(By the way, If you haven't seen the crash test of the Chinese Brilliance BS6 sedan, you should watch it. It earned a "one star" rating, the lowest given by the German ADAC.)
Rest assured, we are not witnessing the attempted murder of innocent Westerners by evil slit-eyed Chinese communists -- the Chinese sell the very same products to their own people. As Sachi at Big Lizards notes,
For years, I have heard bits and pieces of news about the terrible pollution and lethal food in China. I heard that the soil of southern China was so contaminated that northern Chinese would not eat any vegetables coming from the South; they called them “poison vegetables." I even heard that some Chinese started bringing their own cooking oil to restaurants after they discovered the chefs using industrial oil to cook food.
In China, environmental pollution is only part of the problem. The Communist legacy of "success at any price" still plagues the Chinese. And the sudden influx of capital into their previously cash-starved economy has created a wide-eyed enthusiasm about manufacturing and selling merchandise that is still largely devoid of an understanding of the combination of quality, service, and price that is fundamental to the success of free market business.
In the former Soviet Union, the quality of merchandise manufactured in state-run factories was so poor that Soviet citizens used American Levi's blue jeans as a form of currency. In Eastern Europe, families often had to wait years for the government to deliver a Trabant - a substandard, unreliable jalopy with a smoke-spewing glorified lawn mower engine for a powerplant. They had no other choice: it was the only automobile that the government made.
As long as "quotas" were met or exceeded, the Communist planners had little reason to concern themselves with the actual reliability of the products or of the safety of those using them. "Burying" the US became the Communist's top priority; the quantity of the goods, not their quality, was the only thing that mattered. Sadly, the only people buried under the weight of inferior and unsafe goods were the masses who resided in Communist nations.
Those of us who live in nations with free market economies have always enjoyed the luxury of choice. When we choose a product, we compare quality, warranty/service, and price. The system isn't perfect; witness the Food and Drug Act of 1907 and the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act of 1938. Those two landmark pieces of legislation were written because unscrupulous manufacturers knowlingly sold items that were prepared in grossly unsanitary conditions or that contained toxic ingredients. But almost without exception, free market companies that disregard public welfare in pursuit of profit suffer enormous financial hardships, and usually end up bankrupt.
Admittedly, China and other third world nations seem to have an immediate advantage with respect to manufacturing costs, since these nations impose very few restrictions on manufacturers. Health and safety requirements at factories are often difficult and costly to implement, and quality assurance testing arguably costs time and resources that could be channeled into production.
But because we are used to choice, these nations will soon learn (perhaps the hard way) that the cheapest products are not always the products that sell the greatest quantities. As environmentally and safety conscious as Americans are, it would be very easy for Chinese products to get pushed by the wayside if they are continually linked to pollution, sickness and injury among consumers, and unsafe working conditions in Chinese factories.
But China's situation is unique in that the technological and managerial expertise necessary to build and maintain safe, environmentally-friendly factories that produce high quality, reliable products already exists, and the bulk of it was developed by the US. To use it or not to use it is solely their choice.
As things stand today, there is a 10 ton elephant standing in the midst of the world market. It has the ability to either trample everything in its path, or carry the world forward on its broad shoulders. And it speaks Chinese.