China's latest substandard goods: batteries, liquor

BEIJING, July 6 (Reuters) - Inspectors in southern China found nearly half of mobile phone batteries and liquor tested to be below standard, state media said on Friday, providing more ammunition for critics of the country's quality standards.

China has come under pressure from the United States in particular over exports of toxic medicines, foods and toys, prompting demands from the government for stricter standards.

Tests conducted by Guangdong province's bureau of industry and commerce showed that 40 percent of mobile phone batteries were defective, including recharging capacity that was less than labelled, the official Legal Daily said.

The bureau conducted the tests after a migrant worker was killed in the northwestern province of Gansu last month when his mobile phone battery exploded in his chest pocket. In a similar incident, a worker was injured in Guangdong's provincial capital, Guangzhou, last month.

About 80 percent of battery rechargers failed to pass tests, the Guangzhou-based Southern Daily said.

"In order to compete in the market, some manufacturers removed key parts and sold rechargers at low prices to reduce costs," the bureau was quoted as saying.

Foreign mobile phone makers say counterfeiting of their phones, batteries and rechargers is common in China.

The Guangdong Express said nearly half its tests of liquor sold in markets in the area were substandard, containing excessive additives or ingredients inconsistent with labels.

Domestic media expose scandals involving substandard food and medicines almost every day.

The food security issue burst into the international spotlight after tainted additives exported from China contaminated pet food in North America.

Public fears about food safety grew in China in 2004 when at least 13 babies died of malnutrition after they were fed fake milk powder that had no nutritional value.