Foreign media have fuelled unfounded fears about Chinese products, the nation's top quality official has said, as China blocked a U.S. protein powder shipment while the two countries sparred over safety worries.
The deaths of patients in Panama from mislabeled drug ingredients from China, deadly toxins in pet food ingredients and food laced with additives and antibiotics have fanned public anxiety in the United States about the safety of China's surging exports.
But foreign reports about tainted Chinese foods had presented isolated failings as the whole picture, said Li Changjiang, head of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.
Some foreign media, especially those based in the U.S., have wantonly reported on so-called unsafe Chinese products. They are turning white to black, he said, according to the China Daily on Monday.
One company's problem doesn't make it a country's problem.
Chinese inspectors announced that a protein powder from a U.S. supplier contained too much selenium and was being sent back, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Monday.
Selenium is a trace mineral essential in small amounts, but too much of it can cause stomach upsets, hair loss and other problems.
At the weekend, China also suspended pork and poultry from some U.S. suppliers after finding salmonella-contaminated chicken and meat products with growth agents or other additives.
The bans, widely reported in the Chinese media, appeared to be Beijing's latest reminder that anxieties about product quality could also be directed at U.S. goods.
Companies affected by the meat ban include some of the giants of American agriculture, including a unit of the private Cargill Inc., and Tyson Foods, the leading U.S. producer of fresh beef and No. 2 producer of chicken and pork.
Another official from the Chinese quality inspection agency, Li Chuanqing, said foreign companies had exaggerated public worries about Chinese goods for their own ends.
An editorial in the overseas edition of the People's Daily, the ruling Communist Party's official paper, said it was inevitable that the country's rising exports would face tighter scrutiny from choosy foreign customers.
But it also blamed foreign forces seeking to undermine Chinese industry.
In recent years those people churning out the theory of a China threat have grabbed hold of this issue and not let go, treating isolated cases as the whole and maliciously attacking 'Made in China', the paper said.
China's criticisms of foreign media and companies are unlikely to alter widespread U.S. public anxiety about foods, medical ingredients, toys and other goods.
Last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced a temporary hold on imports of some Chinese seafood until suppliers could prove they were free of harmful residues.
Poorly regulated food and drug safety standards have been a problem for years in China, which has about half a million food processors. The Chinese government has moved in recent weeks to attack the problem, promising stricter oversight.
Last week it executed the former head of its Food and Drug Administration for corruptly approving unsafe drugs.
The People's Daily overseas edition said the country's manufacturers needed to raise their standards.
If international consumers enjoy high-quality 'Made-in-China,' what do we have to fear from media alarmism?