Vice Premier Wu Yi on Friday asked the country's quality watchdogs to beef up quality checks of food and toy exports ahead of the coming Christmas and New Year holidays.
"We must let no substandard products be exported (for the holiday season)," Wu said while addressing a work conference for the country's four-month-long nationwide product quality campaign launched in August.
"It's a good opportunity for us to re-establish the positive image of Chinese products by providing safe holiday goods for overseas customers," Wu told the conference in Guangzhou, the country's manufacturing hub.
Wu also asked the country's customs offices and quality and quarantine watchdogs to establish a network for information check-up by the end of the year in a bid to avoid the evasion of quality checks.
Chinese industries have been battered by a raft of reports detailing substandard products ranging from drugs to toys.
In the wake of product safety scandals, the Chinese government responded by introducing a new recall system this summer, embarking on the four-month nationwide product quality campaign and offered intensive training courses to domestic toy manufacturers.
Chinese exporters have learned a lesson from the toy recall crisis."Monitoring has been intensified to cover the entire process of production, including product design, raw materials and paint," according to Wu.
Poisonous paint was one of the major complaints in a spate of toy recall dramas in the past few months, which the domestic toy-making industry rejected as individual but not common cases.
It's the third time Wu Yi has headed a product quality inspection group in the past three months. The previous two examined food factories, restaurants and farm produce bases in Zhejiang, Shanghai and Shandong.
"The product safety campaign has been very successful so far, and we have made major breakthroughs in supervision over small food producers and children's toy makers," Wu said.
About 499 tons of highly poisonous pesticide such as methamidophos had been seized in a crackdown on the use of banned drugs in farm produce and feedstuffs in the past three months, said Li Changjiang, director of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (GAQSIQ), who was also at the conference.
Wholesale markets of farm produce in 676 large and medium-sized cities have been put under the monitoring of relevant authorities, Li said.
Li also revealed that 96.3 percent of the country's food producers had been licensed, while 98.7 percent of the small food workshops, considered a major threat to public food safety, had pledged product safety in written documents.
"We have also checked all the production bases of raw materials for food exports, and all the shipping packages of exported food have been imprinted with the quarantine and quality check marks," Li said.
Shao Mingli, head of the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA), said the administration has taken back 157 Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certificates and shut down nearly 300 drug producers and medical appliance manufacturers.
It has also established a network of drug supply to cover more than 90 percent of the rural areas, Shao said.
A total of 626 criminal cases involving the production or sale of substandard food, drugs and farm produce were filed during the campaign, with 774 suspects brought under control, according to the State Council.
"We should continue to aim for the set-up of a long-term mechanism to consolidate what we have achieved in the campaign to further improve the country's product quality," Li said.
At the end of last month, China's cabinet approved, in principle, a draft law on food safety to address the "weak points" in food production, processing, delivery, storage and sales.
After calling for strengthened supervision over drug production and sales as well as export products, Wu also called for increased efforts to work out product standards in accordance with international practices.
"We need to achieve the full success of the campaign," Wu emphasized.
The country is expected to review the achievements of the four-month campaign in late December or early in January, according to Li.
In the past two days, inspectors fanned out to 11 Guangdong cities to check 18 drug and medical apparatus producers, 12 drug wholesalers and retailers, 13 export companies, 37 food and other daily consumer goods suppliers as well as nine local quality watchdogs and their testing institutions.
Wu herself inspected a toy factory, a drug producer and an aquatic product company in Guangdong, a province responsible for one third of the country's total import and export.
"The provincial government will hold the manager of a company as the first person accountable in the event of any quality crisis and dispatched special supervisors to most of its pharmaceutical factories," Wu said after her inspection tour in Guangdong.
She also called for the promotion of good practices for product quality control, such as the computerized monitoring network adopted by Guangdong Province, which currently covers 6,500 manufacturers.
"The network has not only enabled the authorities to carry out real-time checks, but also allowed consumers to go online to check product information," said Wu.
(Xinhua News Agency December 1, 2007)