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China Enhances Quality Supervision
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China has made significant achievements in quality supervision, quarantine and inspection of export and import goods during 2005.

"We have taken solid and giant steps in this area during the past year, accomplishing good results," said Li Changjiang, minister of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ).

China's import and export trade witnessed strong growth last year.

Given tougher trade barriers, pandemic threats and other newly emerging factors, China strengthened every aspect of quality supervision, quarantine and inspection of export and import goods last year, Li said.

Incidents of bird flu, Sudan Red I dye, red fire ants, mineral green, formaldehyde beer, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) film and pickles from the Republic of Korea (ROK) happened last year.

"We attach great importance to the handling of these incidents." Li said.

"The AQSIQ adopts a fast response mechanism, exploring the origins, analyzing the impact and grasping the development trend timely and effectively," he said.

For example, after the Sudan Red I dye incident, supervision was tightened significantly.

After media reported that formaldehyde content in beer may substantially exceed the national quality standard, the AQSIQ inspected 19 domestic beer producers and their 20 products as well as 21 products from 10 foreign countries last year.

The AQSIQ soon clarified that media hadn't fully understood the production process of beer, especially the technology upgrades in China.

Consequently, adverse impact was quickly reduced.

"Actively and constantly improving quality supervision and quarantine is key to our work," Li noted.

After the outbreak of pig-borne disease in Southwest China's Sichuan Province in summer last year, the AQSIQ launched massive campaigns to investigate and supervise farms nationwide.

When mineral green was found in eel breeding ponds, the AQSIQ carried out rapid investigation and supervision of eel breeding ponds, effectively controlling damage.

"We have also enhanced training in quarantine technology, aiming to upgrade our information accordingly," Li said, "The finding of the red fire ants is a case in point."

Red fire ants were found 11 times in goods imported from European countries.

"Active negotiation is also a major factor in solving quality problems," the minister emphasized.

When China discovered pickles from ROK contained lice eggs and heavy metal exceeding the nation's quality standards, the problem was solved through negotiation.

"Objective information disclosure is also our priority. We are striving for transparency and safeguarding the nation's interest and image," Li added.

The AQSIQ views port transportation safety as another core task.

Last year, enterprise registration procedures were optimized, and supervision enhanced along every link of the goods transportation chain, especially of corn, wasted electronic appliances, wasted steel materials and crude oil.

As for control and monitoring of infectious diseases, 930,000 people were tested under monitoring measures and 240 million people received quarantine.

A total of 830,000 people received inoculation before leaving for foreign shores.

The administration also found 2,427 varieties of biologically damaging flora and fauna during the past year.

Recalling 2005, the minister said, "Administration and supervision at the 'source' of the products are priorities."

For electronic export products, manufacturing, packaging, transportation, storing and sales saw stricter supervision.

For export food, a state-of-the-art file management system was set up in 2005, effectively monitoring the residue of pesticides, discovering and controlling related diseases.

In 2005, many Chinese firms were banned by customs of member countries and regions in some free trade areas.

The administration helped such enterprises through the Generalized System of Preference (GSP) and the Certificate of Origin.

Every level of quality supervision and quarantine inspection bodies in China made solid progress in helping enterprises improve technology and meet the rising technology barriers set by foreign countries.

Negotiation and co-ordination with foreign countries was also enhanced, with a focus on increasing export.

Some 70, 000 sheep were exported to Kuwait for the first time ever, with support from the AQSIQ last year.

Cattle exports to Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Malaysia and Pakistan became smoother and pork exports to Singapore and Mongolia were resumed in 2005.

Summarizing accomplishments in 2005, Li said, "Hefty investment in research and development, optimized legal construction as well as streamlined administration are the keys to success."

On the fast track

"Constantly improving the quality of domestic products has been given great importance by the administration," Li Chuanqing, Party secretary of the AQSIQ noted.

The nation broadened the administrative scope of the market access mechanism. Ten varieties of food were allowed to enter the market and 14,502 certificates for food production issued, according to him.

Last year, the AQSIQ authorized market access for 370 varieties of food covering 28 categories and accounting for 70 per cent of the nation's food industry.

The Party secretary said, "The administration plays a pivotal role in establishing fair market order."

Statistics show that in 2005, the AQSIQ dealt with some 6,000 illegal food cases, and cracked down on 327 illegal enterprises with fake products worth 410 million yuan (US$50.55 million).

The active, timely and effective investigation in bird flu stricken areas has also been highly recognized nationwide.

"A number of enterprises are launching brand strategy to sharpen competitive edge. The 'Chinese Top Brand Products' accredited by the administration, have highlighted the good quality and credit of Chinese products," the Party secretary said.

A batch of "Chinese Top Brand Products" were promoted by the administration after strict and comprehensive assessment and accreditation.

In 2005, 501 products from 461 enterprises have been assessed as "Chinese Top Brand Products."

Haier refrigerators and washing machines and Huawei switching systems have been recognized as "World-level Chinese Top Brands."

The administration has also developed a quality credit system. A product quality management software was utilized on an experimental basis in Central China's Jiangxi Province and East China's Shandong Province and the network will be installed in more areas this year.

Geographical indication protection also saw development. A total of 70 such products valued at some 30 billion yuan (US$3.69 billion) were recognized by the administration.

A string of personal safety and environment protection, energy and water saving standards were enacted by the AQSIQ.

Some 21,575 national quality standards and 8,511 national quality standards to be issued were re-sorted.

Agricultural standards will also be better managed. Last year the administration planned to revise 607 agricultural production standards.

Last year also witnessed the establishment of 2,228 standard agricultural production areas in China.

As for food safety standards, the administration looked into 867 national-level quality standards and 348 industry-level standards last year.

New technological standards were issued, given the nation's technology innovation upswing in 2005.

Special equipment supervision is also on the up.

The administration has built a sound network to improve supervision, involving 7,517 supervisors and 68,000 coordinators around China.

Informationization made fast progress, as 29 provinces and autonomous regions adopted a special equipment supervision network.

A total of 27 provincial-level quality supervision bodies mapped out rescue plans for emergencies and 21 of them underwent drill training. Compared to 2004, accidents went down by 18 per cent and the number of dead and injured declined by 22 and 25 per cent respectively in 2005.

As a result, direct economic loss fell by 53 per cent.

Also in 2005, the AQSIQ established two state-of-the-art information platforms for law enforcement and information service.

A total of 1.82 million law enforcement staff nationwide dealt with some 180,000 cases of fake steel, oil and corn.

Counterfeit products valued at 3.3 billion yuan (US$406.9 million) and 100 related cases were transferred to public safety bodies last year.

"As people's health and safety are our top concern, we will spare no effort to enhance our work in 2006," the Party secretary and the minister of the administration both emphasized.

(China Daily February 13, 2006)

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