Unsafe from China?

Mattel has apologized for its recent massive toy recall, stating that ¡°the vast majority of recalled Chinese-made toys were due to design flaws rather than the manufacturing errors of local Chinese manufacturers.¡± The incident had further inflamed the global backlash against Chinese-made products, which have been increasingly viewed as unsafe by consumers outside of China.

Well, that¡¯s not so great for Mattel, but even worse for the formerly successful toy manufacturer whose company, Lida Toy Company, produced the leaden toys recalled by Mattel. In August, Zhang Shuhong took his own life, taking care to pay his workers the wages they were owed before committing the act. The recall incident cost Lida Toy Company US$30 million and incurred a ban from exports to the United States, despite the fact that the defective paint had been supplied by a different company. Before the incident, the firm had employed approximately 5000 workers, with no prior history of recalled products.

According to the People¡¯s Daily, Chinese-made goods comprise about 60 percent of recalls staged in the United States during the first half of 2007. According to a report in China Daily, the decrease in quality may be blamed upon American manufacturers:

"Everybody is pushing, pushing, pushing for lower and lower prices. The vendors are squeezed to the point where they aren't making a profit anymore. So they are looking to cut corners," Peter Dean, a former US toy company executive, was quoted as saying by US-based McClatchy Newspaper...

Human lives and livelihoods are worth more than a five-cent savings on children¡¯s toys. Instead of expressing their ire at goods ¡°Made in China¡± by pressing for protectionist laws against Chinese imports, U. S. consumers should consider giving up their addiction to cheaply manufactured goods and actually paying for quality that they demand.

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