12). Six weeks after that public relations disaster for RC2 Toys, other toy company, Fisher-Price, was obliged to recall "nearly 1 million of its most popular character toys, also because of lead paint," Field continues. Not long after those embarrassing recalls, Mattel and Fisher-Price announced "three more recalls from China" (Field, 12).
When an adult item is recalled, it doesn't make as big a negative splash as when items for children are recalled, so the toy industry was truly rocked by these events. One can also factor in the American economic downturn at the time of these above-mentioned recalls; that is, when people are out of work by the millions, and many are having their homes foreclosed, to have one's hard-earned dollars spend on a product that might sicken family members is doubly impactful on the negative side of the ledger.
Field explains that the recalls have had a "far-reaching impact on the health of the U.S. toy industry" because more than 90% of toys that are sold in the United States are imported; and of those imported toy items, 85% are manufactured in China (p. 12). These toy recalls hurt China's image even more because they came on the heels of the revelation of "alleged unfair trade practices" by the giant Asian nation. Was it the design of the toys that caused the problems? Was it the lack of good testing strategies? Carter Keithley is president of the Toy Industry Association and he spoke recently to a conference in China; Keithley explained that the "toy safety standards along the global supply chain are excellent" but what is lacking is testing and inspection processes (Field, 12).
Of course Keithley is not an objective bystander in this matter, and he is going to put the best possible light on the subject. He stressed to his audience in China that the "overwhelming percentage of U.S. toys are safe and that safety issues were limited to just a few companies" (Field, 12). In fact the toys that were recalled represented just 1% of all the toys sold in the U.S. In 2007, Keithley assured his audience. That 1% however adds up to around 25 million of the total 3 billion toys sold; and in about 30% of the recalls lead pain "was the culprit," Field explains (12).
Following the widespread U.S. media coverage of the lead paint problem in toys manufactured in China, the U.S. Congress quickly got into the act. The House passed H.R. 4040 by a vote of 407-0. H.R. 4040 passed the House in December, 2007, and passed in the Senate (79-13) in March, 2008, and was signed by then President George W. Bush (Govtrack.us). The bill was called the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, and it basically made any children's consumer product that contains more than specified amounts of lead "a banned hazardous product under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act" (Field, 13). Also, the bill requires "independent third-party testing of children's products" albeit Field remarks that ultimately, importers have the responsibility for testing the toys they bring in from foreign manufacturers prior to selling them to families / consumers (13).
Field goes on to explain that notwithstanding the negative publicity about toys manufactured in China, the Asian nation is expanding its presence globally. The U.S. imported $22.2 billon worth of toys in 2006, Field writes; and the North American toy market remains the largest in the world, with sales (in 2006) totaling $24.1 billion (35% of the $67 billion spend throughout the world on children's toys) (Field, 13).
Literature Review -- Chinese Drywall Problems
An article in Popular Mechanics (Hadhazy, 2009) points out what can happen to a family when low-quality drywall is installed in their home -- and in this case, the drywall in question was imported from China. This is another one of those cases where the phrase "Made in China" makes a sizable number of American consumers red in the face with frustration and anger. To wit, Keith Baker began to notice "sour smells emanating from the walls" of his brand new home in Fort Meyers, Florida, in March 2008. After the bad smells, Baker also noted that the copper pipes from his hot water heater "turned black… as though someone threw soot on them" (Hadhazy, p. 1). Next, he and his wife began to struggle with "sinus problems, dizzy spells and muscle aches" -- which the Baker family along with "thousands of homeowners in Florida and elsewhere" blamed on low-quality, imported drywall.
What was in the drywall that caused these problems? U.S. Senator Bill Nelson of Florida -- who estimated that as many as 100,000 American homes used this particular brand of drywall from China -- said that the Florida Department of Health's research indicated "that the gypsum in some Chinese drywall contains strontium sulfide" (Hadhazy, p. 1). The problem with strontium sulfide is that is "releases sulfurous gases" and that homeowners' complaints (nosebleeds, respiratory ailments, black coatings that tarnish shower fixtures and corrode air conditioner coils) most likely result from the Chinese manufactured drywall.
Is the evidence conclusive that the problems homeowners are complaining about are all due to the Chinese drywall? No it is not absolutely 100% conclusive. Still, Hadhazy explains that class-action suits were filed and the Lennar Corporation (that ordered the drywall from China) announced it will "fund the only known remedy: removing the drywall, replacing damaged plumbing and wiring, and relocating homeowners until new materials are installed" (Hadhazy, pp. 1-2). This replacement and repair project has no doubt cost Lennar Corporation millions of dollars, and moreover, it has muddied the reputation of the company that bought drywall from China and caused so many physical and emotional and financial headaches for so many homeowners.
Literature Review -- Safety of Food & Medical Supplies from China
An article in Modern Healthcare (Rhea, 2007) explores several other issues that tend to give the phrase "Made in China" a suspicious tone. The author explains that some toothpaste that comes in an oral-care kit used by hospitals use "might…[be] laced with the toxin diethylene glycol, a coolant sometimes used illegally as a glycerin counterfeit" (Rhea, p. 1). When it learned that the toothpaste it was giving to patients might be toxic, the University Health Care System in Augusta Georgia, spend two days "…scrambling about the hospital to retrieve hundreds of tubes of toothpaste labeled "Made in China" (Rhea, 1). As a result of the concerns that have been raised by Americans and by the U.S. government, the officials at the Health and Human Services (HHS) department began working out memos of understanding between the U.S. And China in August, 2007. These memos spelled out "…steps the Chinese officials will take to ensure safety regulations are enforced on products exported to the U.S." (Rhea, 1).
President George W. Bush acted in July to try and come to terms with the ongoing list of faulty products imported from China; he issued an executive order that created an "import-safety working group" that was responsible for finding out where the breakdowns occur when it comes to the safety of imported drugs, food and medical devices.
The article in Modern Healthcare also mentioned the other imports from China that have been flawed or in some way were unsafe. These include seafood, toys, pet food, and as mentioned above, drywall.
Writer Richard de Melim explains in Cabinet Maker that the recall of an estimated 18 million Chinese made products (in the UK and the U.S. And elsewhere) has created a "worldwide media frenzy" because the goods in question range from children's clothing to jewelry and even to mattresses (de Melim, 2007). The writer of this column excuses China to some extent by explaining that in a country with 8,000 factories, China "… would have to be more than exemplary to not fall foul of some standards… problems are to be expected," he continued (de Melim, p. 1).
De Melim explained that another problem in this matter is that there is a lack of manufacturing brands in China, and that leads to a lack of accountability. In other words, one manufacturer, Yue Yuen, produces athletic shoes for Nike, Puma, Adidas and Timberland. And when something goes wrong with, say, a Nike shoe, like a flaw in the insole for example, American consumers don't blame Yue Yuen, they of course blame Nike. This to de Melim shows that it is the "power of the market muscle in the West that actually sells the product rather than any specific product excellence." In other words, people by Nike because of the brand name, not because of the extraordinary quality of the shoe. And if there is a problem with the Chinese manufacturer Yue Yuen, Nike better fix it or they will lose market share in the U.S.
The methods that a researcher uses when approaching a business paper of this nature entail the use of intelligent research, good writing techniques, and fairness in the narrative. As to…