17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China
China Pledges High Quality Christmas Toys

At a press conference on October 17 Li Changjiang, a minister with General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (GAQSIQ) and delegate of the 17th National Congress of Communist Party of China (CPC), guaranteed the safety of Chinese-made toys in overseas Christmas markets. "With Christmas drawing near, Chinese manufacturers will guarantee that their export toys are safe for children all over the world," Li said. He promised that the Chinese quality watchdog would intensify their toy quality testing to ensure that toys meet quality standards in their targeted markets.

Li also urged importers to take responsibility to guarantee that the products they imported are safe. "Importers must provide quality standards for their Chinese partners. They should also conduct independent pre-tests, using a third-party laboratory before importing," the official said.

Regarding the frequent disputes on export food and product safety between China and the United States, Li said that the two sides are working actively to improve the scenario. "The China-US summits on food safety and consumer product safety held last month proved to be an important platform for the two parties to exchange information and work together to find a solution," Li stated. This month the two nations will hold further discussions regarding a proposed memorandum of understanding on bilateral food safety cooperation.

The minister pointed out that some international media has played up food and product quality issues recently. "We always identify quality problems with imported goods among ourselves. We recall them or destroy them," Li explained. "That's normal trade procedure. But some countries have brought too much attention to this matter; they've made a fuss about it." China opposes any act of using product quality as a pretense to practice trade protectionism, Li said. "It (trade protectionism) not only affects China but also benefits no other countries."

Li mentioned the US toy maker Mattel. This summer Mattel staged three separate recalls of China-made toys, but, as a responsible company, admitted that the vast majority of its recalled toys had American design flaws rather than Chinese manufacturing errors. Of the recalled toys, some did contain excessive lead content, he admitted. "Some Chinese toy makers haven't taken the necessary quality measures."

"Facts speak louder than words. Made-in-China products will surely regain trust from consumers," Li is confident. Mattel's frequent toy recalls have not affected China's toy production and exports at all, Li said. Production orders for Chinese toys are rising in number instead of falling. Many of Guangdong's larger toy factories now are asking their employees to work extra hours in order to meet the incredibly large demands, he revealed.

The minister said that every year 20 billion units of Chinese-made toys are exported to foreign markets and just a very tiny fraction are substandard. In response to the concern that prices of made-in-China goods may go up as the country strengthens supervision over product quality, Li countered and attributed it to market demand. "Prices of Barbie dolls reportedly will surge by 10 percent in the US but I think it's because supplies will fail to meet demand."

"Generally speaking, Chinese-made products are very safe", Li assured. He cited a report released by Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare about Japan's imported food. According to this governmental report, Chinese food has a very high acceptance rate, higher than the EU and US food products. The statistics included in the report show that 0.58 percent of Chinese food cannot meet Japan's standards whereas 1.1 percent of the US food are substandard. Li said that over 99 percent of the Chinese food imported to Japan, the US and the EU does meet the standards of the target markets.

Li said that the Chinese government has always attached great importance to product safety. The government has been implementing the uniform standards to scrutinize the products sold to foreign markets as well as the domestic buyers. In addition, various measures have been enacted to enhance product safety. Since late August more than 100 Chinese exporters have been disqualified by the government from the exporting business due to the poor quality of their products. The State Council recently issued special regulations on food safety supervision, stipulating that producers and responsible governmental departments shall strictly follow relevant regulations and rules to ensure product safety. Anyone who fails will be punishable by law. Additionally, Li said that the Chinese authorities would require every food exporter to be registered with appropriate governmental departments. They must also keep a record of all the animal and plant raising bases that export their products.

Li revealed that in the future China would set up two management and supervision chains, one aimed at food products and the other targeted at industrial products, in order to monitor quality by following their production from beginning to the end. China will establish another system that can trace back the production procedure of any product in order to identify responsible parties involved in quality control problems. It also plans to build up a network that allows society at large to supervise product quality. All these measures, combined together, will bring about profound changes, Li firmly believes.




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