U.S. Product Safety Agency Targets Chinese Goods with New Office in Beijing

The Consumer Product Safety Commission will open an office in the American embassy in Beijing as it steps up scrutiny of Chinese imports to the U.S. marketplace.

The office will initially be staffed by two embassy employees, who will be charged with communicating with Chinese officials about products suspected of being dangerous, Voice of America reports.

“By having a proactive preventive posture, we can reduce the number of recalls and keep our consumers safe, and also prevent the loss of revenue and damage to a manufacturer’s brand,” said Inez Tennenbaum, chairwoman of the CPSC.

China is the source of 45 percent of all consumer goods in the U.S., and 90 percent of the nation’s toys. The Beijing office will be the first of its kind.

Because of lax safety standards in Chinese manufacturing, the nation’s products have been viewed with suspicion by American regulators. In one notorious episode, Mattel in 2007 recalled millions of Chinese-made toys because of high lead content and magnets that could be swallowed by children, which reportedly caused at least one death.

Last year there were 220 safety recalls of Chinese goods. That figure has been dropping in recent years, as the Chinese government has taken some measures to crack down on unsafe products.

Separately, the safety commission said it is continuing to develop a new complaint database that for the first time will provide public access to reports of product safety problems. The database is scheduled to go live in March at SaferProducts.gov. The agency is planning an online preview of the website on Tuesday, according to the Washington Post.

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