The Chinese toy industry is proving that it can weather the recession but deep marks are still visible from the quality crisis of 2007.
A monster under the bed
While the recession caused problems for the Chinese toy industry, the incident that left the most lingering mark was the quality crisis of 2007. Thomas the Tank Engine and Big Bird featured large in the nightmares in southern China's booming industrial zones when the biggest toy company in the world, Mattel, recalled 18 million toys made in China because of potentially dangerous magnets, just two weeks after it recalled 1.5 million toys over fears about lead paint.
Li Zhuoming, the deputy director of the Guangdong Toy Association, goes to pains to point out that Chinese toy quality is high and the Chinese government attaches great importance to this issue. Any exporting toy companies must undergo a rigorous inspection to obtain a licence and another inspection by government officials or a third-party quality-control body before their products are shipped overseas, Mr Li says.
"Toys and baby things are products strictly controlled by all governments," he says. "Every parent is very concerned about the safety of their children and their growth, so all parties do their utmost to ensure product quality and safety." The Chinese government is trying to improve its image after the recalls, and the tainted milk scandal last year when the industrial chemical melamine was found in dairy products.
Last month, Beijing launched a global advertising campaign aimed at giving the "Made in China" a brand boost, the first time the government has embarked on on a branding campaign. The 30-second TV commercial centres on the tagline "Made in China. Made with the World" and illustrates how Chinese companies co-operate with foreign firms to produce high-quality goods. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org