The recall will affect nearly 273,000 models built by BMW's joint venture with Chinese manufacturer Brilliance Automotive and more than 87,000 imported BMW cars, China's State Administration for Market Regulation said.
The agency said in statement posted on its website late Tuesday that a defect could cause the airbags to eject debris at passengers if deployed.
It did not mention any specific incidents caused by the BMW-installed airbags.
The suspect parts will be replaced for free, the notice said.
The BMW announcement came as global carmakers were gathered for the Shanghai Auto Show amid a rare sales slump in the world's largest vehicle market.
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