China blacklists 400 exporters

The move comes after a series of product safety problems. The government continued to stress the quality of its products.

BEIJING (Reuters) -- China has blacklisted more than 400 exporters for violating trade rules following a series of food, drug and other health scares across the world, the Commerce Ministry said on Saturday.

The list included two pet food manufacturers that had exported to the United States. Washington stepped up inspections of imports from China after a chemical additive in pet food caused the death of some pets there earlier this year.

Since then, poisonous ingredients have been found in Chinese exports of toys, toothpaste and fish, while the deaths of patients in Panama was blamed on improperly labelled Chinese chemicals that were mixed into cough syrup.

In the latest scare, U.S. toy maker Mattel Inc. (Charts, Fortune 500) said on Wednesday that it was recalling 1.5 million Chinese-made toys worldwide because their paint may contain too much lead.

Chinese Vice Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng stressed the government line that Chinese products were overwhelmingly safe and of high quality, and called on foreign media not to hype the problems of a small minority of goods or companies.

But on the ministry Web site, he said 429 Chinese firms on the blacklist had been punished for violating export regulations. The Web site did not elaborate.

"China will strengthen international cooperation on the safety of products," Gao was quoted as saying.

China said on Friday it had banned seafood imports from Indonesia because many contained "toxic substances," Xinhua said.

A delegation of U.S. officials in Beijing hammered out "basic frameworks" for two agreements seeking to reassure U.S. consumers that Chinese-made goods met safety standards, Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt said on Friday.

China, where the former drug and food safety watchdog chief was executed last month for corruption, has also cancelled the licences of six medicine manufacturers.

The China Daily said 270 "on-the-spot drug test" vans would soon hit the roads of rural China to weed out counterfeit drugs. Top of page