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Envoys get insight into safety system
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Foreign diplomats were given a tour of Shenzhen's port and a selection of local toy and garment factories yesterday to witness stringent safety and security measures in operation.


The diplomats were shown quarantine inspectors opening export containers to inspect goods and then laboratories conducting quality tests on toys.


The tour at the booming southern city of Shenzhen in Guangdong, attracted 22 diplomats from the European Commission and 14 countries, including the United States, Canada, Germany, Australia, Argentina, New Zealand and South Korea.


The diplomats were also shown officers conducting on-the-spot inspections of import/export products such as canned fruit, frozen meat, Christmas lights, furniture and flower seeds, at the Yantian Port, the country's largest container facility.


Officers opened each container and randomly took out samples to check their batch number, product category, and required certificates. Each inspection took about 15 minutes.


Qu Haifeng, deputy director of the Shenzhen entry-exit inspection and quarantine bureau, said it was mandatory that every food shipment abroad must go through such an inspection. For other products that do not directly affect human health, random checks are conducted.


At China Silk Enterprise Ltd, which makes clothes for international brands such as Hugo Boss and Calvin Klein, and Early Light International Ltd, the world's largest original equipment manufacturer of toys, diplomats showed keen interest in the rigorous quality control and tests conducted in the laboratories of the companies.


"I'm very impressed by the quality and high technology involved in the production of the toys," Bart Pennewaert, first secretary at the Belgian Embassy in China, said.


Referring to recent reports of unsafe Chinese products, Pennewaert said it was easy to be "negatively effected as a manufacturing country", but what he saw made him confident of Chinese-made products.


The Made in China label has suffered much damage since March when contaminated additives from the country tainted pet food in North America.


The recent three recalls of Chinese-made toys by Mattel, the world's largest toy-maker, have also caused concern ahead of the Christmas shopping period.


Guangdong has been most affected by the toy recall controversy.


It is home to 5,000 toy-making companies, and accounted for about 80 percent of the country's toy exports last year.


"That's why we have invited the diplomats here," Wei Chuanzhong, vice-minister of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, said.


He said the tour offers diplomats a true picture of Chinese manufacturing and government supervision. It could be a regular event in the future.


William Westman, agricultural counselor at the US Embassy, said the tour was a valuable opportunity to know more about Chinese manufacturing.


"I believe such an exchange is necessary. It's been a nice, interesting tour," he said.


Many diplomats expressed their confidence in Chinese products and spoke highly of the recent moves taken by the government to improve quality.


"I've never had a problem with the Made in China label," Les Kumor, a counselor at the Canadian Embassy, said.


"China views the issue very seriously and has been working quite aggressively to improve it. You're definitely moving in the right direction."


Maria Isabel Rendon, minister counselor at the Argentina Embassy, said the recent negative reports had not affected confidence in Chinese products in her country.


She said it was common for problems to emerge from time to time.


"But the most important thing is that you're trying to improve it," She said.


(China Daily September 26, 2007)


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