I’ve lived in China for 4 years and I speak Chinese well enough to have heard and understood this report on Chinese television.
This story is true. I just cut open one of my own hair bands and found a condom inside. See pictures here:
This story has already been verified by several news agencies in China and abroad, and now has been verified by me. One thing I want to say straight off is that it doesn’t matter whether or not these condoms are used or simply defective ones that are being repurposed. The very idea puts me off, and since there’s no way to tell one way or the other, why not simply chuck the things out?
A couple of other points need to be addressed. First, the obvious idea that it would cost more to gather the condoms and recycle them than one would earn by selling the finished product. Likely, this is not exactly true: when Westerners think of “recycling” they think of a long involved process by which disease is eliminated and the final product does not resemble whatever you began with. In China, cutting corners is a national pastime, and it is quite possible that every shortcut has been taken in the production of these things in order to save a few cents. Proper recycling and sanitizing equipment and facilities (not to mention health inspections) cost money, and it is simpler to cut this step out. If indeed these are made of recycled condoms, it is very likely that they were merely washed.
Case in point: I used to smoke the cheapest menthol cigarettes in town. Then a couple of times, I came across my brand, but completely fake (you could tell by examining the printing on the package, and the taste was horrid). Now, these cigarettes are so cheap that it would seem ridiculous to fake them, because the profit would be literally mere cents. However, when one doesn’t care AT ALL about quality, there is a decent amount of money to be made.
Second, I must reiterate that the Chinese national pastime is making money and cutting corners. No matter what the consequences. I would like to direct your attention to the recent rash of lead-painted toys and so on, but those are not my primary examples because those are exports. Nay, they also do this kind of thing to their own people. I have consumed fake beer containing formaldehyde, I purchased cheap Bandaids which were made using waste gauze from hospital garbage. The gauze had been washed and then dyed yellow to give the impression that it was a “medicated” Bandaid. I was here when dozens of babies died of malnutrition in the south because someone was producing and selling fake dried milk formula that consisted of little more than potato flour, and in my city recently, there was a bug hullabaloo over a couple of dumpling restaurants which were incorporating shredded CARDBOARD into the filling for their dumplings in order to save on meat.
I’ve lived here for a long time. I’m engaged to a Chinese person. I’ve lived in several different cities, met all kinds of people, and I am deeply involved in Chinese society. I research my news and I am aware of the biases in Chinese reporting, and the points of view that overseas news agencies report with. I do not draw my conclusions from a small, insignificant sampling of people and situations. With that being said, I find it hard NOT to believe most of the horrible things I read about China.