AP: When freelance writer Wang Jian shops for toys for her 5-year-old son, she's happy to pay extra for Legos blocks and Japanese-brand train sets.
December 16, 2007

AP:

When freelance writer Wang Jian shops for toys for her 5-year-old son, she's happy to pay extra for Legos blocks and Japanese-brand train sets.

The reason, she and other parents say: Foreign brands enjoy a reputation for higher quality - a perception reinforced by the product scares of recent months.

"We pay close attention to the news about toy and food safety. If I find a problem with a certain brand, I will just stop using it for sure," said Wang, who writes for film magazines.

China may be Santa's global workshop, but when it comes to buying playthings for their own children, Chinese families who can afford it opt for foreign-brand toys - even if they are made in China.

Quality and safety issues are drawing more attention as incomes rise and upwardly mobile Chinese grow more health conscious. While virtually all toys on the market, whether foreign or domestic brands, are made in China, factories making foreign brands are assumed to abide by more rigorous standards to screen out lead paint and other harmful materials.

"I dare not buy cheap wooden toys or toys with paint," said Lin Yan, a professor at Shanghai International Studies University, whose 7-year-old daughter tested for elevated levels of lead in her blood.

I actually attended a Christmas party this weekend where the host gave out lead testing pens as hostess gifts, so that we parents could check our children's future gifts. What a wonderful free market economy statement for us all.

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