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Press Release
2007/08/29

Recently, the Canadian media have carried quite a lot of reports, editorials and comments about the quality and safety of certain Chinese exports, some of which are very negative and a few of which even call on Canadian consumers to stay away from Chinese products. In order to help the Canadian public better understand the whole situation, the Chinese Embassy has decided to issue the following press release detailing some facts as well as China's position and response.

1. The Chinese government attaches great importance to the quality and safety of its exports. Over the years, China has put in place an overall effective quality and safety supervision regime. The reason why "made-in-China" has been so popular for so long is not only that Chinese products are low in price, but also that the overwhelming majority of them are good in quality too. Take food exports for example, according to the survey of the Chinese quality control authorities from 2004 to the first half of 2007, 99% strong of all the food exports from China to foreign countries such as the US, EU and Japan are safe, higher than the percentage of exported food found qualified from the above countries to China. Another example is toy. Mattel recently recalled about 20.2 million toys whereas the total toy exports from China are as many as 22 billion. In light of this, we think it is far from fair to deny the whole "made-in-China" brand just because of a very small portion of products found with problems.

2. That being said, however, we do admit that as a developing country, China still has a long way to go in terms of its industrial development level and given its size, population, extensive supply chains and the number of small-sized private enterprises, it is quite a challenge for China to ensure the quality and safety of each and every product and problems do crop up from time to time, similar to what some western countries went through in the early stages of their development. As far as complaints about Chinese products are concerned, we have always taken them seriously and immediately looked into them. According to our investigation, recent complaints about Chinese products fall into the following three categories:

A. Certain products have indeed been found with problems. Take the pet food complaints for instance, it was later found that several local factories in China's Jiangsu Province and Shangdong Province did add melamine in wheat gluten used to make pet food and they also managed to evade government inspection by illegal means. Another case in point is the 3 million toys with lead paint, accounting for 15% of all the toys recently recalled by Mattel. After investigations, the Chinese government immediately instructed the factories involved in the above two cases to recall all their products. Some factories have since been shut down and those responsible have been punished severely according to law.

B. Some cases are mainly caused by different criteria between China and foreign countries or change of criteria by foreign countries. Take toothpastes containing diglycol for instance, according to Chinese experts, using toothpastes containing 15.6% or less diglycol will not harm the health of people. Besides, for a long time, there have been no international standards in this area. Noting that this is important to our exporting countries, however, China has since banned the use of diglycol in toothpaste. Another example is the majority of toys recalled by Mattel. Actually, 85% of all those toys were made in strict accordance with Mattel's design and requirements. However, the US readjusted its standards about magnets in toys this May. It then turned out that there were some defects in Mattel's design. So in the latter case, the Chinese manufacturers are not to blame at all.

C. There are also some cases that qualified Chinese exports were wrongfully accused by foreign inspecting agencies with unreliable data. The ZhongCe tire is a case in point. Investigation has since found that it was nothing but a business stunt used by some US dealers who were in the middle of a lawsuit and who later confessed to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that ZhongCe tires actually more than met with the US standards. Another would be the pajama case in New Zealand. According to the result of investigation by an independent New Zealand lab, those pajamas meet the New Zealand criteria and are actually safe.

3. The Chinese government has already taken a series of earnest measures to address its part of the problem. The measures are as follows:

A. Premier Wen Jiabao recently presided over a working conference on product quality of the State Council, the first of its kind in 7 years.

B. The State Council promulgated new regulations on the management and supervision of food and other products, further reinforcing law enforcement in product quality and food safety.

C. The State Council issued a notice on how to better ensure the quality and safety of products, defining in inexplicit terms the responsibilities of the enterprises and local governments.

D. The State Council issued a white paper on the current food quality of China, introducing what the enterprises and local governments have been doing to ensure food safety.

E. The State Council also convened a national video conference on product quality and food safety

From these, people can see the political will of the Chinese government in resolving the issue. Besides, China has also put in place a very strict recall and penalty system. In case of a quality or safety lapse on the part of Chinese factories, they are obliged to immediately recall problematic products. Their licenses will be provoked and managers who are responsible will be sued according to Chinese law.

4. To sum up, the Chinese government will not shirk its responsibility if the complaints are indeed justified. However, we do think some issues have been blown out of proportion and China has been given more than its share of the blame. About 60% of goods exported from China globally are actually from western-owned and operated factories. Much of the other 40% of goods are produced by Chinese-owned and managed factories contracted by western companies to produce goods for sale on western markets. However, much to our regret, there have emerged some very irresponsible reports about Chinese products along the way and some people with ulterior motives have even tried to politicize this issue and use this as an excuse to further trade protectionism, to which the Chinese side is firmly opposed. A lot of westerners with vision have also voiced their opposition. In an open letter to the US Congress by 1028 US economists including some Nobel Prize laureates, they expressed concern over the protectionism urges that reign supreme inside the US, especially on the issue of China. The US retailers association also wrote to the US House of Representatives, in which they expressed their opposition to trade retaliation against China citing failures in previous retaliations, possible job losses and increased costs to US consumers and the US economy.

In China's opinion, in today's global village, the interdependence of countries has become a matter of life. To ensure the quality and safety of China's exports will entail the cooperation between Chinese manufacturers and western companies and also between the Chinese government and western governments. The Chinese side looks forward to more international cooperation in this area.

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