A Complete Guide for Importers on China Quality Control


ISS_11900_03686.jpgAs per the data obtained from Statista, 28.7% of global manufacturing came from China as compared with 16.8% from the USA. China is today one of the largest manufacturing countries in the world.

Also, if you are involved in manufacturing, trading, or importing, then it is quite likely that you also must be purchasing products from China

When you are dealing with China to source any product, it is extremely important that you must ensure that your items meet all your specifications and must comply with the quality standards that you have set.

Only good China quality control and inspection can help you to achieve this. It is one of the most essential processes to avoid any defective items.

Once you have made your full payment, you will have absolutely no control, if you discover any quality issues after the items have arrived in your country.

Your Chinese supplier may not take any responsibility and hence it is your duty to ensure that all your products are perfectly matching all your technical specifications and quality requirements.

Why factory quality control is not sufficient for Chinese products?

In China, the factory quality control inspection is done by the internal factory staff and not by any external inspectors. This kind of inspection may be good enough if the value of the item is not very high such as promotional products from China.

But if you are importing any high-value professional-grade item then depending on factory quality control can be too risky. The following are a few reasons for that.

1. Cultural barriers often contribute to misunderstandings

One of the biggest reasons is the communication problems that create a misunderstanding. This is caused due to cultural barriers.

Initially, you may fail to recognize this problem while communicating with them as the Chinese supplier will agree and cooperate with all your requests.

This kind of behaviour is rooted in their culture which may hurt your business which you will realize when it is too late. In China, workers are trained in such a way that they will always follow whatever their boss will instruct them without asking any questions or doubts.

Also, while discussing with you they will hesitate to ask you questions about your product requirements as they fear that you will think that they lack experience.

You may assume that you have cleared all their doubts, but chances are that they are not clear about your specifications which you discover in the end.

Therefore, you must always do the following:

  • Provide your requirements about your products clearly in writing

  • Ask your supplier directly what have they understood

  • Be proactive and arrange pre-shipment inspection

You cannot expect your Chinese supplier will take any initiative and notify you if any issues ever arise.

2. Conflicts of interest

Another very common problem with any China quality control by factory QC staff is an inherent conflict of interests. Your priority may be getting your product produced at the right price to meet the quality standard so that your customers remain happy.

On the other hand, the factory owner and also their QC staff are more concerned with manufacturing the product as cheaply and also as quickly as possible.

3. Factory QC staff lack adequate training/testing equipment

Also, you will find that most of the QC staff in the Chinese factory are not adequately trained in handling QC equipment. Many of them may not be knowledgeable about the production process too.

Due to all these reasons, you cannot fully trust the China quality control system.


Why quality check is essential? 

1. Guarantees quality production of goods

By implementing both QA and QC, you can make a positive impact on your quality and adherence to your specifications.

2. Minimises variations in production

During manufacturing, process variations may happen in the items. Once you are clear about the underlying reasons, you can take steps and checks during your QA processes to reduce such variations.

3. Reduces your losses

By performing QC checks, you can reduce the defects, which may not be worth selling. The more you get defective pieces more losses you make.  

4. Leads to consumer retention

If you have developed your market segment by supplying quality products already, then it is essential that you must retain your market by ensuring good quality.

If you try to supply items of lower quality, even at a considerably lower price, you are then risking losing your market segment.  

5. Increased consumer satisfaction

With proper QC inspection, you can assure and showcase to all your customers that you are always upholding the quality that was expected from the products that you are supplying them. If you also offer any certifications or accreditations then you can increase their satisfaction.

There is a direct correlation existed between assuring them of good quality and also, they remain your loyal customer.

When should you inspect your products?

The least that you can do is get your products inspected just before the shipment before releasing the balance payment. However, it will be better to consider quality inspection during production.

Inspecting during production will enable you to detect faults (if any) during production so that you can address quality issues much earlier.

For any high order volume with a higher value of the order, it is imperative to go for QC inspection both during production as well as during pre-shipment.

Who can help you with your QC inspection services in China?

1. Manufacturer QC system

This approach we have already discussed before and explained the various pitfalls of this option. However, if you have developed enough confidence in the capability of the QC system of the manufacturer, then this can be one approach.

2. Trading or sourcing partner 

If you have any China sourcing companies in cooperation, then he can organize this activity. Since your sourcing partner will not like to lose his business in the future and also like to maintain a good reputation, hence you can expect your sourcing partner a better alternative. 

3. Third-party inspection services available in China

Another option is that you can explore any reputable third-party China inspection service.  As they are not working on behalf of a supplier hence you can expect them to be neutral and unbiased.

However, you need to closely monitor them.

4. Self-inspection

The last option is you send your own team to do a quality inspection however, it will be an expensive option.

Things that you should include in your QC checklist

Before you place your order, you must have an extensive discussion on your product requirements. You must create a detailed QC checklist. It needs to summarize all the essential product requirements and various quality standards that the supplier will need.


The following are a few quality parameters that you must include in the China quality control checklist:

1. Product requirements

Height, weight, material, and a few other aspects

2. Packaging and labelling

Ensure accurate packaging and labelling which are essential compliance requirements. Some products must be confirmed and labelled by any certified labs. 

3. Visual inspection

Conducting on-site product visual checks as a part of your QC checklist to inform your supplier that this should happen. 

4. Defect classification

There must be 3 defect classifications during QC inspections:

  • Critical

  • Major

  • Minor

Always provide them with an approved product sample, images, or videos, to the quality control inspector.

5. Functional testing

You must outline your guidelines for testing your product's use or function. 

6. Special tests

For certain products, like pharmaceuticals or chemicals, a specimen must be sent to any lab to determine their quality based on your guidelines. 

7. Carton drop test

This is necessary to check the strength and durability of the packaging before your goods are transported. 

What you want to see in a quality control report

1. Product quantity

The report must tell the number of the finished products offered by the supplier to the inspector.

2. Visual defects

These will be all visible defects on the product/packaging. The maximum acceptable defect number will be determined by the tolerance level of the defect on the QC checklist.

Inspector must reject if it fails to meet the permissible limit.

3. Conformity to requirements

These results will confirm that your goods meet the requirements of quality control.

If the inspector discovers anything that failed to meet then the same will be noted in the final inspection report.

4. On-site tests and checks

Based on your product, this might be necessary to determine adherence to requirements. After conducting a quality control inspection, the inspector generates a report that covers all the categories.


As a businessman, perhaps you must have invested enough time and money to set up your import business. Also, you have done hard work to make your business plan by analysing the market ’and selecting an appropriate product and its Chinese supplier.

Having gone through this much, don’t allow your QC system to make your downfall.

Any new endeavour will inevitably make blunders. After all, that is a step in the learning process. However, taking shortcuts with your China quality control system, such as depending on factory workers for inspection, can quickly undo all your hard work.

You will be able to satisfy your clients with better products and grow your business to new heights with pre-shipment inspections performed by someone outside the plant.

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