Tags: China | Laments | 'Cold | Wind' | Quality | Problems

China Laments 'Cold Wind' of Quality Problems

Sunday, 19 August 2007 12:00 AM

BEIJING -- Politically motivated, unfair, biased and poisoned by jealousy -- China's quality watchdog chief gave his verdict on Sunday on the storm surrounding the quality of Chinese goods, describing it as a "cold wind."

Li Changjiang told a carefully choreographed talk show on state television that his department was doing everything possible to check quality and probe substandard goods, especially following the recent huge toy recall by Mattel.

"I'm here to tell you: have faith in made-in-China," Li told a selected group of foreign and Chinese executives and journalists.

"Children are our future. So their health and safety is very important," added Li, the man leading the counter-offensive to convince the world that Chinese goods are safe.

"We have three million people working hard, making toys to make children around the world happy."

The Mattel recall affected Big Bird, Elmo and millions of other toys with safety risks associated with magnets and lead paint.

The show's host, Chen Weihong, held up a small plastic toy, which was part of the recall, and asked the audience to guess which part contained too much lead.

Eyes? No. Tail? Not that either. Legs? Way out. The answer -- the eyebrows, only visible if you looked up close.

"There is no danger. You can hold it with no problem," Li told Chen when he asked him if it was safe to hold. "The U.S. has told us that there have been no cases of children being harmed."

"NEW KIND OF PROTECTIONISM"

Next appeared a wooden toy train set, complete with engines and signals. In fact, the only part with too much lead in it -- the reason it was recalled -- was a small bright red stop sign.

"Children won't eat this sign, or smell it every day. The effect is very limited," Li said.

"It's exaggerated. In the first example it was the eyebrows which exceeded standards. And in this whole set, it's only the stop sign. It's not fair to say China's products are not up to scratch. Not fair at all," he added.

"Why was the recall so large? Because they couldn't judge exactly which toys had too much lead in them," Li said. "There's no way to distinguish, so they all had to be recalled."

"More than 99 percent of our goods meet standards," he added. "Demonising Chinese products, or talking of the Chinese product threat, I think is simply a new kind of trade protectionism."

Li said that, curiously, it has only been in the last few months that the made-in-China stamp has attracted such suspicion.

"Over the last few years, more than 90 percent of our exports have been up to standard. It was the same in 2004, in 2005, in 2006 and in the first half of this year. Why have the problems only come to light now? It's very worrying," he said.

"It's not a severe winter, but there is a cold wind blowing," Li said. "This cold wind has been a big trial for the industry ... But I think most of our companies can endure this test. Why do I say this? Because our exports keep going up."

But companies would have to face anti-China bias and even jealousy of the country's growing trade power in the form of increasing complaints about quality, he said.

"As globalisation progresses, Chinese products have more and more of the world market, causing other countries to take note."

"Some groups, such as certain officials, still have some prejudices. In the future, when they see up-to-standard Chinese goods in their homes, and that they are very convenient, and that their families are very happy, they'll change their opinions."

© reuters 2007. All Rights Reserved.

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BEIJING -- Politically motivated, unfair, biased and poisoned by jealousy -- China's quality watchdog chief gave his verdict on Sunday on the storm surrounding the quality of Chinese goods, describing it as a "cold wind." Li Changjiang told a carefully choreographed talk...
China,Laments,'Cold,Wind',Quality,Problems
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2007-00-19
Sunday, 19 August 2007 12:00 AM
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