By Omar Elmershedi - Saudi Gazette - JEDDAH - Various groups in the Kingdom have intensified their campaign to boycott Russian and Chinese products after the two countries vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime in Syria.
Launched soon after King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, pronounced this week that the world confidence in the UN as a conflict-resolving institution was completely shaken, the campaign initiated by over 30 groups has gathered pace.
The groups leading the boycott campaign are composed of teachers, students, housewives and professionals from almost all walks of life.
Five students and a mother, members of one of the groups, Sunday began a Jeddah-wide campaign to boycott Chinese and Russian products.
Sami Qudus, his sister Alia, and their mother Aysha Qurban, Hamdan Al-Osaimi, Fahad Al-Rougie and Abdul-Rahaman Al-Nafaie told the Saudi Gazette that they have begun a school-to-school and an SMS campaign to gather support for a nationwide effort to boycott Chinese and Russian products.
Talking about the campaign, Aysha Qurban said: “For us this is no less important than the campaign we initiated against Danish products when a newspaper from that country published cartoons defaming Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). We are talking here about innocent blood being shed 24/7 for a year now (in Syria). This has to end! We are not politicians, we are Muslims.”
The group views its efforts as more than a civic duty. So far it has contacted more than 400 people and the response has been overwhelming. “In my school, when some girls found that some pencils they were using were made in China, they threw them in the trash bins. I placed five calls to distributors of school supplies telling them we are not buying from them if we find Chinese or Russian products in their stores. This is going to be massive…not only are we not buying Chinese products, we are boycotting the outlets (selling the products) as well.”
Al-Nafaie and Al-Rougie beat a different drum. “Chinese products are not the best quality-wise. During the last two years, the Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization (SASO) has warned against more than 15 Chinese products such as toys and cosmetics that are not safe. Barely a month goes by without an injury resulting from some kind of Chinese product. Our merchants are responsible for the low-quality stuff the Chinese dump into our markets,” said Al-Nafaie armed with a pile of leaflets concerning the safety of Chinese products issued by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Recent data from the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (47th annual report;1432H/2011) shows trade with China has reached about four billion Saudi riyals and more than half a billion riyals with Russia.
Meanwhile, Saudi oil sales to China surged above a million barrels a day last year, nearly doubling from the previous year. The Kingdom now accounts for a quarter of Chinese oil imports. Saudi Aramco recently inaugurated a huge refinery in the Fujian province, on the southeast coast of China, which is projected to receive 200,000 barrels a day of Saudi crude, and is looking at a second project in the northeast city of Qingdao.