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U.S., China urged to work together on product quality, food safety
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08:05, December 12, 2007

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The United States and China should work together to meet "new challenges posed by economic globalization," such as the issue of product quality and food safety, Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi said in a commentary published in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.

"With economic globalization gaining momentum, product quality and food safety have increasingly become a global issue. The Chinese government shares the concerns of both Chinese and foreign consumers about product quality and food safety," she noted in the commentary.

All parties should take a hard look at substandard products. "Making sensational charges is convenient, but won't address the root of the problem," said the vice premier.

"The Chinese government takes product quality and food safety very seriously," Wu wrote ahead of the Strategic Economic Dialogue with the U.S., noting that "Quality, but inexpensive, Chinese goods are favored by consumers across the world -- and particularly American consumers."

She also stressed that "We are keenly aware that even if 10,000quality products are sold, just one defective product that finds its way to market will harm the interest of the consumer who buys it."

China is a responsible member of the international community, and the Chinese government has redoubled efforts to strengthen the system of supervision and control over product quality, especially relating to exports, she said.

The Chinese government launched in August a four-month, nationwide campaign to improve product quality and safety in the following areas: agricultural products, food processing, food sold in stores, catering, medicine, pork, imports and exports, and other consumer goods involving human health and safety.

"Over the past few months, I myself have held 10 national meetings on improving product quality and safety," said Wu Yi, "Our efforts are paying off."

The vice premier pledged that the Chinese government will continue to take tough measures to improve product quality and safety, "even if this means increasing our costs and suffering a drop in exports."

She said that "China will live up to its responsibilities and obligations when it comes to product quality and food safety," but appealed for "understanding, support and help from our trade partners, as we are contributing our share to resolving the problem."

"We should find out what has caused the defect: Is it caused by faulty design or substandard material supplied, or has something gone wrong in production or in the course of transportation? While these questions remain unanswered, it is unfair to place all the blame on producers," she added.

Chinese officials insisted that some Chinese products recalled in the U.S. could be attributed to real quality and safety problem, but majority of the recalls were due to a large gap in standards between the two countries and design failures.

A report released by two Canadian business professors recently also concluded that most of the recalls of toys made in China were because of design errors, not manufacturing problems or the lead paint issue.

The report, which analyzed Chinese-made toy recalls by going through recalls issued by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission from 1988 to August, 2007, found of the 550 toy recall,76.4 percent were due to problems that could be attributed to design flaws.

Of the 20 million toys recalled by Mattel this year, 80 percent were because they contained small magnets, which is a design flaw, said the report. Mattel later also admitted that the company should take full responsibility for the recalls.

Source: Xinhua

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