Red flag

Perhaps I was overly indoctrinated as a kid in what the good old American Way amounts to--capitalism AND democracy-- but I still think of what so many others seem to now reflexiveley refer to as "China" as Red China.

Then again, in my own defense, let me point out that despite the faux capitalist system now flourishing over there--- for good or bad, I am not sure yet--the People's Republic of China remains a Communist dictatorship. Now, don't get me wrong. I am all for international engagement. For one thing, I figure that despite what he tried to do to our Consitution, Richard "Tricky Dick" Nixon will end up with some good marks in future history books for having "re-opened" China to the West with his trip there 35 years ago.

Sadly, though, I was reminded lately by both a TV documentary on the savage crushing of the political dissent displayed at Tiananmen Square in 1989 and all the bad ink China is now getting on defective-- to the point of deadly-- consumer goods it's shipping over here by the boatload that China as a nation is still not worthy of the full measure of our national trust.

Trucking has been directly affected by defective tires and I was frankly stunned to learn toothpaste was being sold in my home state that was made in China using such lovely ingredients as diethylene glycol, a chemical component of antifreeze.


Maybe it is stating the obvious, but I gotta say, if you can't trust a trading partner to supply you with something as benign and ubiquitous as toothpaste that won't potentailly kill you, why on earth would you trust them to supply you with trucks or cars-- or their components-- that won't perhaps fail in operation?

Sure, I am painting with a broad brush here but the cases of defective products coming at us from China cover a pretty wide chunk of territory too.

Yes, there are U.S. and other non-Chinese manufacturers operating in China-- household names inside and outside trucking for that matter-- and no doubt their oversight of their own operations means we have no more to worry about the products they produce there than we do the same ones they produce in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Europe, Brazil or where have you.

Still, this daunting issue should give fleet owners pause to think about where their components (and maybe vehicles in the future!) are being sourced and, above all, who is ultimately responsible for their effective-- and safe-- performance.

Online at The New York Times you can read their report today that the Consumer Product Safety Commission is preparing proposals that could mandate broader inspections of imports and bigger penalties for ignoring safety rules.

I'd only add that it would behoove suppliers that source anything from China to keep in mind that the bad publicity Chinese-manufactured goods are receiving could plant a red flag of suspicion on their products-- and perhaps they should address this concern with their customers in North America and elsewhere.