For a long period of time, although merchandize made in China has frequently been recalled in other countries, China’s domestic merchandize has seldom been recalled due to poor quality. Not only does China lack the disciplinary mechanism to recall poor quality products, except drugs; China’s merchandize for domestic consumption usually has a safety standard that is lower than international norms. The following is a translation of the report from Voice of America. 
By Sun Feng
January 9, 2008
Although we have seen that outside of China, Chinese made products have frequently been recalled due to poor quality, China’s domestic merchandize seldom faces similar problems. Not only does China lack the disciplinary mechanism to recall poor quality products; China’s merchandize for domestic consumption usually has a safety standard that is lower than international norms.
In May and June of 2007, many countries announced the recall of tainted toothpaste made in China, because it contained the poisonous chemical diethylene glycol (DEG). The very same toothpaste has never been removed from China’s merchandize shelves.
In June of 2007, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a warning that toothpaste imported from China contained more than 4% DEG and warned the public not to use toothpaste made in China.
The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, an organization under China’s State Council, issued a public notice in July 2007 forbidding the use of DEG as a toothpaste ingredient, and banning its export. However, it did not ban the sale of toothpaste with DEG within China. To the contrary, the General Administration specified in this same public notice that toothpaste with less than 15.6% DEG would not harm anyone’s health, and that "consumers do not need to worry too much about their health if they have used this type of toothpaste."
For a long period of time, although merchandize made in China has frequently been recalled in other countries, China’s domestic merchandize has seldom been recalled due to poor quality. Not only does China lack the disciplinary mechanism to recall poor quality products, except drugs; China’s merchandize for domestic consumption usually has a safety standard that is lower than international norms.
Take the auto safety evaluation system as an example. The head-to-head collision standard in the U.S. is 56 kilometers per hour, while it is 50 kilometers per hour in China.
Gao Hongbing, the deputy minister of China’s Ministry of Agriculture admitted on Tuesday that China lagged behind other countries in setting up product standards and that there is still a gap between China and developed countries in this respect.
Wang Hai is the host of Wang Hai Hotline, a "consumers’ rights protection" group. According to Wang, establishing overly low standards for domestic merchandize occurred because no representatives for consumers were present when the standards were drafted.
"Why can’t China’s quality standards be improved?" asked Wang. "The key is, first of all, the standards were set by the leaders of the particular enterprise, with little or no involvement from the general public. In other words, the consumers’ rights protection group has no way to participate in the decision making process. In addition, we have virtually no on to speak for consumer’s interests. In China, there is no organization that truly represents consumers’ interests. The Consumers’ Association is a state-run organization. It can only serve a very limited purpose in protecting consumers. We also lack a third-party inspection organization. The inspection organizations we have are all state-run institutes."
According to Wang Hai, in the battle between consumers and entrepreneurs, the entrepreneurs have considerable resources while consumers have none. The government is usually overly lenient with enterprises, for the sake of economic development. In addition, many of the enterprises are either state-run companies or have government backing. All media outlets are state-run mouthpieces. They do not dare to offend their major advertising clients either.
However, the legal consultant of the Consumer Association of Beijing Qiu Baochang has a different point of view. According to Qiu, it is an inappropriate generalization to say the standards for domestic merchandize are lower and are higher for exports.
"Inside China we have our own standard," Qiu said. "As long as we meet this standard, we do not have any problem selling the product inside China. Of course it remains a question whether China’s domestic standard is the same as those of other countries. Can they ever be exactly the same? I don’t think it is possible to unify the standard, because there are issues like development of the market economy and scientific development."
He also said when drafting the standards the authorities had taken protecting consumers’ interests into consideration.
According to Mao Shoulong, director of the Department of Administration and Management at People’s University, many agricultural produces intended for export are refined goods. They are different from the products for domestic consumption. Although it’s a common belief that the standards for goods for domestic consumption should be improved, he believes that implementing those new standards will encounter many problems.
Mao said, "For example, many of the companies may be forced out of business. This year, the price of food itself is rising sharply. If we factor in the improvement of the processing technique and other investments, as well as training personnel and the management team, the cost will be high. It will bring a huge change to the market. If we cannot adjust to the change, the price may go up 100%, not just the 5%, 10% or 30% that we are experiencing right now. It may bring about some social problems."
Long Yongtu, the current general secretary of the Boao Forum for Asia, was the leading negotiation representative when China joined the WTO. Long also shared his opinion on this subject. He believed there was no need to have two different standards. "We had no other choice when China was a poor country." Long added, "Now things have changed. Chinese civilians’ well-being is as important as that of foreigners."
 Voice of America, January 9, 2008