China launches ad campaign to salvage global image

BEIJING (Reuters) - China, the country that introduced the world to formerly obscure chemicals like melamine and diethylene glycol via a series of product safety scandals, is now hoping to salvage its image through an advertising campaign.

The 30-second ads, played initially on CNN, show images of MP3 players printed with “Made in China with software from Silicon Valley,” and clothes labeled “Made in China with French designers.”

A jaunty soundtrack plays over happy Westerners jogging, eating, dancing, posing for a fashion shoot and looking out an aircraft window at a “Made in China, with engineers from all over the world” aircraft engine.

It ends with an American-accented voice saying: “When it says Made-in-China, it really means ‘Made-in-China, Made with the world’.”

The “charm offensive” is designed to promote Chinese-made goods “in a fair and objective way,” to tell overseas consumers “that Chinese companies work with overseas firms to produce quality products,” the official English-language China Daily said.

The campaign “reflects the Chinese companies’ attitude and aspiration of strengthening cooperation with other countries to provide quality goods for foreign consumers,” it added.

China, often called the world’s factory, is struggling to convince a skeptical global audience that it has won a battle to improve safety standards after recent scandals involving everything from pet food and dumplings to children’s toys.

The issue has proven a huge irritant in ties between China and the United States and European Union, the country’s largest trade partners.

But Beijing insists it is getting tough after endless promises to crack down.

Last week, China executed two people for their role in a tainted milk case that killed at least six children and poisoned nearly 300,000 others.

They fell ill last year after drinking milk intentionally laced with melamine, a toxic industrial compound that can give a fake positive on protein tests.

In 2006, around 100 people died in Panama after taking cough syrups containing a Chinese-made sweetener tainted with diethylene glycol, an industrial solvent normally used in antifreeze.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Chris Lewis and Bill Tarrant