Senator urges Bush to halt some China imports

WASHINGTON Fri Aug 17, 2007 12:07pm EDT

1 of 2. 'Polly Pocket' merchandise sit on a shelf in a store in Arlington, Virginia, August 14, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Jim Young

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Sen. Christopher Dodd, a Democratic presidential candidate, urged President George W. Bush on Friday to suspend imports of food, toys and pet food from China after a spate of safety scares.

In a Democratic primary race that has featured calls to get tough on China over trade and food safety, Dodd is the first to call for imports to be halted.

"I strongly urge you to take immediate steps to temporarily halt these imports from China, in a manner that is consistent with our legal obligations under the World Trade Organization," the veteran Connecticut lawmaker said in a letter to Bush.

Recalls of Chinese goods ranging from toys decorated with lead paint to toothpaste and pet food have sparked "deep concern about the safety of food, toy and pet food products imported into the United States from China," said the letter, made available by Dodd's spokesman.

"Americans should not have to fear for their families' safety when using these products," wrote Dodd.

Dodd, one of eight candidates for the Democratic nomination for the 2008 presidential election, also faulted U.S. business's role in the China product scare, which he said made it "clear that the U.S. Government's current inspection system is simply inadequate."

He urged Bush to work with Congress to create a more effective system for inspecting imports.

In a debate before an organized labor audience on August 7 in Chicago, Dodd joined six other Democratic hopefuls in describing China variously as a leading competitor, an exporter of dangerous products and a potential future military adversary.