China's first statute on the recall of defective cars is expected to be released in three months, a top quality control official revealed on the eve of World Consumer Rights Day in Beijing.
The long-awaited regulation is expected to enable Chinese consumers to have their faulty cars fixed, especially in cases involving foreign automakers excluding China when recalling defective products from overseas markets.
The move will also pave the way for China to instate a recall system for other products that have defects endangering the safety of people and property, said Yu Xianzhong, a division director of the State General Administration for Quality Supervision and Inspection and Quarantine.
"After extensive preparations -- including investigations and workshops in China and abroad, online and offline, over the past 18 months, we think the time is ripe for us to enact a recall regime for defective cars," said Yu, director-general of the agency's Quality Management Department.
The country's increasing integration with the global market, plus its grim safety record, has partly prompted the drafting of the recall rules, Yu said.
Up to 10 per cent of China's traffic accidents -- which claimed 109,000 lives last year -- are caused by mechanical problems relating to vehicles, though the exact proportion of mishaps resulting from defects in auto design and production is not yet available.
The situation is coupled with mounting consumer complaints, who allege that some global automobile giants do not treat Chinese users in the same fashion they do car owners in foreign countries, where they have issued recalls for defective cars, Yu said.
By working and carrying out rules on the recall of defective automobiles, the State quality watchdog hopes to provide a legal recourse to better protect public health and well-being, while also pushing car makers to improve management and quality control, Yu said.
The official said many Chinese consumers have yet to be better informed of what a product recall is.
A recall is a process by which customers are notified about products that are potentially dangerous and the process by which the seller corrects the problem. It does not necessarily mean that a product is to be returned, Yu said.
A dozen domestic auto-makers, including China FAW Group and Shanghai Volkswagen, have offered feedback on the pending recall regulations, Yu said.
They have said the establishment of special authoritative third-party inspection agencies is key to the implementation of the rules.
Following the rules on the recall of defective cars, Yu said his agency plans to extend the recall system to more products, including notebook computers and household electronic appliances, that present a risk of injury or are otherwise defective.
(China Daily March 16, 2003)