U.S. Senator Calls For Inspection Of All Imported Chinese Toys

Wants to temporarily detain and inspect all shipments

The uproar over defective Chinese toys -- on the heels of scares about unsafe tires, tainted pet food and other flawed goods -- has led to calls for greater regulation. Dick Durban, the number two Democrat in the Senate called on Aug. 14 for the inspection of all Chinese toys imported into the U.S. after Mattel recalled 18 million Chinese-made products worldwide.

"We can't wait any longer for China to crack down on its lax safety standards," Senator Dick Durbin said. "This needs to stop now before more children and more families are put at risk."

"This problem is serious, and I think that we should temporarily detain and inspect all shipments of children's products from China that contain paint," he said.

That call was echoed Aug. 15 in the editorial pages of the New York Times. "American businesses and the (George W.) Bush administration must send a clear message to Beijing that it has to clean up its act or its export-led boom will falter," the newspaper wrote.

"What China needs is an effective and transparent regulatory system to enforce product safety standards," the Times continued, but until it develops one, "it is the clear responsibility of companies that import Chinese products to guarantee their safety, and American regulators have to ensure they do it adequately," the daily wrote.

The Times cautioned against a boycott of Chinese goods -- a response advocated by some -- saying it "could spark a mutually destructive trade war." Instead, the editors wrote, "companies like Mattel may need to station their own full-time inspectors with their Chinese suppliers -- and make clear that they'll take their business elsewhere if those suppliers refuse to go along," the daily wrote.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Aug. 14 said dangerous imported products and massive recalls would be on the table at the upcoming August 20-21 summit of the North American Free Trade Agreement. "The importation of products from abroad and the safety standards of those products that will be something we'll be taking a look at from a continental perspective," he said.

China reacted Aug. 15 insisting that the vast majority of its exports to the U.S. were safe, but said it would investigate the Mattel recalls. "For many years, there has been a complete and strict set of supervision systems to safeguard the quality and safety of China's exports," the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said. "The vast majority of China's export products to the U.S. conform to American standards."

China's toy industry is a pillar of the country's economy, earning some $17.8 billion for the nation last year and employing hundreds of thousands of workers.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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