China needs to improve the quality of its exports to win a better
international reputation, Premier Wen Jiabao said during a meeting on Friday
that set out punishments for food and drug firms that violate standards.
photo of shoppers at a supermarket in Shenyang, in northeast China's
Liaoning province, May 14, 2007. [Reuters]
"Product quality relates to our people's interest, the survival and
development of our enterprises and the image of our nation," Wen told the
meeting on export quality.
It was crucial to win over the international market with good-quality
exports, Wen added.
Chinese exports of everything from fish to toys, pet food to toothpaste, have
been found in recent months to be mislabeled, unsafe or dangerously
contaminated, creating an international backlash.
Wen's remarks were reported on state radio and TV. "We will not avoid problems, but we
protest against untrue reports that tell only part of the story, and trade
protectionism and discrimination," Wen was quoted as saying.
Food safety scandals are a regular topic in the Chinese media, but the nation
lacks a basic food safety law and the ability to enforce its food and drug
safety regulations at home or for exports. Its imports are generally carefully
The head of the State Food and Drug Administration was executed last month,
after being found guilty of accepting bribes to approve drugs.
"It is a timely, urgent and important job and also a long-term and enduring
task for us to fully improve the quality of Chinese products," Wen said.
China would raise the threshold for products relating to human health and
safety so as to prevent problematic exports from leaving the country, he said.
The authorities would also check every stage of production, including raw
materials, additives and intermediate products, so as to make the "made in
China" brand a symbol for goods with great quality, Wen said.
Producers of food, drugs and other agricultural goods that violate the food
safety rules would face fines of up to 100,000 yuan ($13,220), have operation
certificates or export permits cancelled or even risk arrest, according to
regulations carried on the central government Web site (www.gov.cn).