Calling on the Chinese cooking experts...
I really like this recipe of cold sesame noodles from the New York Times:
I follow the recipe except I add more cucumber (preferably Japanese or Persian) and I also add some chopped cilantro and chopped green onion. (I omit the chopped peanuts and much prefer Trader Joe's peanut butter to the Skippy brand -- compare the ingredients.)
The recipe calls for "chili garlic PASTE" and I've looked in a few Chinese grocery stores here in San Francisco. The only one I've found that says "paste" is "fried chili paste", Lee brand. It is way too hot! Instead of 2 teaspoons, I think 1/2 of 1 teaspoon is plenty. Do they mean sauce, instead? I've bought, but not yet tried, "chili garlic sauce" from Lee Kum Kee.
Let's just say, not all chili paste is equally hot. Just adjust the chili to your liking. As for your question, i don't think it would be a matter of life and death if you use chili paste vs chilic sauce. However, the recipe is not inccorect to ask for chili paste.