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China Reassures Foreign Media Toy Quality with Factory Tour
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Amid agonies by a string of safety issues with its exported products and food, China opened on Tuesday a toy testing lab and three toy factories to a group of domestic and foreign reporters to put off the concerns.


The Jetta (China) Industry Co. Ltd, the largest toy manufacturer the media group visited in the one-day tour with more than 10,000 employees, showed to reporters how it tested toys.


"A doll is normally tested for 10,000 times whether it can smile and cry as designed, and we have an employee specially in charge of testing this function," introduced a staff member from Jetta.


Details like the doll's laughing and crying time were recorded each time it was tested. Other than that, the company also perfected its quality control system with the tests on raw materials, examination of designs and monitoring of the production process.


Jetta exported 3,232 batches of toys worth more than 42 million U.S. dollars in the first seven months of this year mainly to the United States and European Union, with 70 percent flowing to the former.


All located in south China's Guangdong Province, which produces 70 percent of China's exported toys, Jetta and the other two toy factories seemed to have impressed the reporters in a positive way.


"The tour really offered us a good opportunity. The factories we visited today were very strict with the quality of their products and the toys were good," said Jumpei Yoshioka, a reporter from Japan's NHK TV station.


First time in such a trip in China, Yoshioka hoped that he could go to more factories to get a deeper and wider knowledge of the country's toy-making industry, which was just lashed by a toy recall crisis.


"I want to find out whether other factories have quality problems or are as good as these ones," he said.


In July, U.S. RC2 Corp. and Consumer Product Safety Commission filed a recall case involving toy trains made by a Guangdong-based company which used paint containing lead poisonous to children.


On Aug. 2, another U.S. toy company, Fisher-Price, also recalled more than one million character toys with unqualified paint. The producer's paint provider made the paint with fake materials.


Some small factories do have quality problems, often caused by incaution when buying raw materials like paint, fill-in cotton and leather, said Wang Xin, an official with the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) who accompanied the media group.


"We will tighten supervision over these factories and punish those discredited ones heavily," Wang said.


But mostly, the problems are caused by foreign brand owners' improper designs or inconsistent testing standards among different countries, he noted, adding that importers should share the responsibilities in case of false designing.


TS Wong, board chairman of Jetta, pointed out that the recall issues were just individual cases about individual companies.


China's whole toy industry is healthy and quality-guaranteed, and our exports won't be affected, except that the recall cases will prompt us to further improve the quality control system, Wong said.


Cen Jianming, a staff member from Jetta, told the reporters that the factory had a sophisticated screening process to ensure the safety of its raw materials.


"After the paint is bought, it will be isolated in a special room and spot checked with the standards of importing countries. If it's unqualified, we will return the whole batch to the supplier," Cen said.


With a variety of products from motor-driven toys to fluffy dolls, Jetta has an entire professional team checking hidden defects.


"As what we have seen from the three factories, Chinese enterprises do care about their product qualities and have strict quality control systems," said Pascal Golomer, chief reporter from France 2 TV station.


The media tour, co-organized by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine and State Council Information Office, was the third of its kind in the past three months after China was besieged by frequent product safety scares.     


The scares ranged from pet food to drugs, toothpastes, aquatic products, toys and tyres.


The Chinese government has taken a series of measures to improve product quality, including landmark recall systems for unsafe food products and toys and a four-month nationwide campaign to improve product quality initiated late in August.


(Xinhua News Agency September 5, 2007)


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