Is It Time to Stop Doing Business with China?
Plundering Natural Resources and the Environment
• Furniture: Chinese manufacturers are importing illegally-logged hardwood from some of the world’s most fragile ecosystems, including Brazil, Indonesia and West Africa. According to the Environmental Investigation Agency and the Jakarta-based Telapak, China is “the largest buyer of stolen timber in the world.” Up to 44% of its imports are smuggled.
• Coal: “One of China’s lesser-known exports is a dangerous brew of soot, toxic chemicals and climate-changing gasses from the smokestacks of coal-burning power plants,” write Keith Bradsher and David Barboza in The New York Times. Apart from causing an estimated 400,000 premature Chinese deaths a year, clouds of sulfur and carbons have drifted across Asia and reached the West Coast of the United States, with microscopic particles contaminating the lungs of unsuspecting Americans.
Poisoning and Endangering Americans
• Toys: This week, a small Oak Brook, Ill. toy company, RC2, was forced to recall 1.5 million Thomas & Friends wooden trains and components made in China, because they were coated with lead paint that can cause brain damage to young children. Last month, fake eyeball toys from China were found filled with kerosene. Toy drums and a toy bear were recalled because of the use of lead paint. Wal-Mart issued a nationwide recall of baby’s bibs made in China, because of lead contamination. In all, the number of dangerous products made in China that were recalled last year at the behest of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission totaled 467.
• ATVs: Two weeks ago, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said that the Kazuma Meerkat 50, a youth-oriented, all-terrain vehicle imported from China, caused children to be at “risk of injury or death due to multiple safety defects.” Among them: No front breaks, no parking brake and it can be started in gear.