Sun, Nov 25, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Hillary slams China again in toy spat, urges US action


Democratic presidential front-runner Senator Hillary Clinton on Friday slammed China for calling her criticism of made-in-China toys "slander," and urged Washington to take "immediate, decisive steps" to protect American children.

Clinton's statement came a day after China railed against her warning on Tuesday of a dangerous tide of Chinese-made gifts, saying that "any slander or exaggeration of facts is irresponsible."

"This is the same government that just this month revoked the licenses of more than 750 of its toy companies because of quality control problems and ordered another 690 to renovate or improve their facilities, even as it asserted that 99 percent of toy exports met quality standards," Clinton said in her statement.


"And the Chinese govern-ment's watchdog agency reported earlier this year that 20 percent of the toys made and sold in China pose safety risks. That is unacceptable," she said.

Clinton also took up China's claim that the majority of problems with Chinese toy exports were attributable to "design faults by [foreign] importers and designers."

The New York senator said that US companies "have to do a better job at every stage of the process ... to make sure that the toys they are bringing into this country -- and profiting from -- do not pose risks to children."

"As the holiday shopping season begins," Clinton said, "our government should be taking immediate, decisive steps to ensure that the toys we are importing from China and other countries are safe."

China is the world's top toy exporter, selling 22 billion toys overseas last year, 60 percent of the globe's total.


Meanwhile, multinationals making a beeline for China could face spiraling wage costs because of a shortage of experienced staff, a study warned yesterday.

The Hay Group surveyed 4,500 executives of foreign firms in China. More than a third reported that they were struggling to meet revenue, profit and growth targets.

Talent shortage "is more severe than most global company leaders based outside of China realize," the study said, describing the shortage as the biggest performance hurdle.

Before heading to China, companies should not only do a standard financial audit but also "people due diligence," the Business Times quoted Goh Hern Yin, Hay's former China manager, as saying.

"Otherwise they will run headlong into spiralling hidden operational costs," said Goh, currently regional business development manager.

Companies are finding themselves incurring more staffing costs as they are unable to fill key regional positions locally and have to import foreign talent.

Hay's research found the competition for talent has created a job-hopping culture and pushed salaries up.

Many multinationals struggle to build effective reward programs in China while facing wages that are growing more than 9 percent a year, Hays said.

They seem to have ignored the fundamental rule of paying for performance, the study said, and have ended up over-paying, even for underperformance.

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