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Grovelling Before China

Posted by Author on September 26, 2007

Editorials, The Economic Times, India, 26 Sep, 2007-

Every international trade incident raises both hackles and chuckles. These days the quips are being generated by the quality of Chinese products. Along with things like seafood and toothpaste, it was Chinese-made tyres that first shook the US.

The distinctly unhealthy habit of the treading on these tyres coming apart led to the recall of about 255,000 of them. Then arose disturbing visions of Thomas the Tank Engine sort of toys annihilating toddlers. However, some redemption for the Chinese came last week when US toy major, Mattel, issued an amazing apology over the recall of millions of Chinese-made toys.

Mattel wisely said the lead paint problem wasn’t of Chinese origin, but rather due to its own ‘design flaw’. The stand of the Communist Party of China (CPC) that these accusations were nothing but Yankee capitalist perfidy was thus vindicated. But a few bloggers thought otherwise. It was, said one, like that lawyer apologising to Cheney after Cheney shot him.

So, despite the suicide of a Chinese toy company owner involved in the massive recall, as the new coats of paint dry off, Chinese toys can maintain their 80% US market share. That figure does present possibilities on how the CPC could implant ideological correctives in young minds, but the real lesson here has been the quaverings of the world before the now-awake dragon.

Mattel, and world markets, need China more than China needs them. The CPC needs to utilise this new power judiciously.

It could do something that holds great symbolic significance. One possibility is making the world eat its derisory words on the literary value of Chairman Mao. The latter, of course, was also a poet.

One of his poems, ‘The People’s Liberation Army Captures Nanking’, for example, has the lines: ‘Our mighty army, a million strong, has crossed the Great river/The city, a tiger crouching, a dragon curling…”

The literati could easily be made to see how the sarcous simile has been reduced to evoking a film title, and how Mao needs to be established as a major world poet. Would it be so surprising if another apology over a biased critical appraisal follows?

Original article from The Economic Times

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