Here's the retort from the article linked above, unfortunately for the company based in Tianjin (which has Knaupf in the title, but I guess we won't blame certain countries located in Europe who seem to be operating in China under the relaxed regulations...I wonder if that figures in the profit margin at all...yes, I am laying it on pretty thick here), this retort comes after several paragraphs of product bashing and complaints from Americans in the Southeast U.S.:
Dr. Phillip Goad, a toxicologist hired by Knaupf Plasterboard Tianjin, sampled drywall from 25 homes, some that contained the company's wallboard and some that did not.
"The studies we have performed to date have identified very low levels of naturally occurring compounds," Goad said. "The levels we have detected do not present a public health concern. The chemicals are naturally occurring. They're produced in ocean water, in salt marsh air, in estuaries."I want to make two points on China's soft power here:
First, this is an excellent example of how China is actually where U.S. and other "developed" countries were during their phases of rapid industrialization - in both cases the countries grew bigger than their breeches. One can look up many an article/book by the likes of Upton Sinclair, Jacob Riis, Ida Tarbell, and Ray Stannard Baker to see this point. So, long-term, they'll be fine as the pressures increase due to the soft power goals - they can also turn this into a positive domestically by citing it as an instance of outsiders trying to degrade and berate China - push them to greater regulation as they become weary of these instances.
Second, there are many countries where the external efforts of China's soft power strategy have back-fired significantly. In Africa, for instance, there are instances where governments have signed deals with the Chinese government for loans and other assistance to expand information communication technologies, build roads and other infrastructure, and even to build soccer stadiums and other higher profile building projects. This often plays out in the press coverage as China making in-roads that are under-cutting the U.S. and other power players. On the flip side, though, I would venture for discussion that the domestic reception of China is not very positive in many of these places. In Sierra Leone, the Chinese employers are widely criticized for poor treatment of local employees. Further, there are several shady aspects to many deals that give Chinese interests advantages in the local economy that are not mutually beneficial at face value or after digging through the weeds of some of the deals.
In sum, China is where the U.S. used to be in many ways and has a lot of promise for being a major power on the international stage. I would caution, though, that the Chinese, for better or for worse, are not taking many lessons learned from how the U.S. arrived where it is today to avoid ending up in many of the same predicaments. I predict a significant say-do gap for China (already there in many ways) and an immense set of population pressures that the U.S. does not have to deal with. China is rising, but it will have a longer way to fall when it trips up. Speculating, just speculating.