soon-to-be-broken promise. Shame on you Obi! And a Merry Leadful Christmas to you too!

    December 21, 2007 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  13. Blayze Kohime, Columbus OH

    Trade is a very important part of foreign policy; if you do not trade with someone, they have less reason not to become aggressive towards you when it suits their needs. Quality should be demanded, yes, but deciding to ban all products from a specific nation because of a few of their manufacturers that were already closed down is foolish, and could even be called racist.

    December 21, 2007 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  14. David, Bay Area, CA

    I like Obama and would vote for him over Hillary, but that was a really dumb thing to say. It makes me wonder if Obama is ignorant of the workings of the globalized economy or if he was just pandering to the anti-free trade sentiments of his base. Either way it doesn't reflect well on him.

    December 21, 2007 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  15. Mark

    Good start for your foreign policies agenda Mr. Obama. Just to show people who worship you how inexperienced you are.

    December 21, 2007 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  16. John, Spokane Washington

    Go Obama !!! I'm sick and tired of seeing Made in China on everything. It's international companies taking advantage of the chinese people. I try to support Made in the USA products but it is getting harder to do. I also wonder if I am comprising my safety and my families safety by buying chinese products. People around the world are not laughing at us because of Obama. They are laughing at us because of Bush.

    December 21, 2007 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  17. Jessica, El Paso, TX

    I guess "Cowboy Diplomacy" is alive and well. The London Times has this great piece expressing concerns about Obama lack of foreign policy experience. Also, Joe Wilson just came out with a great argument against Obama's experience, or lack there of, too.

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3080794.ece

    http://noquarterusa.net/blog/2007/12/21/the-real-hillary-i-know-and-the-unreal-obama/

    December 21, 2007 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  18. Art, Del Mar, CA

    I'm not surprised that many of the brainwashed commentors attribute this remark to " Inexperience ". The current " Experienced" politicans have gotten us to be so beholden to RED Chinese influence , money and poor quality.., that we are merely becoming a consumer nation with no means of production, and no control of our destiny. We need someone who will stand up to the power structure....to bring inegrity back to the USA.

    December 21, 2007 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  19. Joe, Queens New York

    Well, I'm no member of the Republican party, but I make toys and I'm stunned that this man doesn't understand the nuances of the Chinese toy situation.

    The vast majority of the toys, nay the PRODUCTS coming into this country are made in China and a very few of them (types, not quantity) have been recalled. And they're toys, for crying out loud. How many American made cars have been recalled in the last few years, important pieces of machinery that carry precious cargo of loved ones, not some inconsequential piece of plastic entertainment?

    Even before the Mattel crisis, I had to pay exorbitant testing fees to ensure that not only do my toys pass American safety standards, but the higher standards od the EU.

    And as for "Made in the USA", I'd love nothing more than to make my stuff here. It's really a hassle to get things done in China. But, until I can find a factory where the unskilled laborer doesn't get paid more than the average college graduate due to the extortionary demands of the unions, or where young people don't look down their noses at the job, I'm going where they're happy to take my business for what the market demands.

    And another thing: the Mattel crisis resulted in the suicide of the man whose job it was to oversee safety; the Chinese government came out and said it was "ashamed" of the situation. When was the last time an American corporation or government official showed a sense of shame? When are the predatory financing executives going to start hanging themselves?

    As for Obama, I was leaning toward supporting him until this outrageous generalization left his lips and opened my eyes. Boy, I'm sure he wouldn't appreciate if anyone made a generalization about him and wrote him off for it.

    December 21, 2007 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  20. kenneth/GA/Atlanta

    I've a 4months old boy, at this age he needs certain toys to help with his mental, motor and social development but as a father who is well informed about the effect of lead not only on kids but on adults as well, i'll be killing my own son my buying him made in China toys.
    The Chinese government and our president should be explaining to us why this is happening. Mr Obama thanks for having the courage to say what i'll do if giving the opportunity

    December 21, 2007 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  21. Boogie Los Angeles CA

    Good call Obama...throw the baby out with the bath water.
    Great foreign policy...piss off the nation we owe the most money to by completely over-reacting.
    A very small percentage of Chinese toys were bad and your answer is to wipe out the whole industry and throw us into a trade war with China???
    I hope people see this for what it is...LACK OF EXPERIENCE...not to mention savy and ability to work out problems with a cool head.
    You talk a good game...you just can't back it up...that's not the "Change" America needs.

    December 21, 2007 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  22. Adam, Plano, TX

    At the very least, Barak Obama should spend a full term or two in the Senate to gain some 'real world of politics' experience.

    His experience is as an achedemic and state legislator. That's good but not good enough to qualify him as leader of the free world.

    Take a look at Candolezza Rice's record of achievements and tell me about qualifications.
    She has done NOTHING in terms of International diplomacy, NOTHING!

    She had the credentials (so we were told), but no political experience. Look where that got us, either no diplomacy or very bad diplomacy, that's where.

    This is a critical time in our history. It is not a time for on the job training.

    Every one of the other Democratic candidates has more experience than Obama.

    I don't want to gamble on this election then end up wishing I had voted for experience over idology.

    After all, George W Bush was/is an idealogue and you see where that got us.
    Posted By Vic Las Vegas, Nevada : December 21, 2007 5:38 pm

    edwards doesn't have more experience than obama. neither does hillary. hillary has longer in the senate, but barack has longer elected experience. obama has even been through more elections than hillary, he didn't even get elected his first time up as senator. he also has more elected experience than our current president, and has more elected experience than bill clinton had at the time he got elected president. how many more cliche lines can you come up with? on the job training? theres not a single candidate who will be able to go into the white house the first day and know exactly what to do. and don't tell me hillary being a first lady taught her how to be president, thats a crock of bs. the truth of the matter is, all the candidates, both dem and repub, have more than enough experience to run this country, or they likely wouldn't be running, and obama wouldn't have the following he has.

    December 21, 2007 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  23. Tewde, FL

    I think Obama is a great man personally, but does that mean he has earned the right to be President? Give it 10 to 20 years and he could be, not now. Not what our nation needs. Best of luck in the Primaries anyway Obama.
    Posted By Christian, Chapel Hill, NC : December 21, 2007 7:36 pm
    Christain, stop deluding yourself, it is not America that is not ready for Obama, it is you who has not got into your head that we need Obama. Who are you to decide that he tries in 10-20 years, are you God?

    December 21, 2007 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  24. Kim, Dallas, TX

    The naivity stated on this blog is astounding. It shows that people take little note of what is really going on around them. China's products are killing our kids, MANY of our kids...not to mention our pets, etc. We are a country that puts no restrictions on what China is exporting to us. Until we make stricter guidelines, I agree completely with not buying toys from them. And unless you have been living under a rock, all of their toys were recently taken off of shelves as a result of how dangerous they are. Making a stand leads to making changes...that's the candidate for me. I am tired of status quo..do whatever makes companies the most money. Let's take ethical standards into consideration and our children, pets, even ourselves can know we won't be poisoned in the process.

    GO OBAMA!!!!!

    December 21, 2007 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  25. Trang, Fremont, CA

    Good for you, Obama. The more I hear your proposal, the better I like it. Yes, we have no problem trading with the Chinese, but if they take shortcuts that resulted in dangerous products on the market, we have to prevent its inflow. That's what a responsible leader would do, protect its people. They can trade with us, just make the products safe. It takes guts to stand up to them. Good for you.

    December 21, 2007 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
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