Toy makers face tough penalties on quality
Ting Shi and Ivan Zhai
The mainland's top quality control agency said yesterday that domestic toy companies whose exports had been recalled because of consumer health scares would face severe punishment and stringent supervision, China News Service reported.
Export licences for such companies would be suspended until they cleaned up their acts, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said.
'Serious violators will be transferred to legal authorities to be dealt with severely according to the law,' the report quoted an official from the agency as saying.
'The administration will increase its level of supervision, stop the export of the goods in question and resume exports when qualifications are completely overhauled.'
The report also named two mainland companies recently involved in massive recalls of exported toys due to their poisonous lead content.
The two Guangdong-based companies - Hansheng Wood in Dongguan and Lida Lee Der Industrial in Foshan - had temporarily been banned from exporting and had been ordered to 'regulate and redress' their business practices, the report said.
Last week, the US toymaker Mattel recalled nearly 1.5 million plastic preschool toys worldwide, all made by Lee Der, because they contained paint found to have excessive amounts of lead.
In June, US toy importer RC2 Corporation recalled 1.5 million 'Thomas & Friends' wooden railway toys made by Hansheng and painted with toxic lead paint.
Hansheng's general manager said he had been expecting the quality watchdog's strong stance but the tough supervision rules would hurt the business.
'Americans are making very loud noises,' the manager, surnamed Zhang, said. 'They would protest louder if [administration] didn't make any gesture. It'll surely affect our company. We'll have to purchase more quality-supervision facilities, hire more people to monitor production processes and send our products to quality checking agencies more frequently. All of these will raise the cost of the product.'
The company had not always conducted quality checks, he admitted, because they were 'too costly and too time-consuming'.
'One quality check can cost several thousand yuan,' Mr Zhang said.
There had recently been more inspections from governmental quality supervision agencies, he said. 'They [officials] used to visit our factory once in a quarter, but now they come up much more frequently, without notifying us beforehand,' he said.
The administration said it would implement more measures to enhance the quality of the 'Made-in-China' label, but did not go into details. American toy production experts and officials were welcome to inspect Chinese toy factories and quality laboratories, it added.