The New York Times has written a report about tainted Heparin in 11 countries and it claims that the source of this tainted blood thinner is Chinese factories. This is another bad report on bad Chinese exports. The world has learned about the poisonous pet food, poisonous toothpaste, lead-painted toys, and now this medicine. I think there’s more to the story than just bad publicity.
Life-threatening exports. Oops. Time to start considering whether that money-saving production short cut is really such a good idea. I can totally see some shifty local factory owner pocketing extra cash by taking a shortcut in production or using some cheaper supplies or equipment. As I’ve said in “China is…” the Chinese are as deadly serious about saving money as Americans are about making it. When Deng suggested that making money is glorious, he never mentioned ethics, but that’s something I think the Chinese people could also benefit from. It’s just too bad they have to be internationally humiliated many times before they start to get over themselves and get it.
But to China, it doesn’t matter if the cat is white or black, just as long as it kills the cat. That idea has mutated into practices that are helping to cause and continue China’s glorious economic boom. It is also fueling corruption and shady business practices like those that increase glorious profits at the expense of (inglorious) product safety.
China, ever child-like, probably doesn’t see that they’ve really done anything wrong. What they understand is that they’ve been caught doing something an international community doesn’t agree with and as a result have lost face. China is embarrassed publicly and that’s the terrible thing. They may not really understand why, but they won’t admit that and they won’t ask why because of their cultural value for tolerance. What the Chinese understand is that they are shamed publicly and for that they will do their best to put a happy face on the situation, so that their cultural value for harmony is maintained. Little will change because little will be done to actually understand the situation because that would require that the Chinese people question their social architects and that’s not going to happen. Those guys are the authority and the authority is never wrong because of the Chinese cultural value of respect for authority. It’s those crazy foreigners attacking China again and plotting to keep China down. Yeah, that’s it. So China makes happy face with arrests, executions, new laws, or whatever, but it will be business as usual and nothing much will really influence the populations willing to do whatever it takes to make that glorious money for themselves and their families.
At the same time, in the New York Times article, there is no mention that the company actually outsourcing the production of the tainted Heparin, Baxter International, will take any legal responsibility. In fact, in the article it talks about the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) having to spend more money as a result of necessary inspections of such imported products. I think this is outrageous. Why do Americans blame the gun manufacturers when a child accidentally shoots someone or file lawsuits against cigarette companies for our lung cancer yet Baxter has no legal responsibility for the products made from its international factories? Worse yet, we are going to put the burden of this clean up effort on the taxpayer! What a sweet deal for the corporation. The pro-consumption-based business environment of this world is killing this world softly, but we can always blame China, and China can in turn blame us. What goes around comes around.
So is this latest article in the New York Times a little biased against China? You be the judge. In the USA, people usually criticize the media as being biased and “too liberal.” Most Chinese people I know don’t know that. However, when it comes to international reporting, most Americans I know never question whether the media is biased or too liberal. Those Americans just believe what they see and hear. I think the New York Times and other media could do a little more to report positive news about China, and Americans could actually be as careful and considerate, savvy and cynical about reports of international news as they are with reports of domestic news.
Lastly, as glorious as American corporations can be, looking for scapegoats for their wrongdoings and unethical behavior cannot be tolerated. True, China has produced and exported some serious junk, but we can’t turn a legitimate attempt to report and improve the situation into a witch-hunt. We can’t blame the little guy for all of the bad decisions made at the top. If a glorious American company like Baxter produces in 28 countries and sells in more than 100(1), that’s not just glorious that’s an increased burden of responsibility for that company. If a glorious American company outsources some factory in China and that factory makes poison, then that glorious American company should ultimately be held responsible, not the US taxpayer or every Chinese person working hard to be glorious too.
(1)http://custom.marketwatch.com/custom/nyt-com/html-companyprofile.asp?MW=http://marketwatch.nytimes.com/custom/nyt-com/html-companyprofile.asp&symb=BAX&sid=782#compinfo. On line company report. Viewed 23April2008.