BEIJING (Kyodo) China denied Tuesday there was any political motive behind the screening of SK-II brand beauty products imported from Japan, whose sales have been halted since the discovery of two banned substances.

“The decision China has made is in line with standards and objective facts,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said.

The state-owned Xinhua News Agency reported that authorities have found that 12 SK-II products imported from Japan contained chromium and neodymium.

Following the reports, Chinese consumers have flocked to department stores to return the products.

The Japan unit of U.S. consumer products group Procter & Gamble Co. said last week that while it does not see any quality problems, it is temporarily stopping sales of the SK-II products in mainland China, citing “confusion among consumers.”

Since then, Hong Kong and mainland Chinese media have reported that U.S. and European brand beauty products also contain the substances, which under European and Japanese guidelines are considered safe in small amounts.

The dispute has prompted speculation that strict screening measures may have been implemented in retaliation for Japan’s tightened action against pesticides that was believed to have been a factor behind a major dip in exports of agricultural items from China to Japan in June.

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