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Producers Put Under Close Watch
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The quality watchdog Monday vowed to come down hard on producers of substandard goods while insisting that different national standards and inaccurate data have also led to a large part of exports being pegged as "defective".

"We endorse enterprises' recall measures. We will strictly scrutinize producers and punish (those churning out shoddy or unsafe products)," watchdog chief Li Changjiang said on Monday in Beijing.

Li, head of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, said the agency had carefully studied the quality and safety concerns about Chinese products, some of which have been recalled.

"We take these problems very seriously, " he told a press conference held by the State Council Information Office yesterday, the second time he has attended such an occasion in five weeks.

"We've penalized exporters which flout standards."

For example, the two firms whose chemical tainted pet food had been exported to North America were stripped of licenses, and their chief executives face criminal prosecution, Li said.

The plants which had produced toys for Mattel for many years had sustained huge losses because of the recent massive recalls of their products, and the owners are under "great pressure", according to Li.

Altogether, the US toy behemoth has recalled 20.2 million China-made toys because of hazards from small magnets and fears over lead in paint.

But Li made it clear that the Chinese side is not the only one to blame. "Of all the recalled products, 85 percent were manufactured in line with US designs and the requirements of US importers," Li said, adding the remaining 15 percent contained excessive levels of lead according to US standards.

"I've checked a few problematic toys myself and I think there do exist serious design defects, so serious that they would be recalled in any country, because they could harm children."

The producers in China have taken responsibility, but what kind of responsibility should the US importers and designers assume, the minister asked.

Overall, Chinese toys are safe, the official said.

Li also said China and the US have varying standards for some products, so there are differences in defining product safety.

(China Daily August 28, 2007)

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