BEIJING - A senior Chinese health official complained on Tuesday that his country was being unfairly demonized as a center of fake drug production and defended the government's regulatory steps as sufficiently strong.

China has been battling a string of tainted and counterfeit food and pharmaceutical cases over recent years and has vowed to get tough.

While many of these scandals have only had a domestic impact, others have affected consumers abroad. At least 100 people in Panama are thought to have died in 2006 after consuming toxic, mislabeled drugs in cough syrup from China.

But Bian Zhenjia, deputy head of the State Food and Drug Administration, said China was being unfairly blamed for the problem, especially by foreign media which claim the country is a major exporter of fake drugs.

I do not agree with what the foreign media say. The Chinese government has always paid a lot of attention to cracking down on fake drugs, Bian told a news conference.

The problem was that sometimes overseas companies ignored Chinese regulations and did business with unregistered firms, he said.

We hope that we can work hard together with the rest of the world and crack down on fake drugs, not hype up the problem and launch attacks, he said, adding some reports on fake drugs from China were simply false.

If the international community can give us information on fake drugs, we will resolutely investigate. There is no ambiguity about this, Bian added.

China frequently complains it is misrepresented by overseas media on everything from product quality to its rule of Tibet, and says the journalists ignore China's side of the story or intentionally seek to blacken its name.