Inspection and quarantine authorities in south China's Guangdong Province have bolstered efforts to further scrutinize the quality of toys exported overseas.
A new product quality licensing system was launched this week, and toy exporters have been ordered to have their products assessed locally for official inspection.
All toymakers that manufacture products for foreign markets will need to apply for "quality licensing" within a month, according to an official with Guangdong Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau, who declined to be identified.
"We will keep a closer watch on not only finished products but also on potentially dangerous chemicals and paints," she said.
"And we will keep records concerning suppliers of potentially dangerous chemicals for toys and toy subcontractors."
The move follows two recent massive toy recalls in the United States.
US toy giant Mattel requested in early August that Foshan-based Lee Der Industrial Co Ltd recall 967,000 plastic toys containing excessive amounts of lead in the paint.
And RC2, a toy company in the US, requested Dongguan-based Hansheng Wooden Products Factory recall 1.5 million wooden toys for a similar reason in June.
The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, the nation's top quality control watchdog, has since banned both toy factories from exporting.
An official with Dongguan Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau, who asked for anonymity, said toys made in his city were "generally good".
However, he suggested that toy manufacturers should pay more attention to issues such as substandard small components, improper warning messages, improper magnetic toy design and hazardous paints.
Li Zhuoming, vice-chairman of Guangdong Toy Industry Association, also attempted to tamp down fears of Made-in-China toys.
"What I can assure you is that Guangdong's toy production technologies and capabilities are up to world standards," Li said. "Generally speaking, the quality of our toy products is trustworthy."
The vice-chairman said Guangdong exported more than 300,000 batches of toys to the United States in 2006, and only 29 were recalled.
Simon Yip, the head of a toy firm in Guangzhou, said the recalls were a wake-up call for toy manufacturers in China.
"We can spare no efforts to guarantee the product quality from raw material purchase to production," Yip said.
However, he urged foreign toy importers not to demand the lowest price for the manufacture of their products.
"Toymakers have to be extremely economical in every way in order to survive when the profit is so limited," Yip said.
(China Daily August 23, 2007)