WASHINGTON - "Of tires imported in 2006, 23 percent were imported from China, making China the leading country of origin for imported tires," says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), as reported by Modern Tire Dealer magazine. "In 2000, Chinese tires were just 6 percent of imported tires."

The rise in Chinese tire imports reflects the overall increase in imported tires, according to the agency. "Ten years ago, imports constituted just 19 percent of total tire sales." Last year, according to NHTSA, they comprised some 46 percent.

Nicole Nason, a NHTSA administrator, recently testified before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation regarding the safety of consumer products imported from China.