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Foreign consumers' concern over safety problems with some Chinese exports is as valid as domestic consumers' growing worry about product safety.

It should be a cause for China's quality watchdog to further tighten inspection. But it should not be an excuse for foreign protectionists to sell their trade-distorting arguments.

As a rising global manufacturing base, China is providing a growing number of quality products at low prices to consumers at home and abroad.

However, some Chinese exports to the United States were recently found to have safety problems.

Given the potential dangers, efforts to alert consumers to unsafe products and tightened inspection are definitely needed.

Yet, using the safety issue against all Chinese exports is neither reassuring nor productive.

Though some specific Chinese exports were found to have safety problems, more than 99 percent of food exports to the US in the last three years met quality standards.

It makes little sense to regard some individual exporters' problems as a national one. Any bias against products with a "made-in-China" tag does injustice to Chinese exports' overall good quality.

Admittedly, China has been hit by food safety scares during its rapid development. But the government has paid great attention to the issue of safety, especially regarding food products in recent years.

Thanks to stricter supervision, China has seen steady improvement in food products.

According to the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, the country's records show that food product safety has been steadily improving since 1998. In fact, the proportion of food products tested as qualified in the first half of this year was the highest in recent years.

At the same time, the country is also working to introduce more stringent food safety standards while strengthening enforcement.

The recent reports of substandard Chinese-made consumer products add to the urgency for Chinese policymakers to increase these efforts.

Nevertheless, the cry for protectionism against Chinese exports by some Americans will not benefit US consumers. It will disturb the international cooperation that China is seeking as part of improving product safety.

(China Daily July 5, 2007)

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