Germany teddy maker Steiff to end production in China

Venerable German toy maker Steiff will no longer produce its trademark teddy bears in China because of quality concerns, according to a newspaper report on Wednesday.

Germany teddy maker Steiff to end production in China
Photo: DPA

“We are withdrawing from China step by step. For toys of high quality, China is simply not a reliable source,” the Stuttgarter Nachrichten newspaper quoted company chief Martin Frechen as saying.

Frechen said Chinese factories were not able to produce complicated models to the company’s standards or ship toys for which there was a strong demand to Germany in time. He said delivery times became a pressing problem when Steiff ordered 80,000 copies of its white “Knut” bear, based on the Berlin zoo’s popular polar bear cub by the same name, and the toys took three months to reach Germany.

Steiff, which was founded by a wheelchair-bound woman in 1800, began outsourcing production to Chinese factories in 2004, saying German producers could not compete in terms of cost.

The company sent 300 workers to China to oversee production, but Frechen said even so the Chinese producers fell short of standards. Steiff is battling to win back marketshare for its most famous product, a teddy with a button sewn into its ear, and Frechen said bringing production back to Germany was part of these efforts.

The company said if one of the bear’s eyes were placed a fraction too high or low, its melancholy gaze loses its appeal, the newspaper said. Steiff’s announcement comes less than a month after Beijing revoked the export licences of about 700 toys factories over safety failings.


Germany toughens China travel warning over ‘invasive’ Covid tests

Germany has toughened its advisory against travel to China, warning that travellers could be placed under hospital quarantine for weeks upon arrival and subjected to "invasive" medical tests even if they have previously recovered from the coronavirus.

Germany toughens China travel warning over 'invasive' Covid tests
A plane flying from Frankfurt airport. Photo: DPA

In its latest travel advisory update, the Foreign Ministry said that the stringent measures were imposed on “people cured of Covid-19”, as well as others who test positive for antibodies because of an undetected illness, or others who had arrived on the same flight and who test positive for the coronavirus.

“Medical measures applied by the Chinese side are invasive and include in part daily blood tests and computer scans,” the Foreign Ministry said.

All travellers arriving in China are required to serve a 14-day quarantine at a location determined by the government.

While small children are “as a rule” allowed to spend their quarantine with their parents, those aged 14 years and up can be placed in isolation away from their family.

The Süddeutsche newspaper reported that the ministry had heightened its warning after two German nationals were held in hospital quarantine for several weeks.

Both had recovered from the coronavirus previously and had tested positive for antibodies, added the report, noting that they were nevertheless forced to undergo medical tests.

The newspaper said the Foreign Ministry had filed protests with the Chinese government over how the two Germans were treated.