and the truth shall set you free!

From teddy-bears to dumplings, from Toys r’Us to Mattel, the list of stories which condemn Chinese manufacturing firms, along with their attitude towards responsible production methods, grows longer every day. Even the Fed’s Drug AGency got involved three years ago when they realised that the Certification for the Chinese factory which produced half of all Heparin in use in America referred to a factory in another Chinese City.

When the Chinese Government woke up to the fact that there were lots more people who had cash to buy things, they tried, belatedly, to impose an ethical system setting standards for, amongst other things, powdered milk for baby foods. They imposed strict limits for minimum protein content for that milk powder, without unfortunately imposing equally strict limits upon the need for the powder to be made from milk alone! So the Chinese, always quick to spot an even easier way of making a buck, found that if the milk supplied to the factories was mixed with Melamine, a plastic resin, the protein content rocketed, and they got paid more money. Unfortunately, they believed that Melamine was an inert substance, but equally unfortunately for the thousands of babies and very young children, they were wrong. 300,000 babies were hospitalized, six died and many suffered kidney problems.

Ai Weiwei, a Chinese ‘artist’, won a commission for one of his creations to be set in the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern, opposite St. Pauls Cathedral. As his idea was to lay 100 million porcelain sunflower seeds on the Hall floor, and then have visitors walk over them, presumably all exclaiming “how wonderful!” as they did so, he went to China and arranged for the manufacture of the aforementioned 100,000,000 porcelain beads, each of which had then to be ‘hand-painted’ to represent a sunflower seed. ‘Picky’ might be the term for an artist such as Ai Weiwei, who leaves no detail too small, because everything must be just right, because after all, this is ‘Art’, this is ‘Culture’, and no expense must be spared! It is a pity that the Turbine Hall had been declared ‘off-limits’ to visitors’ feet within days of the exhibit opening in October, as there were fears that ‘ceramic dust’ created by enthusiastic visitors’ feet was a possible health hazard. Without going into too much detail about ceramic engineering and manufacture, I can state that the ‘Ceramic dust’ explanation was, quite simply ‘Bollocks’!

It now seems as though our Chinese artist had too been a little haphazard with his choice of ‘sunflower seed’ manufacturer, as the paint used for the “hand-painted” seeds was just a little heavy, heavy that is in the proportion of Lead used in the ‘careful’ decoration of those 100 million seeds!

Each imitation seed was sculpted and painted by specialists working in small-scale workshops in the Chinese city of Jingdezhen, we are told. Yep, and Blair never lied about IRAQ either!

I bet Will Gompertz is equally worried about the health hazards to all those Chinese ‘workers’ who allegedly individually made and ‘hand-painted’ those 100 million ceramic seeds.

X-posted from A Tangled Web