The Chinese tyre maker at the centre of a US recall controversy on Wednesday denied that it supplied faulty products and accused its American distributor of making the claim to gain an advantage in a commercial dispute.

US regulators have ordered Foreign Tyre Sales, of Union, New Jersey, to recall up to 450,000 tyres after the company said an unknown number of light truck radials imported from Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber of Hangzhou, China, could suffer tread separation, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

"We have not found the faults cited by FTS," Hangzhou Zhongce told the news agency in a written statement. It added its tyres met US safety standards and FTS' specifications.

Hangzhou Zhongce reportedly accused FTS of making the claims because of a dispute that led the US company to sue its Chinese partner in May.

"We believe this is merely an effort by FTS Co. to stir up a fuss due to this lawsuit," Hangzhou Zhongce told the Associated Press.

FTS, which has imported light truck radials from Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber since 2002, said in an 11 June National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) filing that an unknown number of the tyres it sold were made without a safety feature, called a gum strip, which helps bind the belts to each other. But the company said it couldn't afford to pay for a recall.

FTS was reported to have sued Hangzhou in US District Court last month, charging that its tests found that the tyres may fail early. The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages and an injunction that would bar Hangzhou products from being imported.

The news agency noted that the tyre trouble comes amid safety concerns involving other Chinese products - in recent months, US inspectors have banned or turned away Chinese exports containing high levels of toxins or potentially deadly chemicals, including frozen fish, juice and toothpaste. Chinese wheat gluten tainted with the chemical melamine was blamed for recent dog and cat deaths in North America, AP said, adding that other recent recalls involved Chinese-made children's toys that contained potentially poisonous lead paint.

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