China bans toymaker’s exports

China bans toymaker’s exports
Article from: Herald Sun

August 14, 2007 12:00am

THE head of a Chinese toy manufacturing company at the centre of a huge recall has committed suicide.

Zhang Shuhong, who ran the Lee Der Industrial Co Ltd, killed himself at a warehouse at the weekend, just days after China announced it had temporarily banned exports by the company, the Southern Metropolis Daily reported.

Lee Der made 967,000 toys recalled this month, including in Australia, because they were made with paint found to have excessive amounts of lead.

The plastic preschool toys included the popular Big Bird, Elmo, Dora the Explorer and Diego.

The newspaper said the paint was supplied by Mr Zhang’s best friend.

“The boss and the company were harmed by the paint supplier, the closest friend of our boss,” said manager Mr Liu. He said Mr Zhang hanged himself on Saturday.

It is common for disgraced officials to commit suicide in China.

The recall came just two months after RC2 Corp, a New York company, recalled 1.5 million Chinese-made wooden railroad toys and set parts from its Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway product line because of lead paint.

Lead poisoning can cause vomiting, anaemia and learning difficulties.

In extreme cases, it can cause severe neurological damage and death.

China’s quality watchdog also said police were investigating two companies’ use of “fake plastic pigment” but did not give details.

Such pigments are a type of latex usually used to increase surface gloss and smoothness.

Chinese companies often have long supply chains, making it difficult to trace the exact origin of components, chemicals and food additives.

The toy recalls were among the largest in recent months involving Chinese products, which have come under fire for containing dangerously high levels of chemicals and toxins.

Food safety has taken on added urgency in the run-up to the Olympics in August next year.

Beijing authorities yesterday announced they would reward citizens who reported food safety concerns to officials.

The rules also increased penalties on officials who hold responsibility for food safety accidents.

Last month China executed the former head of its food and drug watchdog, after a sensational downfall that saw him become a symbol of the nation’s endemic graft and product safety problems.

Zheng Xiaoyu, 62, was convicted of taking bribes to approve substandard medicine blamed for several deaths.

Despite repeated government assurances they were taking a responsible attitude towards food and drug safety, there has been little let-up in the barrage of bad news.

In the latest incident, a chemical plant leaked arsenic into a river in southern China that supplies water to at least 20,000 people, a human rights group said.

High levels of arsenic and other chemicals have already killed at least 10,000 fish in the Chongan, a 70km river in Guizhou province, the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said in a statement this week.

Last month, a lead-zinc spill in a river in Hunan province in central China forced a one-day cut in water supplies to more than 200,000 people.

China still has problems, but I am glad that idiot killed himself for ruining lives, and his own company’s reputation.

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