Pique'n'yer interest 

Welcoming China, with caution

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It’s not just Burma that has me worried. In Darfur — where the Sundanese government has backed the Janjaweed militias that have reportedly killed or starved more than 200,000 people in the worst genocide since Rwanda — China has been less than helpful. They blocked and vetoed resolutions by the UN security council that might have resulted in a UN peacekeeping presence in that country and sanctions against the government in time to stop the worst massacres. Why? Many suspect it’s because energy-hungry China has agreements in place with the Sudanese government to purchase oil and develop oil ventures, and sell Chinese-made weapons.

China only recently changed its mind and supported the creation of an African Union and United Nations force of up to 26,000 troops to maintain the peace in Darfur. They deny that their sudden change of heart had anything to do with human rights activists threatening to protest at the 2008 Olympics.

Burma. Darfur. Tibet. Taiwan. Tiananmen. This is not a track record a country should be proud of.

Add in all the recent recalls of Chinese products that were contaminated with toxic toxic compounds, and my uneasiness with China only gets worse.

In the past I didn’t pay much attention to where the things I bought were manufactured, but trusted our government to ensure that everything was kosher. However, since our government is clearly more answerable to big business and corporate lobbyists than the general public, I’ve started to look for “Made In” labels when making purchasing decisions. I buy Made In Canada wherever possible, and follow my conscience when making other purchases. Lately that means avoiding Made In China labels, which is a lot more difficult than it sounds — China makes everything for everybody, at a price nobody else can match.

Compounding the difficulty is the uncomfortable fact that a lot of what we buy is labeled misleadingly. For example, for a product to display a “Product of Canada” label only 51 per cent of production costs have to be Canadian. For example, Chinese apple juice from concentrate in a Canadian-made container can be called a Product of Canada. The brand Europe’s Best is made in Canada using fruit and vegetables from Canada, Peru, Guatemala, and — you guessed it — China.

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