Hot off writing about the now-false story about cardboard pork flavored sticky buns on the streets of Beijing, the AP is still on the prowl looking for other dirt on Chinese quality and safety issues. According to a recent story posted on the wire and picked up by CNN, Beijing is attempting to improve its image abroad, especially with EU and US officials by "shutting down a chemical plant linked to dozens of deaths in Panama from tainted medicine and closing two companies tied to pet deaths in North America." Now, we can all agree that a minority of producers in China need to improve their safety inspections and quality testing.
But when Salmonella and other outbreaks from meat processing facilities in the US result in the deaths of the young and old, the facilities aren't just shuttered. They're put under closer monitoring and related programs to improve product safety. Perhaps the solution to China's woes is to mandate a small export tariff or related tax that would go directly to funding more aggressive testing for certain classifications of products for the export market. Given low wage rates, China would have the potential to catapult itself ahead of other developing nations and existing superpowers from a product safety perspective while minimizing the costs involved by undertaking a program such as this.
Also, as much as I hate lawyers -- and trial lawyers especially -- in general, I'd be strongly supportive of stronger product liability laws in China that would make the potential local and global law-suit costs of non-compliance make manufacturers think twice before cutting corners. In between stumping for protectionist policies, perhaps we could have John Edwards, the trial lawyer and Democratic presidential candidate, talk some sense into them 😉