Since 2009, China has been the largest exporter of goods in the world.
In 2013, the Chinese overtook the United States as the largest trading nation on the planet, with some estimates suggested they exported nearly $2.5B (USD) of goods to the world.
In many cases, the quality of goods from China, not to mention value for money, means they are the preferred option for most consumers.
From electrical goods to cars (they boast the biggest new car market on earth), “Made in China” is not something to be feared.
However when it comes to supplements, they have some way to go.
Bodybuilding in China, despite popular belief, actually dates back to the 1930s, a decade before the likes of Bill Pearl and the Weider brothers (Joe and Bill) began their impact in America.
The origins of bodybuilding in China came from Guangzhou, but the Communist Party and then chairman Zhao Zhuguang were against the sport and officially banned it in 1953.
While Larry Scott, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sergio Oliva and Franco Columbo were bringing bodybuilding into the global consciousness, China remained isolated until Chairman Mao’s ban was lifted some three decades later.
It wasn’t until 1985 that China became a member of the International Bodybuilding Federation.
However to this day, supplements in China are not quality controlled.
This could apply to all supplements, being classified as “food” in many countries which means they are not subject to the tough regulatory scrutiny seen in the United States and Australia.
America and the “Made in the USA” label are seen as the supplement benchmark.
It may sounds slightly xenophobic, but it is the quality controls in regards to manufacturing the items that gives the States the edge.
A global supply chain of supplements results in issues with:
- Companies cutting corners with cheap/unregulated labour
- Misrepresented ingredients and/or concentrations
- Adulteration cases
- Counterfeit ingredients
- Food safety issues
In China, most of their vitamin and supplement production areas are among the most polluted in the world.
In Zhejiang, one of China’s leading vitamin exporting provinces, the levels of soil pollution from heavy metal present major risks when it comes to human consumption.
The sheer size and scale of China’s population makes it difficult for the governments at all levels to effectively police farming and other rural activities.
Abundant qualities of rice in China for example have been found to be contaminated with excessive amounts of Cadmium, a metal commonly found in batteries.
It is however water which is the major issue.
Over half of China’s major water bodies are polluted, and there is such excessive pollution in the cities that it is considered unusable.
Some 70 to 80 percent of the nation’s industrial waste is directly emitted into rivers and streams.
It is easy to consider the statement “Chinese supplements are plain inferior” racist.
It is probably more accurate to say that the lack of quality control when it comes to their manufacturing processes can result in health concerns.
The Chinese government is tackling the problem, with water quality in major waterways including the Yellow, Huai, Yangtze and Pearl rivers improving.
However northeastern Chinese waterways including the Liao and Songhua were found to have worse water quality than when previously tests.
Nearly 10% of water tested was considered “below grade V” which means it cannot be used in either agriculture or industry.
In a popular study by Richard Kreider, PhD, a wide ranging test on Creatine Monohydrate was conducted.
It was revealed that US produced Creatine averaged 100-400 ppm (parts per million) of Dicyandiamide.
The Chinese equivalent tested at 18,000 ppm.