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Cablegate: 2008 Food and Product Safety Legislative Agenda

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PP RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHBJ #0360/01 0320011
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 010011Z FEB 08
FM AMEMBASSY BEIJING
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4749
INFO RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RULSDMK/DEPT OF TRANSPORTATION WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAEPA/HQ EPA WASHDC
RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 BEIJING 000360

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

EAP/PD FOR NIDA EMMONS
HHS FOR OGHA/STEIGER AND PASS TO FDA/LUMPKIN
USDA FOR FSIS/RAYMOND
USDA FOR FAS OA/YOST, OCRA/ALEXANDER, OSTA/BRANT AND SHNITZLER
COMMERCE FOR ITA/HIJIKATA AND CINO
STATE PASS TRANSPORTATION FOR NHTSA ABRAHAM/KRATZKE
STATE PASS CONSUMER PRODUCTS SAFETY COMMISSION RICH O'BRIEN/INTL
PROGRAMS
STATE PASS USTR CHINA OFFICE/TIM WINELAND
STATE PASS OMB/INT'L AFFAIRS
STATE PASS HOMELAND SECURITY COUNCIL
STATE PASS IMPORT SAFETY WORKING GROUP

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO EAGR ECON HHS ETRD BEXP CH
SUBJECT: 2008 FOOD AND PRODUCT SAFETY LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

Ref: A. 07 Beijing 5271

B. 07 Beijing 4561
C. 07 Beijing 4808
D. 07 Beijing 5255
E. 07 Beijing 5899
F. 07 Guangzhou 1270

1. (SBU) Summary: China is preparing for a banner year in 2008 in
food and product safety as authorities draft and review seven
separate pieces of legislation or regulations. The most important
piece of legislation, the Food Safety Law, is a comprehensive law
encompassing all facets of the food production supply chain that
will unify national, local, and industry standards. AQSIQ Policy
and Legislation Director General Liu Zhaobin told Econ Mincouns
January 18 that the law will go through two more readings
(revisions) by the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing
Committee and would not be finished in 2008. AQSIQ will also focus
on six new items: the Entry/Exit Health and Inspection Law, the
Measurement Law, the Standardization Law, the Product Recall
regulation, the Quality Award regulation, and the Special Equipment
regulation, which has implications for energy conservation. AQSIQ
has notified the WTO about a draft food safety measure that will
affect imports and exports and is engaged in risk assessment of
cloning. Shedding light on the leading group decision process, Liu
said that the Food Safety and Product Quality Leading Group chaired
by Vice Premier Wu Yi discussed the Food Safety Law but did not have
a role in approving it for passage to the NPC. Finally, Liu noted
that he would like to visit the United States to conduct research on
establishing a quality award for China based on U.S. and Japanese
models. End Summary.

Update on Food Safety Law
-------------------------

2. (SBU) AQSIQ Policy and Legislation Director General Liu Zhaobin
told Econ Mincouns January 18 that the Food Safety Law would undergo
three readings (or revisions) in total by the National People's
Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, of which the first reading
occurred in late December 2007. The law will require imported
products to meet Chinese standards and exported products to meet
importing country standards. The draft law reinforces a State
Council directive (Ref. A) of July 2007 that established clearer
food safety guidelines and penalties. Among other measures, the new
law also requires public notification of major risks, requires
publication of national standards for public viewing, establishes
restrictions on sales of substandard food, prohibits commingled
shipping of food items with contaminants, and calls for more food
safety education in villages and schools. The law will mandate
inspection and testing at each step in the supply chain. AQSIQ made
a choice to leave the law's language broad, Liu noted. Details will
be worked out later in the implementing regulations.

Risk Assessment and Cloning
---------------------------

3. (SBU) The development of standards requires an understanding of
food dangers, Liu noted, and so the Food Safety Law establishes a
mechanism for risk assessment. The vehicle for risk assessments
will be the "Risk Assessment Expert Committee" composed of experts
from agencies, academia, and research institutions. The Committee
will have the responsibility to report their findings to appropriate
agencies, which will then be required to take immediate action in
cases of large scale contamination or harm. Two areas of focus now
for standards development are allergies (such as peanut allergies)
and the risks posed by food from cloned animals. Whereas
genetically modifying a gene requires manipulation, Liu said cloning
was simply the copying of an existing gene. One report he had seen

BEIJING 00000360 002 OF 003


indicated cloning would be less risky than genetic modification.

New Legislation and Regulations
-------------------------------

4. (SBU) Other food and product safety-related legislation for 2008
includes:

-- Entry/Exit Health and Inspection Law: This law covers 14
communicable diseases, including SARS, as well as chemical and
nuclear threats. It will be compliant with WHO international
standards. This draft law will be submitted to the NPC in 2008.

-- Measurement Law: This law covers measurement of packaging,
measuring instruments, and responsible agencies. A draft has been
submitted to the State Council Legislative Affairs Office (SCLAO).

-- Standardization Law: The law will facilitate the harmonization of
10,000 Chinese standards to international standards. Liu said that
government agencies will solicit input from industries in the
revision of these standards. The draft law has been submitted to
the SCLAO.

-- Product Recall regulation: This law will serve as an umbrella
recall regulation to cover all products not already covered under
food, toy, and automobile recall regulations. The law has been
drafted and is now in a public comment period.

-- Quality Award regulation: China would like to establish a
corporate quality award modeled on Japanese and U.S. awards, such as
the National Institute of Standards and Technology Malcolm Baldridge
Award instituted in 1987. Liu said he would like to conduct a study
visit to the United States for further research on establishing a
similar award in China.

-- Special Equipment regulation: This regulation covers safety
supervision of elevators, industrial boilers, and cranes. Energy
efficiency is a component of the law and AQSIQ will have a
responsibility for advocating energy efficiency in these equipment
categories. Liu noted that of 2.1 billion tons of coal consumed
annually in China, 1.7 billion tons is used in industrial boilers
(for power generation). This regulation has been submitted to SCLAO
and might be approved in 2008.

-- New Import/Export measures: On January 10, AQSIQ notified the WTO
of a new draft rule "Measures for the Administration of Inspection,
Quarantine, and Supervision of Imported and Exported Food"
(G/SPS/N/CHN/104). This measure will likely have a significant
impact on food and agricultural trade with China. It gives details
about the inspection process an requirements for both mported and
exported oods. Some of its key provisions follow the diection and
spirit of the Food Safety Law now nder review.

Leading Group: No Stamp of Approval
-----------------------------------

5. (SBU) The Food Safety and Product Quality Leading Group chaired
by Vice Premier Wu Yi did not have to approve of the Food Safety Law
draft before it went to the NPC, Liu said, but participating
agencies were able to submit comments. Asked specifically if the
Leading Group had an opportunity to vote on the adequacy of the law,
Liu said there was no vote.

Comment
-------

6. (SBU) AQSIQ's new role in overseeing energy efficiency in special

BEIJING 00000360 003 OF 003


equipment takes the agency into a regulatory area not previously
within its purview. The move illustrates the importance China places
on the incorporation of energy efficiency into existing regulatory
frameworks. With regard to establishing a quality award for China,
post will assist in arranging AQSIQ's visit to the United States
with appropriate interlocutors.

7. (SBU) The draft Import/Export measures law is a mix of old and
new regulatory authorities. Much of the document repeats goals and
authorities already established in other laws or regulations.
However, there are sections that codify certain ad-hoc measures
taken in the past and include new requirements that will disrupt
trade. Certain strict regulatory requirements previously applied
only to Chinese exported food and agricultural products would now,
in this law, be applied to imported products as well. Thorough
examination by the Interagency SPS group for WTO consistency and
follow-up is warranted.

RANDT

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