WASHINGTON - Most Americans say the United States itself bears at least some blame for the rash of unsafe products from China, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll released yesterday.
With the tally of Chinese goods bearing high levels of chemicals and toxins growing almost daily, people surveyed reserved the bulk of their ire for Chinese companies. Nearly two-thirds, or 64 percent, said Chinese firms making the tainted products deserve a lot of the responsibility - more than anyone else.
Even so, by a broader measure there was widespread consensus that plenty of blame can be spread on both sides of the Pacific. Eighty-four percent said Chinese manufacturers and the US businesses that sell Chinese products deserve some or a lot of culpability.
In addition, while 79 percent said the Chinese government bears at least some fault, a similar 75 percent said the same about the US government. And 71 percent said US consumers insisting on low-cost goods have at least some responsibility as well.
"If we find something for $1 instead of $1.10, it's like a herd instinct; we'll all trot over there," said Carol Mason, 59, a retiree in Butler, Ala. "Well, the lowest price is not always the best if you want a quality product."
Almost two-thirds, or 65 percent, said the US government is not doing enough to ensure Chinese imports are safe. That criticism was voiced by majorities from all regions and segments of the population, though women and Democrats were more likely to feel that way.
"It's their job to check these things," Sean Overland, a 34-year-old trial consultant in Los Angeles, said of federal inspection efforts. Still, he said, "It's impossible for them to screen every single thing that comes into the country."
The strong sense that some blame must be assigned to US companies, consumers, and the government cut a fairly even swath across most lines of income, age, race, region, and education.