Thursday, August 16, 2007

Why China Sells Poisoned Toothpaste and Poisoned Toys and Defective Tires

The Chinese Government promises to strengthen regulation of product safety and punish severely those who manufacture substandard stuff that is dangerous and unhealthy. But the issue is not simply greedy factory owners who put maximizing their profits over the public good or Government inspectors who can be bribed or intimidated to look the other way. The more fundamental cause is systemic. Under China's one-Party dictatorship, non-governmental organizations such as consumer advocacy groups are not allowed to form. Journalists who expose malfeasance are charged with "false reporting" or "endangering state security." The judiciary is not independent of Government, so the powerful are always protected. The upshot is that when buying a bottle of water in China one is never absolutely sure that the water inside the bottle is what the label on the outside promises and is safe to drink. The prevalence of above legal levels of preservatives, insecticides and other chemicals and bacteria in fresh and prepared foods is also a cause for concern. Fake products and consumer fraud is a fact of life in China today that one learns to live with.

The other negative characteristic of China's current political system is that no one truly represents the interests of ordinary Chinese people. When China's Communist Party abandoned Marxist ideology 20 years ago, it evidently also abandoned its commitment to furthering social justice.

So until China achieves democracy, I'm brushing my teeth with Canadian paste.

An editorial in the National Post on this topic can be found here:
My letter in response to this editorial can be found here:
A letter to the Globe and Mail on this topic can be found here:
An interesting report on fake Vineland, Ontario icewine on sale in China can be found here:

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