53rd American Council on Consumer Interests (ACCI) Conference: Consumer Movements across the Pacific 20 April 2007

Article excerpt

1. It is indeed my greatest honor to receive the Rhoda Karpatkin Award in recognition of my humble contributions to the consumer movement internationally and especially in assisting the consumer movement in China. Asian culture believes in karma, which means "deed" or "act", and more broadly, the universal principle of cause and effect. (1.) There cannot be a better example of karma in my receiving this distinguished Award named after Rhoda, my dearest mentor and good friend. It was Rhoda who had encouraged me to help the consumer movement in China when it was in its infancy twenty more years ago. My rewards for heeding Rhoda's advice are to witness the exponential growth of the consumer movement in China and, of course, this honor of being betowed the Rhoda Karpatkin Award.

2. Most important of all, I must thank ACCI for giving me this Award and inviting me here so I may have such a superb opportunity in meeting so many consumer advocates and activists at this important ACCI conference.

3. Geologists believe that North America and Asia were connected through Alaska thousands of years ago. That is the reason why authentic Alaskans have oriental features similar to that of the Chinese. Anyhow, North America and China are separated by the Pacific Ocean. Though an ocean apart, I must say we share a common vision and objective--the enhancement of consumer interest for all.

4. First of all let me remind you of some facts about the United States and China.

The United States

5. With over 9.6 million [km.sup.2] and over 300 million (0.3 billion) people, the United States is the third or fourth largest country by area and the third largest by population. With a gross domestic product (GDP) of over $13 trillion, the U.S. has the largest national economy in the world. (2) GDP per capita ranks first among the larger economies of the world.

The People's Republic of China

6. China has an area of 9.6 million [km.sup.2], about the same size of the US. East to west measures about 5,000 kilometers, from the Heilong Jiang (Amur River) to Pamir Mountains in Central Asia; north to south measure approximately 4,050 kilometers, from Heilongjiang Province to Hainan Island in the south, and another 1,450 kilometers further south to Zengmu Shoal, China's territorial claim to the north coast of Malaysia.

7. Yet China is the most populous nation in the world. With a population of 1.3 billion (3), or one-fifth of that of the world, China has nearly five times as many people as the United States (4).

Consumer Rights

8. The most influential and widely quoted statement on consumer rights is from President Kennedy back in 1968. He highlighted the consumers':

* Right to Safety

* Right to Information

* Right to Choose, and

* Right to be Heard

9. Consumer International has spelt out 8 basic consumer rights which include:

* Right to satisfaction of basic needs

* Right to Information

* Right to Choose

* Right to Safety

* Right to Representation

* Right to Redress

* Right to Consumer Education

* Right to a Healthy Environment


10. China's Consumer Protection Law as they stand today enshrine 9 consumer rights. They are:

* Right to Information--to receive correct information on the commodities & services

* Right to Choose

* Right to Safety--consumers are entitled to personal safety and safety of their property

* Right of Fair Trade--quality assurance, reasonable price and right to reject coercive behavior

* Right to receive compensation

* Right to obtain knowledge related to consumption and to the protection of their rights and interests (consumer education)

* Right to form social groups in accordance with the law to safeguard their legitimate rights and interests

* Right to demand respect of their personal dignity and national customs and habits (this reflects the multi-ethnic composition of China. …