Friday

14th May 2021

EU hits back at China's accusation over hazardous products

  • "This is not a question of trade, but of health", says the EU trade commissioner (Photo: EUobserver)

Amid growing concern about the safety of a series of Chinese products in recent weeks, the European Union has rejected a claim from Beijing that the bloc's response is politically motivated to protect its market.

"The allegation that European companies' action against toxic Chinese goods is politically motivated and shows bias against China is totally false", EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson said in statement on Monday (20 August).

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"This is not a question of trade, but of health", he added.

Mr Mandelson's comments came after Beijing had described the EU's measures to prevent dangerous Chinese-made goods from entering its 27-nation market as "protectionism" and had warned against calling into question the quality of all Chinese-made goods.

"This China product threat rhetoric or the demonisation of [the image of] Chinese product is a new trend in trade protectionism", Li Changjiang, the head of China's safety watchdog said on Sunday (19 August), according to AFP.

"To escalate this problem and to make it applicable to the whole of Made in China [products] is an irresponsible act which makes consumers sceptical about Chinese-made products", he added.

Earlier this month, US toymaker Mattel recalled 18.2 million Chinese-made toys worldwide, citing worries about paint containing lead and small magnets that can come loose. In addition, Mattel's Fisher-Price unit recalled 1.5 million toys also due to lead in paint, while the European Union issued a warning over Chinese toothpastes, body creams and hair dyes.

But Mr Mandelson urged China not to use any retaliation measures.

"If some in China want to create the pretext for retaliatory action, the EU will contest this in the strongest terms", said the commissioner.

"Action should be taken where this is needed but otherwise the bulk of our trade should continue as normal", he added.

In general, Chinese products - which amount to over a quarter of all goods imported to the EU - are a number one concern for the bloc on account of safety issues.

In 2006, more than 900 products were identified as too dangerous to be sold in the 27-nation market, with China being the country of origin in almost half of all those cases.

In 2005, 80 percent of all notifications regarding hazardous toys involved Chinese-made items.

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