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. MarkieBee, Sacramento, Calif.

    Nice of CNN to spend half the length of thr story digging up a anecdote from a foreign leader who got his butt kicked in his own reelection bid not too long ago. By the way, the best line Obama used on that Aussie was this, "well, sir, if you beleive so much in George Bush's war, then by all means send more troops than the 150 you've already sent." Of course the Clinton News Network wouldn't use that quote. Hey, does Vinod Gupta's latest Survey USA poll have Hillary up by more than 30? No? Well, what kind of best friend is he then?

    December 21, 2007 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  2. Fred, Dallas, TX

    This is a great example of Obama standing up for the American people and defending American national interests. Who do the Chinese think they are? They have no business commenting on our presidential election. It's high time they looked at themselves in the mirror and abandoned their undemocratic, militarist regime.

    December 21, 2007 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  3. Jose Card

    Good job, Obama! Hillary just made some noise about tainted Chinese toys and did nothing as she can’t really bite the hands that feed her.

    It’s common sense. If the Chinese sold and is still selling us toxic toys, we should ban Chinese toys to protect our children from toxins such as lead. Lead can cause learning disability in children, who are the future of our country. Obama makes common sense, but he needs experts and legislatives to work out details.

    Imports Licenses should be required of American importers, which include U.S. corporations that have plants overseas. If an importer breaks safety standards, ban their license for ‘at least one year’. This will give them incentives to install ‘Quality Control in their overseas plants’ and ‘Lot Acceptance Sampling in the U.S.’ Without any penalty, most corporations will simply maximize their profits at the costs of the consumers till they are caught. There should be mechanisms for preventing these violating companies from importing goods with a new company name within the ban period.

    The outsourced corporations will still be making lots of money even with Six Sigma Quality Control as the Chinese workers are paid peanuts. If it does get too expensive to keep up with safety standards, it may be time to move your plants to a cheaper country or back to the U.S.

    Toxic chemicals may come from the recyclable materials, which the Chinese container ships are loaded with on their way back from the U.S. China has no regulations on processing recyclable materials so the Chinese goods made of recyclable materials may contain toxic chemicals. We also lose scrap metal to China big time. During WWII, scrap metal was critical in making weapons. We could also use it for infrastructures such as bridges or fences. We are now buying Chinese made metal fences for the southern boarder.

    Lobbyists for big corporations play a deadly role in the legislation for consumer safety. Many members of our Congress have connections with these lobbyists. Hillary calls them Good Americans and takes their big donations. Harry Reid’s sons are lobbyists with special connections. It seems that some members have one foot in the Congress, while sticking the other in a lobbying firm.

    The First Amendment gave us freedom of speech. We need a new amendment for curtailing these lobbyists as our representatives from all parties need to be held accountable for violating conflicts of interest.

    That’s why we need to elect someone we can trust. Once the candidate is voted in, she or he will do whatever she or he pleases. We will then become the same genius as Hillary is, tolerating our cheating representatives forever. We are setting a very bad example for our children when we stay silent.

    December 21, 2007 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  4. MarkieBee, Sacramento, Calif.

    Monte Brown, you little devil you, why haven't you done your homework? I challenged you weeks ago to list why Hillary Clinton is the most experienced and you haven't taken me up on it. You know that only Edwards has less experience than Hillary. Come on now. Gte to work. I want a list of substantive bills Hillary has AUTHORED and passed as a U.S. senator. Quick. Should only take you a few minutes because she doesn't have much of a record. Don't flake on my challenge again Monte.

    December 21, 2007 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  5. William, Vancouver BC, Canada

    I've noticed that for virtually EVERY reasoned point that anybody makes against Obama, he has a glib 180% counterpoint.

    Obama would obviously use the same tactics against any criticism of his policies if he was ever in power.

    Not a man to elect; not now.

    December 21, 2007 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  6. Glenda, Tulsa, OK

    Yet another reason not to give your vote to the sophomoric, junior (empahasis on junior) senator from Illinois. Engaging with China takes an incredibly high level of sophistication, intelligence and finesse. Potshots like Obama's are unstrategic, rash, and not well thought out.

    December 21, 2007 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  7. Steve Miller, Tucson, AZ

    This shows me that Senator Obama has what it takes to be a true leader. What is it with these people talking about his inexpereince?

    What is it going to take to make the Chinese business men and government do the right thing?

    The other candidates want to simply continue on with business as usual while the American public suffers the consequences. Maybe it's becasue the children playing with dangerous Chinese toys don't vote!

    I say start with the toys and then move on from there. Once the Chinese see a reduction in trade with the U.S they will do the right thing to keep their economy growing. After all what international business man or woman is willing to turn their back on the U.S. market?

    December 21, 2007 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  8. Lisa Hampton Newark, NJ

    Its really interesting how China is taking Obamas words to heart. They even know he is going to be the next President of the United States. Go Obama!

    December 21, 2007 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  9. Terence from Ohio

    Public safety matters! Some people really are concerned about kissing butt over the truth. Sometimes the truth offends and that's okay.

    It's obvious some people care about politics more than they care about children.

    December 21, 2007 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  10. Jim, Irmo, SC

    CNN, please print Obama's statements in their entirety. This article, and the Chinese response, misrepresent what he said. Please post this.

    December 21, 2007 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  11. Les WA

    A lot of posters here totally miss the point, the words of Obama is quite inciting. China is the BIGGEST holder of US TREASURY BONDS, WE OWE China close to a TRILLION DOLLARS.

    China is the biggest US importer of wheat, corn, soybeans etc etc. What do you think will happen to our agriculture?

    What do you think will happen IF China start ejecting US corporations out of their country or CLOSE their country for US GOODS?

    What do you think will happen if big department stores start laying off their employees because they can't make profit anymore from the goods they're selling to their consumers?

    A lot of you just plain talk, you're not looking at the big picture how it will impact the US economy.

    Obama is showing once again his OWN LACK of EXPERIENCE. With our economy right now heading towards recession, Obama and his big mouth shoot it off like an idiot without thorougly analyzing our economic situation how much this country is HEAVILY in DEBT with China.

    Words are CHEAP, SALIVA IS FREE. That's what Obama has been offering for his hopes and dreams.

    Obama is not getting my vote, if he's the nominee for the Demoracratic Party, I'd vote Republican.

    Obama better use what the Foreign Ministry spokesman of China said to send e-mails to his supporters for campaign contribution, CHINA IS ATTACKING HIM!

    What a freaking nitwit! I'd take common sense anytime of the day over academians!

    December 21, 2007 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  12. Carole Western Pa.

    To bad for him he should be worried about Chinas illegal dumping of steel but instead he is going to start playing on peoples fears of lead from China's toys. How pathetic!!!

    December 21, 2007 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  13. Victor Heung, Honolulu, HI

    I was a large Obama supporter until this. Granted that his comments are said for the concern and interest of the American people, I really wonder if this is a political gimmick or he truly does not know how to handle international policy.

    Mr. Obama knows that 80% of the toys in the U.S. are manufactured in China; if he knows his basic economics at all, such a drastic reduction in supply of toys could mean two things.

    1. Dramatically higher prices for the consumer because the U.S. does not have the necessary capabilities to handle the surge of necessary supply to meet demand (not to mention labor cost).

    2. We'll be seeing these exact same products made from somewhere else. Is pissing China off worth it to get toys made from India?

    Hopefully he does not forget that they are not without leverage as well. They are holding and continue to acquire U.S. debt. Lets say they get angry and diversify their assets. We'll be left with higher prices and growing national debt. Brilliant idea Mr. Obama.

    Hillary 08

    December 21, 2007 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  14. Patrick, Cincinnati,OH

    "Burning bridges with international allies BEFORE "

    China an ally? Since when.... once again republican supporters show their foreign policy ignorance.

    December 21, 2007 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  15. Lyle Topham

    Too, too funny – the Chinese are mad at Obama for protecting American infants and children. They'd better be careful where and upon whom they expend their anger. Look what happened to Howard, he was drummed out of office by a landslide. The slope economy doesn't register against a threat to the health and wellbeing of American kids.

    December 21, 2007 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  16. EVIN BIET MEMPHIS TN

    AND THEY SHOULD BLAST HIM!
    HILLARY 4 PRESIDENT 08
    GO FIGHT WIN ..

    December 21, 2007 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  17. Phemi DC

    May be Hussein should first go back back to his father land and run as the president of Kenya.

    That may give him some experience

    December 21, 2007 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  18. Christian, Tampa FL

    While I think that banning all China toy imports would be impossible and economically crazy, I am glad that Obama was able to scare the Chinese enough to get a response. It's about time that they knew the whole toy issue is serious business, and this is perhaps a great opportunity to reduce our economic entanglement with the Chinese in one area while simultaneously boosting American products. It's worth further discussion, certainly.

    December 21, 2007 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  19. alex, dallas, tx

    lead causes mental retardation
    lead found in toys from china might as well be called another terrorist attack to get all american kids retarded
    obama is right

    December 21, 2007 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  20. JOHN CATTCHINS, MACON MISSISSIPPI

    HILLARY O8 GO FIGHT WIN
    DO YA THING MY LADY ..
    SHAKE THEM HATERS OFF YOU GOT OUR VOTE DONE IN THE DIRTY SOUTH ....

    A REAL LADY OF WISDOM AN CLASS CANT WAIT TO VOTE THE FIRST WOMEN IN OFFICE AN DARN IT IM A REAL MAN ...

    December 21, 2007 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  21. Maria, Detroit MI

    Thank you Obama–finally some common sense. It is time we put our children first, and in the process, bring much needed jobs back to our country. Shelves full of toys made in america are long overdue.

    December 21, 2007 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  22. HFA, Lake Lure, NC

    This is opinion from a non-committed voter. While I never actually thought the OBama ticket was electable, I'm not at all surprised that among the first attack was a "Clintonian". After all, please remember it was 'Billary" who insisted that China be included as MFN trading status. Should we be surprised?

    You raise a good point Barak!

    December 21, 2007 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  23. AJ, Baltimore, MD

    Once again, Sen. Obama is ahead of "Washington D.C. convential wisdom." Australian PM John Howard was recently voted out of office!!!

    BARACK OBAMA on John Howard's comments (Feb. 07): "I would also note that we have close to 140,000 troops on the ground now, and my understanding is that Mr Howard has deployed 1,400.

    So, if he's [up] to fight the good fight in Iraq, I would suggest that he calls up another 20,000 Australians and sends them to Iraq."

    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.

    OBAMA '08!

    December 21, 2007 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  24. CAROLE ALLENDALE NEW JERSEY

    ISNT IT ABOUT TIME THAT SOMEONE SAYS WHAT THE KNOW IS RIGHT AND WILL DO IT.. HOW MANY CHILDREN NEED TO BE HURT BEFORE WE STOP THIS INDUSTRY IN CHINA.. WE HAVE A COUNTRY THAT IS VERY CAPABLE OF MAKING KIDS TOYS.. LETS REMEMBER WE ARE A COUNTRY THAT DOES NOT NEED OTHER COUNTRIES..IT IS THE CORPORATIONS THAT HAVE GOTTEN SO GREEDY AT THE COST OF PEOPLE'S HEALTH AND LIVES. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH AND I AGREE WITH OBAMA.. THIS MAN WILL FIX THIS MESS OF A COUNTRY

    December 21, 2007 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  25. David, Annandale, VA

    Wow... Barack Obama... idiot.

    I cannot imagine that someone would be so stupid as to consider a full ban of toy products from China... that's ridiculous. We CAN put a sticker on all Chinese toys that say they may be dangerous, we can tell Americans that Chinese toys are unsafe, that's fair and good, but to ban them, what's the point? We buy Chinese toys because we want to.... all we need is the correction information about them and the costs...

    Other posters have made important points about the international fallout... and how we'd lose money from it anyways and how they'd just go to worse countries.

    December 21, 2007 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
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