China's Commerce Ministry is investigating Chinese companies that produced and exported the toys that the U.S. company Mattel says are unsafe. Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing.

China's Commerce Ministry said Thursday that the manufacturers and exporters of the toys sent to Mattel would not be allowed to operate until their products were deemed safe.

Mattel, the leading U.S. toy company, this week extended a recall to more than 18 million toys made in China. Mattel says the toys had two safety problems: unsafe amounts of lead paint, which can cause serious bodily damage, or small magnets that children could choke on.

Commerce Ministry spokesman Wang Xinpei repeated the Chinese authorities' often-used defense in such cases, saying the majority of China's toy exports are safe, and the media are exaggerating the extent of the problem.

"Why is there some bias against Chinese-made products, or a belief that 'made in China' is bad? There are some media or irresponsible people taking small problems, without any basis, and applying them to other products or all Chinese products," the spokesman said.

Wang says in 2006, the Chinese toy industry's exports were worth $7 billion, and amounted to 70 percent of world toy exports.