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Last Updated: Friday, 21 September 2007, 15:30 GMT 16:30 UK
Product safety: Views from China
Safety fears in the US have recently prompted the recall of a host of Chinese-made products, including toothpaste, pet food and toys.

But Chinese officials have defended the quality of Chinese products saying that there is a new trend in trade protectionism.

The BBC News website asked people in China if they were concerned about product safety and what they made of the ongoing row between China and the US.

VICKY YUDONG, 29, DIGITAL MARKETING AGENCY, BEIJING

I read some reports that Chinese products were recalled from the US because of safety concerns. I don't usually pay too much attention to these stories.

Vicky Yudong
Vicky is confident that safety standards are improving fast
Whenever there are such controversies between the US, Europe and China, I don't bother to dig out who is right and who is wrong. I regard it as fundamentally political. What each side says is only part of the truth.

But the product safety issue does concern me a lot. For recalls to be made, there must be some disqualified products. This happens not only to products that China exports, but also to domestically-consumed ones.

It really depends on the manufacturers. There are many honest manufacturers, whose products meet the required standards.

The fact that some manufacturers make a dishonest profit out of lowering the safety standards bothers me constantly. So I carefully choose the places I go shopping, hoping to reduce the safety risks this way.

But the good thing is that product safety is improving fast.

ELLEN WEI, 34, MEDIA GROUP, SHANGHAI

The row between China and the US over product safety concerns quality in the export business, about which I know very little.

There have been many media reports in recent years about unsafe food in China. Some food is badly produced and some is contaminated by pollution. But some of the reports are just irresponsible rumours which are later exposed.

I am quite confident about the products sold in Shanghai. Shanghai is a very big and important city in China.

The local health authorities are implementing very strict rules to ensure that everything sold in the city is safe for consumption.

They release regular reports through the media to expose any products that are not up to the required standards and those products get immediately withdrawn from the shelves.

In Shanghai, people's health and lives are respected just as in Europe and the US.

CHRIS LAU, 21, STUDENT, GUANGZHOU

I think many of the issues have arisen because different countries have different standards and expectations regarding quality control.

I don't think the recalls reflect trade protectionism, as our government says. I think that most products are rejected because they don't pass other countries' standards.

I think any problems with exports from China's light industry, such as shoes and clothes, are likely to be individual occurrences.

But if there are problems with China's high-tech products, such as DVDs, it might be down to a broader issue of skills, because China can't match foreign skills in this area just yet.

CINDY RU, 22, STUDENT, BEIJING

Product safety has been a problem in China for a long time. Issues of food safety have been reported on national television for a few years now, although now we see them more often than before.

Thomas the Tank Engine
Chinese-made toys were recently recalled in the US
One reason could be that journalists often try to find such stories to report because they're popular.

China's businesses are booming so more people have been going into the production business. Some of the less informed businessmen may use cheap labour and cheap raw materials, which is unsafe.

The basic thing is to educate people. Many companies care about product quality because they want to improve their business, but some businesses, especially those in rural areas, haven't made much progress yet.

Some Chinese companies don't understand the importance of credentials and care more about quick profits.

It might be dangerous if you try to save money by buying cheap products you haven't heard of, but the majority of products you buy in supermarkets or shopping malls in big cities are fine.

The simple truth is that the recent recall of Chinese products is to do with the fact that the products weren't perfect.

Mainland companies often aren't used to setting strict rules about quality. I think that our government should devise a law in order to improve standards.

CHAN WINGTU, 36, TEACHER, GUANGZHOU

News about product safety issues doesn't affect my lifestyle too much. I'm generally careful when choosing what products to buy and try to have some knowledge of their background.

There are lots of products to choose from so we can afford to make comparisons.

I think that only a small percentage of Chinese products are unsafe and the products being recalled are isolated cases. China is rather wealthy now so its production standards are usually similar to international ones.

Most of us Chinese people aren't too worried that products we buy in China will be unsafe.



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