Does “made in China” stand for cheap and of poor quality?

June 23, 2016 15:44
Made-in-China products can vary significantly in quality. As a rule, you get what you pay for. Photo: internet

China is a huge exporter and boasts a large trade surplus.

At the same time, examples of the appalling quality of products made in China frequently hit the news.

So, what is the verdict on the world’s factory?

Debates on the internet may shed some light.

The conclusion pretty much boils down to the simple rule: you get what you pay for.

China certainly produces some top-notch, world-class gadgets.

Most iPhone users would agree.

Typically, when a mainland Chinese factory makes products under a foreign brand names, the quality is better, as brand owners specify the standards that they want met.

“Laptop chargers nowadays are all made in China, regardless of the brand,” one netizen said.

“Just look at all the symbols of compliance with standards (CE, UL, GS, etc.). It's the world's stamp of approval for Chinese products.”

There is more.

China’s trains have become so good that even Germany’s Deutsche Bahn is reported to be considering buying them, starting with trains and locomotives for regional lines.

With a large domestic market that helps keep costs down, the Chinese train industry is well positioned to take on entrenched players from France, Germany or Japan.

Then, there are, of course, loads of cheap items.

“Why do we see so many cheap made-in-China products in the US market? Because consumers want them,” another netizen wrote.

“The Chinese will make whatever quality you need, from absolutely garbage to absolutely first-class.”

If you are willing to pay for quality, you are going to get more rigorous quality control.

"If you need them cheap, cheap quality is what you get," a blogger who refers to himself as an inventor wrote.

Yet in a huge country with an enormous range of manufacturers, some black sheep are bound to exist, and that is why we hear news about made-in-China batteries blowing up or electronics catching fire.

The inconsistency in quality may, in part, be rooted in the incentive system.

“I met with a lot of good, knowledgable and capable professionals,” said a sourcing expert who has worked with Chinese firms for more than 15 years.

"They had low pay and no incentive to improve and perfect processes.

"The lack of initiative could never sustain an effective continuous improvement program needed to produce materials of consistently high quality."

Quite a few local brands are also known for their total disrespect for intellectual rights.

Worse still, many copy only the design and look of devices but not the guts inside.

Chinese firms are also notorious for trying to boost market share by undercutting their rivals in price.

To save cost and stay in profit, quality is compromised.

In sum, mainland brands can vary a lot, and buyers are advised to choose their purchases with care.

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EJ Insight writer