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. quetzalcotal2012 lincoln nebraska

    Does anyone on this page have any clue what foriegn relations is even supposed to mean, has anyone traveled across the united states or maybe went to another country outside of the vacation resort or the church run function that took you there...Or whatever your parents or your trust fund payed for...Does anyone have any clue how the govnt works and what the presidents actual role is? People are talking about the international community, forgein policy and political experiance...You dont need a whole lot of political experiance to run this country...Imagine the idea of the reason this country is in such terrible shape economy and education wise is that the people you keep electing have no idea what so ever whats going on, not a clue...There rich, they hangout with rich people...They dont know what the help wanted section in any news paper looks like, they take money from people who are exploting all the people writing on this page and you sit around and make up excuses standing up for them...How can you make fun of Obama for saying what he's said, when the housing market is sending us into recession...I think theres some serious disinformation going on here, maybe the people with all the "experiance" are the people who are selling you out, maybe you shouldnt listen to what they say

    December 22, 2007 06:51 am at 6:51 am |
  2. MARK NH


    December 22, 2007 07:02 am at 7:02 am |
  3. Terry, El Paso, TX

    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.

    December 22, 2007 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  4. bruce patras new york ny

    Obama and all candidates should back a total ban on all China made toys. It is simply our children lives at stake. Zero lead in any product. We banned it 30 years ago. China's slave labor and illegal use of banned metals are so far from what we are truly about in the USA.

    What an upside down world. Mattel pretends to an American company . They spends millions on special interests to protect their interests, NOT our kids' welfare – yet, they employ almost no skilled American workers. They own no factories anywhere. And when we try to fine them for killing our kids they complain about possible loss of america jobs ???

    We went lead free 30 yrs ago, Barak is correct. Please read his whole speech not just a sound bite. Put the ball in China's court to fix there own shabby world.

    peace bruce

    December 22, 2007 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  5. Scott

    I realized one thing: I don't know Obama well. When I listen to his speech, excited !!! But when he anwsers questions or some challenges, he seems to have a lack of depth. Hillary is very sharp and always thinks ahead of us. She can tell you the anwsers in depth, show precedures and ways to solve them, very organized and makes sense. She DOES has experince. Another thing I don't like is Obama has Clinton advisors for his campaign. It seems that he knows Hillary is better than him, and he can use those advisors to attack Hill on his behalf, without himself doing it.
    Mn, I better be careful not to be fooled here.

    December 22, 2007 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  6. Brian Tampa, FL

    I thought Democrats were going to make the rest of the world "love us again".

    December 22, 2007 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  7. openmind

    "Obama has made a bold statement in protecting the future of America"

    NOT SO !
    Here is the fact: He made so many bold statements, none of them carried out or reflected in his voting records. "130 present" record is a big number, shows a lot of what kind of candidate he is.

    In today's world, just like the way you choose a friend. DON'T GO BY WHAT HE SAID, GO BY WHAT HE HAS DONE. Then you will have a clear choice.

    December 22, 2007 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  8. JB Boston MA

    J McKinney-

    "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!!!!!!!"

    So you are saying the health of our children is less important than upsetting China? I completely disagree. Obama is right! We should stop all imports until we can prove they are safe. THAT is the job of the government, to ensure our safety. This government is not doing it now.

    December 22, 2007 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  9. Ginny, Byron, CA

    Further proof that the Oval Office is no place for a greenhorn.

    December 22, 2007 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
  10. Joe Des Moines, Iowa

    The idea of Obama's statement is to put the threat on the table to get the Chinese to increase their sense of urgency.

    December 22, 2007 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  11. Darrell, Kerrville, Texas

    He was wrong, but not for the reasons Hillary will give. Chinese products are substandard and dangerous because American corporations demand low, low prices, which includes low, low safety (and labor/human rights) standards. Obama and the rest should be pointing fingers at the US Chamber of Commerce for threatening to withdraw manufacturing from China if they don't deliver the cheapest goods on the planet.

    December 22, 2007 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  12. Grammar nut Cape Coral FL

    RE' Rggie from Germany.
    The word "TYPO" does not need an apostophe. It is a simple plural.

    December 22, 2007 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  13. Independent in CA

    BINGO: J. McKinney SW MO: Dec 21 7:57pm HIT THE NAIL SQUARELY ON THE HEAD: "...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..."

    WAKE UP PEEPS: CHINA, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and other economies in Southeast Asia are FINANCING AMERICA'S continuous and growing current-account DEFICITS. That means Asia buys a lot of American bonds. WHICH MEANS IF China calls in the promisory notes they're holding = the American economy collapses (b/c we don't have enough gold reserves to back them – "America is essentially floating paper" 🙁 )

    The naivete of the American masses is truly astounding!!

    THE RUSH TO RATIONALIZE Senator Obama's declaration are pretty sketchy2:
    "...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." And posted by Gatsby, Newark, DE: Dec 21 4:14pm "A full quote of what Obama ACTUALLY said. Pay careful attention to the LACK of the word "ban". 'I would STOP the import of all toys from China. Now I have to say, that's about 80% of toys that are being imported right now,' he said, but did not provide details on how such a 'ban' would be carried out."

    "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 (Gee I didn't think Hillary HAD any foreign official connections since all she did was have tea & cookies with the other foreign leaders' wives). Does anyone else remember foreign officials taking aim at presidential primary candidates? I'd be eager to hear some examples" Posted By Jim: Dec 21 4:37pm

    "It's the Chinese Clinton donors coming to Hillary's aid once again through trashing Obama. This is somehow surprising to people?" Posted By Earl, Ohio: Dec 21 4:59 pm

    "Expect the Clinton camp to oversimplify and downright distort what Obama said. Be an informed voter" Posted By Earl, Ohio: Dec 21 4:59pm

    "when I was younger, half of my toys were made in China…it makes me wonder how many of those toys had lead in them."

    Hmmmm so do we 😉

    BTB: Some of my friends were affected by the tainted pet food, and yes, I think there need to be stricter import regulations – gained by diplomacy and working W/the Chinese – not by foolish threats.

    December 22, 2007 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  14. Vicky Rainert, Bronxville, NY

    I can only applaud Obama's courageous statement. Toxic toys for our children. Toxis pet food for our family pets (and their toys should be tested too), fish from polluted waters for us. Surely our dishes have lead in them too. What will China not do for greed. Hard to think they don't know what they are doing. The just got caught. They should clean up their standards, but they would rather make a quick buck. Thanks for wanting to protect our kids, Obama!

    December 22, 2007 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  15. Mario Uy Streamwood IL

    And I thought all toys were made at the North Pole. What a disappointment. This just ruined my Christmas.

    December 22, 2007 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  16. Chris, Albany, New York

    This is exactly why I believe that a person is smart but collectively people are unbelievably stupid. Why wouldn't you want to ban toys from china? I dunno about you but I'd love to poison my kids with lead paint. Where are the parents in this country to stand up and protect your own children. It seems perfectly logical to me with all the lead paint on toys and GHB on some weird dots toy and who knows what else. We should stop the import of all toys from china. When is common sense going to prevail in this country. I'm glad Mr. Obama has the courage to say what he believes, and you know what on this issue I agree with him 1000%!

    December 22, 2007 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  17. MAtt, Green Bay, WI

    A statement like this sets the stage for future negotiations. You start from a position of strength and it gives you room for a compromise that is reasonable for both.

    Anyone who's had dealings with China knows that if you don't push back hard, they will walk all over you.

    This shows that Obama knows exactly what he's doing in the foreign policy arena.

    December 22, 2007 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  18. J.D., Seattle WA

    Brice Patras says in his post: "What an upside down world. Mattel pretends to an American company . They spends millions on special interests to protect their interests, NOT our kids' welfare – yet, they employ almost no skilled American workers." Bruce you are totally ignorant. Mattel has a massive complex of HUGE buildings in El Sugundo CA near LAX airport with thousands of high-paid workers. It's a huge campus full of inventors, designers, art directors, engineers, product managers, graphic designers, marketing people, executives. I can go on and on and on listing the thousands of white-collar workers they employ there. That's not to mention the similar building they have in NY for Fisher-Price. Or Hasbro's complexes in R.I. and Mass. Or a thousand other U.S. toy companies that employ such professionals (I have a database listing every single one because I'm in the industry). Go to Toy Fair in NY and you'll see like 50,000 Americans and a few dozen Chinese. I've worked with Mattel, I know the reality and you are clueless like most people about the toy industry.

    December 22, 2007 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  19. Independent in IA

    If this is an example of O'Bumble's foreign relations 'instinct', I say drop this clown like a very hot potato.

    He hasn't even made it to the Primary and already he his increasing the distance between any meaningful dialogue with other nations, except to piss them off.

    Please, O'Bumble, go back and do what you were marginally successful at, and that is working in the communities of Chicago...leave the Big League politics to those who have the experience to know how to act.

    December 22, 2007 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  20. Chris, Austin TX

    Obama's inexperience clearly shows in his most recent foreign affairs policy suggestions.
    This man clearly does not understand presidency yet. I can see how Obama appeals to the younger crowd. His talks of change. His talks of the Iraq war. Sure appealing. But not in the best interest of this nation.
    This man sidesteps questions. Look at the Australian Prime Minister comment. Instead of defending himself, explaining why he thought he was right, he merely said "i take that as a compliment", and shrugged off the whole thing.
    This man is "clearly" not presidential material, and I truely feel for the people who are so closed minded, they think he should run this nation.

    December 22, 2007 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  21. Uma, mpls, MN

    This Obama wants have more enemy than friend i guess.

    Say not to Obama Hussein Barack = inexperience and no stand candidate.

    December 22, 2007 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  22. Earl, Ohio

    Acutally, I'm really surprised that this comment got greenlit, seeing as its blatantly ignorant and offensive. Earl really thinks those nefarious Chinese donors are shaking hands with Clinton behind closed doors and promising to throw in a bash at Obama sometime? Does Earl also wear a tinfoil hat and live in a bunker with an unlimited supply of canned beans?

    Some of these comments are bordering on being simply anti-Chinese (as a people), instead of anti-China (as a government). What a fine line, and people seem to enjoy crossing it.

    Posted By Anna, New York, New York : December 21, 2007 10:08 pm

    Does the name Hsu mean anything to you? I mean, really, he was a huge fundraiser for Hillary who is a Chinese criminal.

    Or how about this?

    No. Hillary is totally innocent, Anna. Please take off your blinders before you make accusations about infoil hats. It's clear the Clintons are in bed with the Chinese. If you want 100 more articles, I will be glad to post them.

    December 22, 2007 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  23. John, Las Vegas, NV

    Hmm, the people I see opposed to this statement are: The Chinese Communist Party, free-market-without-protection advocates, and Hillary Clinton supporters.

    I don't know about you, but I find that particular peanut gallery hilarious as well as instructive.

    1. Why *shouldn't* we protect our children and have a ban until we are sure those kids will be thought of FIRST and not as an afterthought?

    2. Why is demanding a superior product for out hard-earned money spent a BAD thing?

    3. Hillary's so-called "experience" is trumped by any number of better candidates, Richardson and Biden being the best of that batch. If I truly was only voting on experience, I'd be voting for someone other than her.

    December 22, 2007 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  24. Joshua

    Lets not forget China has banned American films.

    December 22, 2007 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  25. Rus, Whitburn

    Here's a fuller account of what Obama said: ‘I would stop the import of all toys from China. Now, I have to say that that's about 80 percent of toys that are being imported right now. We have the power right now to set up our own inspection systems in China. The Japanese do this on food, they basically say to China, you cannot import food unless you meet our safety inspectors. They sent Japanese inspectors to China, set up the testing system, and oversee and make sure that every single bite of food that is sent into Japan from China has been tested. We don't do that. We have just a handful of people who are inspecting all the toys that are flooding into the country. The big toy makers now manufacture in China and import here and they have put pressure to resist a strong regulatory system.’

    December 22, 2007 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
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