More than 20 percent of the toys made and then sold in China are substandard, according to the country's top quality watchdog.
Some toys made by small factories are even potentially dangerous, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) said in a report.
The report was based on a nationwide investigation into 105 types of Chinese-made toys sold in the domestic market. The investigation involved 53 plastic toys, 13 wooden toys, 29 dolls, six paper and magic toys, as well as four shooting toys.
The watchdog said none of the four shooting toys were up to standard because the safety features could easily be torn off and the toys could still shoot. The toys could also shoot other objects, such as pencils, without being modified.
Some other toys had similar problems, or contained small parts that could be swallowed, or had sharp edges that could potentially injure children, it added.
Media also reported over the weekend that industrial waste, including dirty carpet fluff, paper and used instant-noodle packaging, had been found stuffed inside toys made by factories in North China's Hebei Province and sold at low prices nationwide.
"These stuffed toys are laced with bacteria and possibly even viruses, which could cause rashes after even just short-term exposure. They could even cause diseases over the long term," the China Central Television report quoted doctors as saying.
There have been numerous reports of children being injured by substandard toys. Official figures show that there are at least 10,000 such cases in the country every year.
China is the world's largest exporter of toys, sending more than $5 billion worth to the United States alone in 2005.
However, the US and European Union have both expressed concern about the safety of certain made-in-China toys.
This month alone, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled about 200,000 pieces of Chinese-made children's jewelery after high levels of lead were found in them, and the European Union issued a warning about Chinese-made rattles after a child in Ireland cut his mouth on a sharp edge.
But the AQSIQ made it clear that it did not examine toys destined for export.
"Because of different safety standards, exported toys are usually much better quality than those sold at home," Liang Mei, executive vice-president of the China Toy Association, said in an interview.
The AQSIQ last year said it would ban the sale of toys that failed to pass a national compulsory safety standard starting next month.
Recent AQSIQ inspections also found that some baby clothes contained chemicals that could cause skin problems, and about 5 percent of baby milk powder tested was of poor quality.
Song Ping, the mother of a one-year-old daughter, said the results were terrifying.
"I can only choose brand name toys and clothes. At least the quality is guaranteed," she said.
(China Daily May 29, 2007)