17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China

China Opposes Trade Protectionism under Pretext of Product Quality

Li Changjiang, director of China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, who is also a delegate to the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, answers questions of journalists from home and abroad in Beijing, capital of China on Oct. 17, 2007.(Xinhua Photo)

China's product quality inspection chief on Wednesday encouraged overseas manufacturers to organize toy imports from China as early as possible to make sure that kids in their countries could land nice and reasonably-priced toys for Christmas.

"China strongly opposes some countries using product quality as a pretense to practice trade protectionism," said Director Li Changjiang of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine. "This (trade protectionism) not only affects China but also benefits no other countries."

In an obvious allusion to the United States, Li said, "I heard the prices of Barbie Dolls in the American market would rise 10 percent. It would be the result of market force when demand beats supply. The restrictions on Chinese products are not conducive to both local market and people."

China, the world's largest toy manufacturer controlling nearly 60 percent of global toy trade, has come under spotlight amid a spate of export toy recalls, the recent one by the U.S. toy maker Mattel which this summer staged three separate recalls of China-made toys.

The company later vindicated the reputation of Chinese toy makers, admitting that 87 percent of the recalls were found to have loose magnets -- actually a design defect by Mattel itself, while only 13 percent contained excessive lead. Anyway, there remain questions over the quality of China-made toys.

The U.S. authorities once again recalled China-made key rings and toys alleged of containing excessive lead.

Li, a delegate to the ongoing 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, said that the recent product quality turbulence had once thrown Chinese toy makers into unfavorable conditions. To remove the worries from abroad, the administration had organized several factory tours for foreign media to south China's Guangdong Province.

In one company which employs about 40,000 people, Li said he was told the company's business was barely affected and orders were not dwindling. "That was an evidence of the credibility of Made-in-China, because a majority of China's toy exports are up-to-standard," he said.

This month, one deputy director of the administration would go to the United States to consult with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administration on a memorandum of understanding to expand cooperation on product safety.

Apart from calling for global cooperation, the Chinese government has staged a massive product quality check at home, revoking the export licenses of more than 100 companies.

In the latest efforts, more than 1,000 people from China's toy-making industry attended government-sponsored training courses in Guangdong from Oct. 12 to 14. Government officials and executives of transnational firms were invited to give lectures on toy certificate systems, and export test regulations and standards in China, the United States and Europe.

According to Li, China has planned to establish a comprehensive network to track the production of food and other products and remove quality loopholes from the very first link of design and the source of raw material supply.

Farm produce wholesale markets in large and medium-sized cities will be put under quality scrutiny while all food processing enterprises will be certified. Small food workshops will be required to sign a letter of commitment with the government to ensure product quality. Supermarkets and canteens above county level must only have business connections only with designated slaughterhouses.

Manufacturers of ten kinds of products ranging from household appliances, toys for kids, production protectives, automobile components, low-pressure electronics, steel products for construction, fasteners, cable and wire, and gas-fired utensils will be put in a special file for product quality, he said.




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