Obama retreats from China toy ban call

Updated: 2007-12-25 07:35

WASHINGTON: Hopeful US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has retreated from a pledge to halt US imports of Chinese-made toys because of safety concerns.

Instead, the Illinois senator, who is in a tight race with Senator Hillary Clinton of New York to win the Democratic presidential nomination, reiterated his longstanding call to bar toys with more than a trace amount of lead.

"Now, don't get me wrong: As president, I'll work with China to keep harmful toys off our shelves," he said in Greenfield, Iowa, according to a statement from his campaign for the November 2008 election.

Obama had told voters in New Hampshire last Wednesday that he would stop importing all toys from China, which supplies about 80 percent of US toys.

His remarks were rebuked by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

"That some Chinese products are substandard does not justify taking a part for the whole and criticizing all Chinese products," the ministry's spokesman Qin Gang said in Beijing last Thursday.

There is no single US standard for lead content in toys, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission primarily works by recalling toys after they have been found to be unsafe, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

In his remarks to the Iowa audience, Obama said as president he would require independent testing of toys before they reach US stores.

In addition, he said he would boost penalties on companies that break the rules.

More than 1,000 Chinese toy makers have been stripped of exporting licenses since August as the government initiated a campaign to eliminate substandard toys.

In the latest move to ensure higher product safety, the government has announced that, as of January, all toys on the market must have the China Compulsory Certification.

Agencies

(China Daily 12/25/2007 page2)