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Archive for Saturday, August 18, 2007

China attempts to regain confidence

August 18, 2007

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— China made a fresh effort Friday to prove its commitment to eliminating the country's recurring food safety problems, releasing a policy paper that highlights improved inspections and putting a trusted troubleshooter in charge of a quality control campaign.

The paper, issued by the information office of the Cabinet, lists a series of achievements and planned measures, from establishing a national food recall system to increasing exchanges with quality inspectors in other countries. One improvement, it said, was that 89.2 percent of food products nationwide passed quality checks in the first six months of 2007.

"China is a responsible country," said the 39-page State Council Information Office paper. "The Chinese government has stepped up active measures in enhancing food quality and ensuring food safety to protect the interests of consumers in both China and other countries."

Also Friday, the government said it appointed Vice Premier Wu Yi, one of its most respected officials internationally, to lead a previously announced Cabinet-level panel to oversee product quality and food safety. In the past, Wu has guided negotiations to get China into the World Trade Organization and efforts to remedy an inadequate health system in the midst of the SARS pneumonia outbreak.

The actions underscore the communist leadership's drive to rescue its reputation as a reliable link in the global economic supply chain after months of quality scares.

Chinese exports have been under scrutiny, especially in the U.S., China's most important export market. Regulators have turned up tainted pet-food ingredients and seafood and toothpaste with potentially dangerous chemicals and drugs. Mattel Inc., the world's biggest toy company, issued its second recall of Chinese-made toys this summer because of lead-tainted paint and tiny magnets that could be swallowed by children.

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