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August 27, 2007
China defends quality of exports

China strongly defended the quality of its exports Monday, saying some problems were a result of varying global product standards and that a mass recall of toys was largely a result of faulty U.S. designs not Chinese workmanship.

Li Changjiang, the head of one of China's quality watchdogs, said "the different standards that China and the United States apply to different products" have been at the root of some of the recent tensions.

"That would lead to difficulty in defining whether a product is problematic," Li, director of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, said at a news conference. He did not elaborate.

Li's comments were the latest in China's attempts to prove it is working to overcome its safety woes and is a trustworthy manufacturer for both its people and the world. But continuing discoveries of high levels of chemicals and toxins in Chinese goods — from toothpaste and clothes to fish and juice — have made salvaging its reputation an uphill task.

Earlier this month, Mattel Inc. recalled almost 19 million Chinese-made dolls, cars and action figures because they were contaminated with lead paint or contained small, powerful magnets that children might swallow and damage their organs.

"About 85 percent were directly designed by the American company and produced according to requirements of the American importer," Li said.

Li said that overall Chinese-made toys were safe, and that the number of recalled toys were a small part of the 22 billion toys exported from China last year.

Beijing has highlighted its own recalls and import bans to show that other countries have quality problems as well, apparently part of its strategy to convince consumers it is taking the issue seriously. Associated Press reports

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