Chinese lead conspiracy?

So, as we all know, at least those of us who pay attention to Klingon security concepts, once is not notable, twice is bad luck, three times is enemy action.

Baby bibs on sale at ToysRus are being recalled for lead contamination. Guess what nation manufactures the bibs?

Beeep, time’s up.


Now, I suppose everyone has a bad week, now and again, but the timing on this is enough for my paranoia bump to start tingling, even though I have no particular mutt in the fracas, having no young children, and no penchant for buying Chinese goods. But the balance of payments issue is gonna get a real boost. Buy non Chinese is gonna be buy local, since international toy sales for Christmas are a done deal for this year. Is there any real reason that all three of these discoveries of hazard would be found in as short a time as the American Publics attention span?


Klingons?? I thought that was Goldfinger!

So you think the Chinese are deliberatly trying to give us lead poisoning?
Um… why would they do this again? Worst thing that’s going to happen is we’ll stop importing goods manufactured in China, and their economy will implode. As battle plans go, that one’s kinda… ineffective.

Actually the real reason behind these revelations is that the Bush Adminstration wants to invade China, as a distraction from its failures in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Karl Rove resignation is a smokescreen, for even now he is in a bunker at Camp David plotting to turn the Chinese invasion into political hay for '08.

Only wimps and dupes are arguing that the Chinese have been busy poisoning themselves for years, and that it’s no surprise they’d spread the wealth among their international customers.


sorry, this stuff upsets me.

A pretty obvious reason. If you were a toy manufacturer and lead had been discovered in toys produced in China, maybe you’d think about getting your Chinese product lines tested for lead before you got your ass sued? If lead paints had been routinely used, then at least a few of those tests would come back positive. So you could expect a cluster of recalls. Pretty much like you could expect a cluster of bridge closings after the 35West disaster in Minnesota.

Yeah, only the levels were “Happenstance”, “Coincidence” and “Enemy Action”.

I heard on the news that 80% of toys sold in the US are made in China, too, so that would make it even more likely that there would be lots of testing and more recalls after lead was discovered once or twice.

It’s the guys like the ones selling antifreeze mislabeled as an ingredient for pharmaceutical problems I worry about – they can (and probably have) killed a bunch of people, but I don’t think that’s a plot, either. To me, a conspiracy is the least likely explanation; greed and a callous disregard for the consequences to health and safety is the primary motivation for all these current problems with Chinese imports, seems to me.

At least 100, yeah. Someone called in to a local radio station this morning after they played the clip of the Mattell CEO on the air, saying that he probably knew about it all the time. (And thank Og that’s the craziest thing I’ve heard on Edmonton radio ever).

Why people like to see conspiracies is strange, but it’s like you and Finagle posted. Some shit was going on, people are getting leery enough that they started testing everything out of China for more and different problems, and a bunch more stuff got found.

Does the OP think the same people convinced them to build a bridge without rebar?

I wasn’t particularly limiting my paranoia to Chinese conspirators trying to kill kids. I was considering conspiracies dedicated to collapsing the Chinese market, or Industrial Outsourcing, or rogue Communist Party infighting in China, or . . . well, hey, it’s paranoia, man, let your mind wander!


Here’s the deal. A big chunk of the toys/parts/items sourced from China are done so by small middlemen that are really small business owners. I know many people doing this business. Usually deal with one off orders, small batch orders, promotional toys like for McDonalds, etc. It costs about USD10,000 to have an independant lab test a batch. One batch is maybe worth a maximum of USD50,000 profit to the middleman. The middleman generally only does the testing if required because he is closing a few deals a year and the testing is a big chunk of money. Until the buyers require testing, it’s not going to be self policing.

Now, in China, if you’re the little end producer out in the countryside somewhere, you buy cheap materials. These materials may or may not be labeled correctly. Or the producers are unknowingly using pirated materials, and these can contain banned products. So, there is there is no great conspiracy or even malice. (I’ll grant the toothpaste anti freeze is an exception, but no one is out there thinking they will deliberately put lead into American children)

The Chinese government certainly doesn’t want to see any of this happen because it hurts the “Chinese brand image” and reduces export demand. Exports drive standards of living up, and rising living standards keeps support for the government. So, this is a freaking nightmare for the Chinese government. It’s mindboggling how difficult it is to put in the regulatory agencies, testing, verification, etc into place, and everyone would agree China has a long ways to go.

China Guy:
Yeah, that’s what it looks like to me. The National Geographic article a couple months ago on China’s industrial cities was a real eye-opener. Like, there’d be one fly-by-night operation that makes the d-rings for bras. Just the d-rings, and he’s only in business in one town for 1 year before it’s more profitable to move the factory to a different city, lock, stock & barrel (and most of the workers, too).

So, if the guy making just the beds for Barbie’s Bedtime Playset uses cheap lead-based pink paint on *just *the loft bed, because it “fell off a truck” his cousin was walking behind, how are you going to stop him?It’s not like Mattel oversees the whole operation - their buyers go to toymaker’s expos with designs, approach upper-middlemen and place orders, then upper-middlemen approach middle-middlemen to divvy up the work, then the middle-middlemen go to the lower-middlemen to source individual bits from factory owners. It’s a lot like the medieval guild system. As long as it looks like the spec, who’s to know, right? There’s no direct, continuous chain of quality control like you’d think was happening.

But hey, I can get a Happy Meal with toy for less than $2, so I should shut up and just teach Lil’ Dibble not to lick her toys, right?

From what I understand from some websites (sorry, no cite) they were knowingly using some lead based paint because it wouldn’t fade like non lead based paint. If this does in fact turn out to be the case, it’s gonna be a shitstorm on a massive scale.

Just my two cents, now where’s my change.

There isn’t a clear chain of oversight in US companies, either. When the EU came out with RoHS environmental regulations, it was extremely difficult to comply with all of the regulations of guaranting that there weren’t prohibited substances in the products.

Another difference is that there are strick government controls in the US, with a greater percentage of companies complying, so the agencies only have to go after a few bad apples.

As China Guy notes, the Chinese government doesn’t regulate well, doesn’t have the regulatory infrastructure in place and is suddenly put on the spot.

It is good to remember, though when my extreme-right wing BIL goes off on how bad “big government” is, that having standards on product safety and the ability to crack down on violators isn’t a bad idea.

The massive supply chain snake is just now waking from it’s slumber and turning it’s eyes to Africa, India, South America, The Caribbean…

It’ll take a couple years because it’s not the type of thing that can change overnight, but I can guarantee the PR companies for the various third world countries will be hyping up these problems every time they come down the pike.

Follow up post. My wife reminds me of the massive corruption within the Chinese bureaucracy which makes it that much more difficult to regulate industry.

For those believing in conspiracy theories - hey, it’s not just American children put at risk for christ’s sake, there ARE other countries that Mattel is sold in!!

True - we’ve had recalls here (in South Africa) too (Barbie, Polly Pocket, Sarge-from-Cars) - but like a total of 19 000 toys, which doesn’t really compare, I think, to the massive amounts I’m reading about in the US. Though even that pales besides the Ford recall, IMO, and no-one’s making conspiracy theories about that, are they?

I guess I’m going to have to throw out all of my kid’s toys that were made in China. I hope they’re not upset when I tell them I’m going to build new toys out of wood for them because they won’t have any left.

Seriously though, is this stuff just coming to light now, and it’s been going on for years? Cheap novelty plastic crap has been imported from China for years and I don’t remember any recall scenarios like this before.

Years ago, when I was working in one of the distribution centers for a US clothing chain, we got in a bunch of keychains that had a little metal truck on them. I couldn’t but notice that the metal they were made of was soft. The only metal that I could think of that would be that soft was lead. I went to my supervisor and pointed this out to him. His response was basically, “Well surely the people who designed that thing know that lead is bad and wouldn’t allow it to be made of lead. Besides, we’ve no way of testing it, and I don’t know who we’d tell if the stuff was lead.”

As only a “fairy” would use the word, “happenstance,” and as NO Klingons, not even the Marketing Department, would use such a “totally gay” word as “happenstance,” I can only assume you are part of the conspiracy.