An extraordinary row has broken out between GE and the Chinese government over the fitness for purpose of GE turbines imported to China for installation in its power stations.

China’s AQSIQ office (General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine), an imports watchdog and enforcement agency responsible directly to the State Council, claimed on 10 August that imported GE E-class gas turbines for power generation have serious quality and safety problems. The claim comes amid mounting tension between China and the United States over the safety of Chinese exports.

ASQIQ said in a press conference that, out of 24 GE gas turbines that had reported faults, several had ‘caused big accidents’ within the past year, which have not only incurred huge economic losses for the users but also threatened the security of China’s power grid and supply system. However, further details of the accidents and supply difficulties do not seem to be available.

Despite the repair work that GE has done on the generators, the problems have persisted this year, most recently in May, the agency said. It halted imports of GE’s PG9171E unit for several months last year after a previous problem.

Xinhua News Agency said the problems had threatened power supplies and quoted an official with the administration as saying China would return or press compensation claims for the turbines.

GE said in a statement that it ‘stood firmly behind its products and services’ and was proud of and confident in the performance of its E-class turbine fleet.

‘There were three forced outages at the Baochang power plant within the last 14 months, all of which were addressed by GE working with the customer and the units are back in service. There have been no other issues at the Baochang power plant reported to date. The outages did not present a safety risk to the operators.

‘GE has 1200 E-Class units installed around the world operating at over 99% reliability, having delivered greater than 34 million hours of power generation.’

China has recently been on the receiving end of well-publicised complaints from the United States and Europe over the safety and hygiene of its exported products, ranging though pet food ingredients, toothpaste, tyres and seafood. Exports of some of the products were blocked and others were recalled by the manufacturers. In one case a US importer, Foreign Tire Sales, is to recall 255000 tyres made by Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber that it says are defective. The New Jersey-based company has been sued by the families of two men who were killed when their van crashed in Pennsylvania on in August last year. The lawsuit says the van had tyres made by HangZhou ZhongCe Rubber. Hangzhou disputes the basis of the claim, saying that FTS is misleading regulators and the public.