China's farmers have purchased more than 16 million units of home appliances, worth 28 billion yuan (4.1 billion U.S. dollars) since December 2007, taking advantage of government subsidies to boost rural sales.
Retail outlets, totaling 164,000, have taken part in the scheme in all counties nationwide, Vice Minister of Commerce Jiang Zengwei said Thursday during a teleconference on the subsidy program which aims to combat substandard and fake home appliances.
The Chinese government started in December 2007 to provide a 13-percent subsidy to farmers who buy designated brands of color TV sets, refrigerators and mobile phones in Shandong, Henan and Sichuan provinces and Qingdao City.
The subsidy program was widened across the nation on Feb. 1 this year and expanded to include certain categories of home appliances, aiming at boosting domestic consumption as foreign demand for China's exports is dropping.
Jiang also said there had been cases of illegal retailers selling substandard and fake home appliances to farmers under the subsidy program.
He said the ministry would launch a nationwide seven-month crackdown on these practices to protect farmers' interests.
China, the world's largest producer and exporter of household electric appliances, is home to more than 120,000 household-appliance makers of various sizes.