China bans Renault!?

This morning, Automotive News reported that China’s quality inspection agency has banned the import of several Renault models for what it calls “serious safety risks.” Is this the twilight zone?

I had to look at the calendar to see if today was actually April Fool’s day. It’s not.;So apparently, this is real. Get this — the Chinese General Administration of Quality Supervision Inspection and Quarantine said:

“In recent import inspections, we have repeately found batches of passenger vehicles made by the French Renault… do not conform with our country’s mandatory standards and relevant technical regulations, and there are serious safety risks.”

Renault, not surprisingly, said something along the lines of “ooh-la-la… quelle surprise!” but what they obviously wanted to say was “are you kidding me?”

Safety standards? In China? Come on. I’m thrilled that the Chinese auto market is growing so quickly, but I’m horrified by the country’s general lack of regard for safety. [Remember the Brilliance models that the German ADAC crash tested?] And now they’re banning the import of the Renault Laguna, Scenic, Megane, and Megane CC for not conforming to their safety standards? Why, because they’re too safe?

I’m sorry to sound like a skeptic, but this sounds like there’s a whole lot more going on here. This just reeks of government interference for reasons other than the safety of its citizens. Someone needs to figure out what’s really going on here. Where’s Kitman when you need him?