It’s easy to blame China, but not always right

TEH ENG KOON/AFP/Getty Media outlets around the world have focused on toy-safety problems in China, most recently Mattel’s recalls of millions of Chinese-made toys. And many analysts are concluding that Chinese products in general are “wreaking havoc at home and abroad.” But the Wall Street Journal offers an interesting comment today: Of the approximately 18.6 ...

TEH ENG KOON/AFP/Getty

Media outlets around the world have focused on toy-safety problems in China, most recently Mattel's recalls of millions of Chinese-made toys. And many analysts are concluding that Chinese products in general are "wreaking havoc at home and abroad." But the Wall Street Journal offers an interesting comment today:

Of the approximately 18.6 million toys recalled world-wide, 436,000 are being pulled off shelves for containing impermissible levels of toxic lead paint. According to Mattel, these toys were manufactured by a contract supplier....

TEH ENG KOON/AFP/Getty

Media outlets around the world have focused on toy-safety problems in China, most recently Mattel’s recalls of millions of Chinese-made toys. And many analysts are concluding that Chinese products in general are “wreaking havoc at home and abroad.” But the Wall Street Journal offers an interesting comment today:

Of the approximately 18.6 million toys recalled world-wide, 436,000 are being pulled off shelves for containing impermissible levels of toxic lead paint. According to Mattel, these toys were manufactured by a contract supplier….

The other 18 million toys in the current recall suffer from an unrelated defect, one that has nothing to do with where they were made. They feature small magnets that can detach and, if swallowed, cause serious or even fatal intestinal injuries in children. This is not the fault of the Chinese manufacturers that made the toys. It seems to be the fault of the engineers who designed them and would have been a hazard even if the toys had been manufactured in the U.S.

While that obviously shouldn’t detract from the very real safety issues concerning products ranging from toothpaste to pharmaceuticals, it is important for providing some perspective: It’s not always China’s fault. Millions of Chinese products are safe, and make our lives easier and cheaper to an incredible degree. Of course it’s important to tackle the problems with product-safety regulation in China, but it’s equally important that we don’t throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.

Prerna Mankad is a researcher at Foreign Policy.

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.