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Apology by Mattel praised in China

From the Associated Press

beijing -- China’s state media on Monday welcomed U.S. toy maker Mattel’s apology over its recalls of Chinese-made toys, saying that although overdue it should help restore the country’s sullied export reputation.

Mattel apologized in Beijing on Friday for recalling 21 million toys this summer, the majority of which had small magnets that could fall out and be harmful to children if swallowed.

The company acknowledged the problem was a design flaw and not the fault of Chinese manufacturers.

However, the recalls also included hundreds of thousands of toys found to contain hazardous lead-tainted paint. Mattel said the company pulled more of those toys off shelves than necessary, making Chinese manufacturers look bad.

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Mattel, the world’s largest toy maker, said it understood and appreciated the “issues that this has caused for the reputation of Chinese manufacturers.”

“The apology, though delayed, should help dispel the suspicion American customers harbor against Chinese-made products and clean up the stain the recalls left on the innocent Chinese workers who make a living doing honest labor,” the official English-language China Daily newspaper reported.

The state-run Guangzhou Daily said in an editorial Monday that Mattel’s apology was a little late “but at least it redressed injustice against toys made in China.” But it added, “It is still too early to say we are happy.”

Thomas A. Debrowski, Mattel’s executive vice president for worldwide operations, made the apology during talks with Li Changjiang, chief of one of China’s product safety watchdogs.

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Chinese-made foods, drugs and other products as diverse as toothpaste and seafood are under intense scrutiny because they have been found to contain potentially deadly substances.

But China has bristled at what it claims is a campaign to ruin its reputation as an exporter. It accuses foreign media and others of playing up its product safety issues as a form of protectionism.

The International Herald Leader, a subsidiary publication of the official New China News Agency, said in an editorial that the “American media should also apologize” for the way it handled the Mattel recalls.

Beijing insists that most of its exports are safe but has stepped up inspections of food, drugs and other products.

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