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Chinese toying with the Olympics
by Thanos Kalamidas
2007-11-11 00:07:09
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Another blow for Chinese toys manufactures was the latest news from the USA and Australia with the recall of millions of toys due to a drug contained in the coating of the toys. I decided to check in my daughter’s room, not to make sure what toys were made in China, but how many things she has from the last Olympics in Greece.

Let me see… four dolls and six sports figures, a puzzle, a couple of books and a set of coloring pens. I suppose your question is what the Athens Olympics has to do with Chinese-made toys. Well, it has to do with everything. The Olympic Games are an international event that receives very high international publicity. Toys, mascots and all kind of things from t-shirts to pens are going to be sold all around the world to remind of the event. I myself have pins from nearly all the Olympic Games since the Montréal ones – well, I don’t have one from Dallas but it is fine, since I have a Coca Cola one!

Imagine how many houses all these mascots and toys are going to reach - from Japan to USA, from South Africa to Finland and Brazil. I have at least four friends who are planning to visit Beijing during the games and I’m pretty sure that my daughter will end up with a few of these mascots, so it doesn’t matter if they are bought in Beijing or in Helsinki because all of them will be made in China. It is the very same China, most likely from the very same manufacturers, who are now blamed for coating their toys with a dangerous drug.

According to the news reports the toys were coated in chemicals which transformed into the banned drug GHB when swallowed. I’m sorry, I’m not a doctor or a chemist but the idea of a drug in my three and a half year old daughter just terrifies me. And this was not the first time, since only a few weeks ago another batch of Chinese-made toys was recalled in the USA and Europe and another lot a couple of months ago. And then a big toy company had to stop cooperation with a Chinese manufacturer due to child-workers and then there was another one abusing workers rights, so it seems to me that these Olympics will stay in history as the most embarrassing.

Looking in my daughter’s room I can see three colorful toy boxes filled with all sizes of toys and that doesn't include all the toys on the floor in every room of the house and the toys inside a net hanging from the roof. There are toys of all materials and all sizes and I have no idea which of them are Chinese-made and I have no idea how to start this checking out.

The truth is that I should never have to find myself in this situation because these are children's toys, made by specialist companies that have only one priority: safety. How could these companies use a material for finishing that will send kids and infants, to be precise, to hospital, how can they? Wouldn’t you call that a crime, demand to find the guilty party and take them to court for a serious crime? What do they mean they had to withdraw millions of toys? Were they intentionally poisoning millions of kids? I’m sorry but this scares me more than Bin Laden.

There are only nine months between now and the beginning of the Beijing Olympic Games and I really would like to know what’s going on. I don’t like to suspiciously check the mascot that will come for my daughter and in the end put it aside or better throw it away; furthermore, just not buy it and stop any of my friends from also doing so. I think the Chinese government has an obligation to answer these questions and do it now, while I’m still able to hear the answer because a few months after and a couple of more similar incidents I will not be able to hear anything.

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Emanuel Paparella2007-11-11 09:39:12
The Chinese have been toying with quite a few cultural phenomena too, such as democracy (the one party Communist system), religion ("religion is poison" Mao), the culture and ancestral traditions of othe people (Tibet), the idea that the material is all there is in the world (Marxian ideology), the idea that capitalism can be practiced with no democracy, and so on. Perhaps we should consider not doing business with the devil, but alas to do that we'd need a few principles and ideals of our own to uphold and defend. In my opinion, President Carter did the right thing when he cancelled partecipation of the US team in the Moscow Olympics after the Russian invasion of Afganistan.

Sand2007-11-11 16:44:31
It is, perhaps, ironic to see how eager the supposedly ideologically oriented west leaps into China which provides the cheap labor that undercuts the manufacturing employment in countries with a strong religious sector. So much for ideology! It is not difficult to see what is victorious when there is a contest between religious ethics and the bottom line.

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