Hosts and medal hopefuls Britain had been disqualified in the first round for another illegal changeover.
Gong Jinjie and Guo Shuang sped round the London Olympic velodrome like lightning in the qualifying and first round, notching world best times of 32.447 and 32.422 seconds.
They were slower in the final but it was still good enough to beat Germany until officials stepped in some minutes after the end of the race to say Guo had made a mistake on the changeover.
China were therefore bumped down to silver amid angry remonstrations between their team and International Cycling Union officials.
Australia took bronze by beating Ukraine and by the time of the medals ceremony, the Chinese duo had calmed down and accepted the warm applause of the slightly bemused crowd before Germany's golds were handed out.
Britain were not afforded the luxury of being dropped a position as Victoria Pendleton and Jessica Varnish were disqualified altogether in the first round for individual Olympic champion Pendleton's error in taking the lead over too soon.
"We're talking about one hundredth of a second of a mistake there," Pendleton told reporters.
"Jess moved up a fraction too early and I just saw the door and went for it, because that's my cue to try to squeeze underneath her as quickly as possible.
"It's one of those things that happens."