BEIJING—In an attempt to assure the world's children that the millions of Chinese-made toys currently being recalled for containing toxic lead paint and tiny choking hazards can no longer hurt them, high-level Chinese officials announced Tuesday that millions of playthings are being rounded up and immediately put to death.
"We are committed to the well-being of children and putting the consumer's mind at ease," said Chinese president Hu Jintao at a press conference. "Boys and girls of the world, you need not worry. Your toys will be executed swiftly and harshly. When we are through, there will be nothing left to play with."
In the past six weeks, Mattel Inc. has recalled more than 20 million toys from China that are believed to contain lead paint and other safety defects, a situation that prompted the Chinese government to send People's Liberation Army forces into major industrial sectors to mercilessly slaughter any remaining items that have not been exported for sale overseas. So far, an estimated 9 to 10 million toys, from anonymous dolls and miniature cars to trademarked characters such as Thomas the Tank Engine, Curious George, and Big Bird have been reportedly kicked, smashed with rifles, shocked with electric batons, hanged, and pounded with nails, before having their ears severed and eyes gouged out, and then being shot.
"Believe me when I say you can sleep peacefully tonight," said Hu, who reportedly gave troops direct orders to force thousands upon thousands of Polly Pocket dolls to their knees, point assault rifles at the backs of their heads, and blow their toxin-filled skulls to bits. "We wish to reassure the world that we are taking care of this problem. We shall serve the young people."
Chinese toy manufacturers are reportedly complying with the government's wishes. According to the Xinhua News Agency, in the past three days alone, factory owners roused an estimated 365,000 Barbie dolls from their dream homes in a violent series of raids. During these raids, the Barbies were separated from their Kens, were stripped naked, and had their heads shaved. They were then taken to an undisclosed area, leaned against a wall because they were incapable of standing under their own power, and shot by a firing squad as toy soldiers were forced to watch.
"We are assisting the authorities in destroying toys," said Chen Hai, a senior manager at Joy Sing Industrial Plastics Co., a supplier contracted by several major American toy companies. "This is not all talk. We invite any concerned American parents to come here and tour our toy torture chambers to see the toys' agony for themselves."
Chen added that, as a precaution, the factory also executed 5,000 workers.
A toy-abuse-monitoring group, the Association for the Advancement of Plastic People (AAPP), said it has gathered evidence suggesting that the Chinese government has also detained an additional 20 million toys for questioning. According to the group, even toys that contained only trace levels of lead paint were loaded onto trains bound for detention centers in remote provinces of Western China, where they were allegedly deprived of sleep, burned with cigarettes, and subjected to traditional Chinese water torture.
The AAPP also released video smuggled from an unidentified detention center showing Chinese intelligence officers attempting to extract information on the whereabouts of suspected lead-tainted toys from a Little Mommy Real Loving Baby Doll, despite the fact that she was capable only of asking for her bottle and playing peek-a-boo. The gruesome footage shows the doll's eyes being forcibly taped open and her lack of genitals being melted with a soldering iron.
News of the crackdown is being received favorably by parents' organizations in the U.S.
"We're pleased the Chinese government is taking such an active and serious approach to the safety of toys," said Annelise Bow, director of the Brooklyn, NY-based organization Our Children Come First. "We hope that in the future any potential uprisings among dangerous playthings coming out of China will be crushed before they can spread to our toyboxes."
Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai said he hoped the mass toy-purges would "send a strong message to our enemies who threaten to harm us with their dangerous chemical compounds."
"Only by flaying Elmo's lethal skin, and wrenching Dora the Explorer's deadly limbs from her sockets and publicly displaying her body parts can we effectively warn toys never to jeopardize the livelihood of the people," Bo said.
Government officials, however, still refused to confirm the whereabouts of Thomas the Tank Engine, rumored to have been splintered into pieces by attack dogs in Manchuria. Nor would it address allegations that hundreds of toy steam shovels in Guangdong Province were forced to dig their own graves before they were executed.