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Tuesday, May 31, 2005 

Taking Pot Shots at China's Exports

In the past month, several little news items came to my attention in the form of public caution announcements. The offending products included a baby's pacifier, popcorn popper, a steam iron and a vacuum cleaner.

Warning the public about potentially dangerous products is generally a good thing except when the public is only being warned about defective products coming from one particular country. In this case, that country is China. And all these announcements were published within a one month time frame...right around the same time when the EU and the US were issuing warnings to China about its surge in global textile exports (April 24, 2005 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/4478101.stm). The Greek media has been complaining for several months now about the sudden increase in Chinese shops opening up and putting Greek shops out of business.

I guess the national trade union and trade ministry strategy seems to be this: they can't keep the imports from flooding our shores, then they may as well concoct what looks to be a smear campaign against Chinese manufactured goods to punish businesses who import them and the customers who buy them. The only consumer warnings I've read regarding non-Chinese goods relate to food preparation and distribution scandals (FAGE yoghurt, Greek honey, "Para red"--a food dye, mad cows and cancerous chickens and it took well over 12 months to compile those 6 warnings and they were a lot more dangerous than a vacuum cleaner which has "a tendency to come apart, causing electric shock." Millions of people were affected by the food scandals and the government was left with no choice but to announce them. With regards to the Chinese goods, it looks like all it takes it one or two people to call up the Development ministry to complain about popcorn or irons to get them announced.

The answer to the burgeoning Chinese exports is not to be found in taking pot shots at Chinese exports but for the EU as a whole, to enforce its quota limits on Chinese goods unless China voluntarily reduces its exports.

Popcorn popper & Steam iron (April 29, 2005)
http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/news/content.asp?aid=55847

Vacuum cleaner (May 27, 2005)
http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/news/content.asp?aid=56803

Pacifier (May 31, 2005)
http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_politics_100024_31/05/2005_56932

It's getting worse. Lately the talking heads have started talking pot-shots at the Chinese themselves. Liarelis, yesterday (in the Pasokist MEGA) foamed at the takeover of Greek businesses by Chinks, who strong-arm Greeks out of the market.

Really, it should come as no surprise. The media (virtually all major TV and newspapers) are owned by commercial concerns, that, during the reign of the Pasoki cleptocracy, have expanded their operations to include virtually ALL areas of the economy.

The predictable result is that now our so-called News, have become the iron fist of their corporations' marketing arms. Hence:

1. The fierce attack on the "Vasiko Metoho" law (most of them own lucrative construction branches)
2. The rabid attack on the current N.D. government (better the cleptocrat you know, plus no-one can beat a Pasoki minister on a race to the bribe-trough)
3. The relentless advertising of pathetic singers, actors etc passed off as news (they own record labels, promotion agencies, advertising money etc)
4. Their silence at the out-sourcing of jobs and high unemployment, as firms relocate in the Balkans, capital relocates in Switzerland and hundreds of thousands of Albanians relocate in Greece. Note though that they harp constantly on the rising crime-rate and Albo criminality while never pushing for a stricter immigration policy and border controls. You see the plutocrats both want the Albos in and they want them hated, weak and illegal (that’s when you best can bleed them and the locals DRY).
5. The attack on the Chinese was only a matter of time. Since China entered the W.T.O. the pressure on their Textile industries grew. Yes, they relocated to Bulgaria to avoid paying Greek wages, but that was not enough. Now they have to convince the plebs to avoid Chinese goods altogether, even better to hate, the “kitrinous”.

Expect the LAOS demagogues to follow soon (yellow peril, perhaps?) and the Church not far behind (heathens, obviously). Understand, I have no great love for either Chinese or Albanians, but I hate being played. Well spotted btw. Yours was the first mention of the phenomenon I saw in the press.

Yiannis

I agree that the role of the Greek media serves nothing more than to be a mouthpiece for big business. I only watch tv news to spot trends like the one I've just mentioned. And considering the fact that most people get their 'news' from TV, it's no small wonder that popular opinion parrots in perfect mimicry whatever they saw last night at 6pm. "Conflict of interests" obviously does not translate well into Greek.

Well, they have gone one step further now. They have gone past issueing warnings about Chinese products, look at this from today's (2/6/05) Kathimerini:

Chinese crackdown
Teams of inspectors from the Economy and Development ministries — backed up by police officers and employees of the Labor Inspectorate and Social Security Foundation (IKA) — are to launch checks on Chinese businesses in 212 locations across Attica, officials said yesterday. The inspections are aimed at determining which businesses are violating fair competition regulations.

http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_economy_206_02/06/2005_57036

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