I was tempted to describe as screamingly funny the latest Mainstream Media report describing the supposedly indescribable pain that U.S. imports from China in critical industries will keep facing following the new “Phase One” trade deal with the People’s Republic – and from the increases or new levies that could result if Beijing violates the terms.
Except any article dealing with the safety of products imported from China isn’t at all funny, especially considering that they can be killers, and that their victims have included children.
The piece in question: a report from Washington Post correspondent Rachel Siegel. Along with her editors, she evidently thinks that the U.S. economy will struggle to withstand the blow dealt by the ongoing tariff uncertainty confronting the classic toys sector. But on top of obsessing over the challenges facing producers (in China) of Lincoln Logs and My Little Pony, the Post crew responsible for the piece also delivered a world class jaw dropper by quoting the owner of a children’s furniture company who insists that “he can’t just relocate production to another country because he relies on China’s infrastructure to guarantee his products are safe.”
This depiction of China as the global capital of safe consumer goods production is literally gobsmacking. After all, children’s and other consumer products from China generally are still considered so potentially dangerous that the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission maintains a special website page listing product recalls from China. This past October’s entries alone (the latest figures available) numbered seven.
Nor has the company Siegel singled out – Delta Children, a New York City-based manufacturer of baby and kids furniture – escaped these problems. In 2008, some 1.6 million cribs it made in China, Indonesia, and Taiwan were pulled from stores because one of their features posed an entrapment and suffocation hazard for infants – and because two babies had been killed by this defect.
The recall didn’t solve the problem, either, for in 2010, Delta voluntarily recalled more than 747,000 additional cribs (including products made in China) after dozens of reports had been received of malfunctions and injuries (fortunately none of them serious).
And just two years ago, the company issued a smaller scale recall – for 28,000 strollers capable of breaking and injuring children.
Delta is hardly the only business that’s manufactured dangerous products in China, and there’s no evidence I’ve seen that it’s among the worst perpetrators. But the claim that producing in China is essential for producing safe goods for American consumers has to be a new low in self-serving bunkum – and indeed in dangerously self-serving bunkum. Or does that distinction goes to the journalist and her editors who parroted it?