Friday, August 24, 2007

Just say no to 'Made in China'

National Post: Published: Friday, August 24, 2007

Re: 'Made In China' Has To Be Safer, Editorial, Aug. 23.

The Chinese government promises to strengthen regulation of product safety and punish severely those who manufacture sub-standard 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, nongovernmental 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 made in China one is never absolutely sure that the water inside the bottle is safe to drink.

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.

Charles Burton, associate professor, Department of Political Science, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ont.

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

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