Friday, August 24, 2007


And now it's war. To follow up on various nations declaring 'the war on drugs', the 'war on terrorism', and 'the war on Christmas', China announced that it is declaring war on Toys, or rather tainted ones:

'... China has launched a four-month "war" on tainted food, drugs and exports, state media reported on Friday, as beleaguered officials embraced time-tested campaign tactics to clean up the country's battered image.

Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi told officials the campaign, to run to the end of the year, would focus on problem products that have badly dented domestic and foreign consumers' confidence in the "Made in China" label.

"This is a special battle to protect the health and personal interests of the public and to protect the reputation of Chinese goods and the national image," Wu said, according to the government...'

Personally I've been rather suspicious of the timing of all of the revelations of crappy products coming from China. It's as if suddenly over the past six months, everything from pet food to toys has been contaminated. What, there was no problem before? Suddenly it's all happening now, and prior to that everything was hunky dory? I doubt that. It's not passing the smell test to me (though to be fair, I doubt that the pet food is either.)

So China is now trying to defend itself in the media, which is smart, since that's where the problem is originating. Their products have always been crap - crap for the environment, crap for the workers and crap for the consumers. That's why American companies love them so. The entire country is one and a half billion people living in a Dickens novel, and like all of the people of the nineteenth century who lived in their own Dickens novel, it's going to take at least a century to make their lives better. But in the meantime there's billions to be made!

Actually both the US consumer and China could learn from each other. China needs to catch up with how to play in the media battlefield. They could do worse than following the former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's latest endeavors. Seems he's hired a Republican lobbying firm to try to set the groundwork for his taking over Iraq. That's $300K well spent. He'll go far.

And the US consumer definitely could learn a thing or two from China. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission is currently a man down, operating with only two of three necessary people needed to run it. Nancy Nord is currently running the show and is famous for her pro-business attitudes (she comes from the US Chamber of Commerce). The President is pushing for Michael Baroody to take over the whole agency. His experience? He's the head lobbyist for the National Association of Manufacturers. Talk about putting the foxes in charge of the hen house.

But what could the US Consumer learn from China? Well, when the Chinese government found out that their head of the national food and drug safety watchdog was as corrupt as any Bush administration crony, they dealt with him rather severely:

"The execution of Zheng Xiaoyu was also part of that campaigning approach to get officials' attention," said Mao, referring to the former head of the national food and drug safety watchdog, who was executed in July for taking bribes."