As we stumble flat-footed but indisputably well-endowed into 2008, China tries frantically to get Beijing ready for the 2008 Olympic Games. It is by now becoming apparent that it has a mighty long way to go before it can face up to the ongoing criticism of the West and make a dent in its massive pollution problem. A lot has been written already about the country’s choking air quality, eclipsing, perhaps, some less obvious concerns.

A Barrel of Waste

Here at Cow Central, we have it on good authority that the Chinese Government has taken cunning measures to deal with other kinds of contamination, and our TCA Special Correspondent, operating deep behind enemy lines, wandering around the shops at Christmas, has uncovered a fiendish Chinese scheme to offload solid toxic waste onto an unsuspecting West; worse than that, even: a Machiavellian plot to deliver their atramentous filth into the hands of innocent children!

Allow me to elaborate. Inevitably, at this time of year, a shopper finds him/herself dawdling into the precincts of the now-ubiquitous ‘Two Dollar Shop’.* All manner of zany gadgets and trinkets seem to find their way into these places, and a Christmas visit here is almost mandatory for the acquisition of that kooky little ‘something’ to give to the special someone in your life.

This year, TCA’s Man On The Street brought our attention to the Two Dollar Shop item (masquerading as a ‘toy’) pictured above: a small plastic drum with the word ‘Caution’ stencilled on it. Or, more accurately, a whole box full of the damn things! A check at ‘Price World’ in my own neck of the woods uncovers a similar trove. Given the pervasive nature of the Two Dollar Shop, we may conclude that there are hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of these little black barrels arriving on our shores every week! There is no doubt at all where they originate:

Made in China

The fiends are so brazen that they don’t make even the slightest attempt to cover their tracks! Now, as I cautiously open the lid and allow you to examine the contents, I will understand completely if you tremble with fear as the full understanding of this dastardly plot dawns upon you!


Yes, my friends, not only are they very effectively getting rid of their foul effluvium, but they’ve concocted a racket where we actually buy it from them! And then pass it on to our kids, in the guise of a carefree play item, so that they may absorb it through their skin, thereby creating a new generation of hideous yet feeble mutants addicted to glitzy flashing lights and the smell of rarified hydrocarbons…

Sure, China gives the appearance of a massively uncoordinated country bravely attempting to shake off the stigma of the Third World and march proudly into a Shiny Capitalist Future, but I say BEWARE! Remember these people invented the word inscrutable!†

Today the Olympic Games, tomorrow The World!

(If I mysteriously disappear anytime soon, I ask only that name be recorded on a monument on Manhattan Island in the future world capital New Shanghai, along with the words ‘I told you so’).


*I am speculating that there is an equivalent to this phenomenon in other countries; pokey little shops packed densely with shelving that offers all manner of cheap, usually Chinese-made, junk. In Australia, the shops go by such monikers as ‘Buy Rite’, ‘Price World’, ‘Bargain Zone’ or ‘Reject Shop’ but are universally known here as ‘Two Dollar Shops’. I actually really love the Two Dollar Shops because they are a reminder of the kind of corner-store I grew up with as a kid. I am fully aware that their cheap flashy plastic gew-gaws probably represent the exploitation of poor Chinese peasants and the plundering of fragile ecosystems.

†Well, OK, it’s an English word so they probably didn’t invent it. But I bet they have a Chinese word that means pretty much the same thing. And I bet they use it often, followed by a sinister laugh.