Most of the made-in-China products are absolutely safe, and the steady increase in exports despite the recent widespread criticism reflects their safety standards, a Ministry of Commerce official said yesterday.
China's exports rose 27.5 percent in the first half of the year to US$546.7 billion, said Vice-Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng.
The export of some products including food, drugs and toys, which have been criticized for their standards, have increased, too. The export of food products was up 22.2 percent, drugs 41 percent and toys 27.7 percent, according to Ministry of Commerce figures.
The increase shows "the majority of importers, retailers and consumers (across the world) are reasonable," Gao said. The "problem products" comprise a miniscule percentage of the overall exports from China.
For instance, toothpaste accounted for just US$80 million of the total export of US$970 billion in 2006. In fact, the value of the toothpaste brand, allegedly containing diethylene glycolis, exported to the US was only US$3.3 million.
Hence, doubting the quality of all made-in-China products is not a "scientific" way of looking at things, said Gao, citing a figure released by Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare that showed 99.42 percent of food products from China to Japan were safe, compared to the 98.69 percent of those from the US and 99.38 percent from the European Union.
The quality of Chinese products has improved greatly in recent years, he said. For instance, about 94 percent of the vegetables grown in the country passed the pesticide residue tests in the first half of 2007, 12 percentage points more than in 2003.
Gao gave an assurance that the overall quality of exports is safe, and reminded domestic enterprises that improving the quality further is the only way of winning over the international market.
The problems relating to product quality and food safety are hard to avoid totally because some enterprises are not aware of their social responsibility, Gao said. The problem of product safety is much of their doing.
Government bodies are trying to minimize the effect of negative reports, and 429 enterprises have already been punished. Some other companies have been told to stop exporting their products.
Gao called for international cooperation to deal with food safety problems. "Rebuking each other is not going to solve the problem. Strengthening international cooperation is the only effective way to solve the problem."
The Ministry of Commerce suggested cooperation with APEC members as early as in 2005, and helped set up the APEC food safety cooperation forum with Australia in 2006.
Gao suggested improving legal and law enforcement through international cooperation, as well as setting up of an emergency system to deal with quality problems.
(China Daily August 3, 2007)