Reply by Tennessee

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Posted on Made in China

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2901 posts in 3077 days

#1 posted 06-01-2012 06:32 PM

Having lived in China for 16 months on a daily basis, and worked with their people shoulder to shoulder on a daily basis, I agree with a1Jim, Loren and Doss.
I drove a Buick while in China, made in Shanghai under the guidance of American Engineers. It had a four cylinder, turbo-charged, fuel injected engine, and was an absolutely great car that got great gas mileage. No catylitic converter on it, but the Chinese think differently than us, they think in terms of efficient burning of the fuel as an emmission control. They are wrong, but it ran great the whole time I was there and the next guy behind me praised it also. Doggone thing had an analog clock in the dashboard that actually worked!

On the other hand, all of us ex-pats used to say that things made by the Chinese people, for the Chinese people were not so hot. And we were right. I bought a bicycle while I was there, a 24 speed unit with three baskets, 27”, all the bells and whistles for $125 American. Some Korean owned company. When you hit the front brake the tolerance on the front fork was so bad you always had the creepy feeling that the front wheel was going to go under you. And more than once I had a brake bracket snap off while stopping. You could buy a single speed bicycle over there for $18 American, brand new. Last you about 10 months, unless it got stolen first.

I worked for a furniture manufacturer, and I can safely say that the Chinese are copycats, not improvers like the Koreans and Japanese, not innovators like Northern Europe and the United States. They have little concept of how to make or improve anything, probably a direct result of a couple thousand years of feudal rule, then 35 years of Mao, and still another ten years of finally settling down into a sort of Socialist-Communist state. So they have been exposed to our technologies only since about 1988.

They want what we want, but they want it in their style. A Kentucky Fried Chicken breast in Shanghai is about 3 ozs., not the 6-8 ounce giant we get in the US. And it will come with Chinese sauces. But a Big Mac is still a Big Mac. You can buy Lays Potato chips in Shanghai, but they don’t taste anywhere the same, and you can get flavors like shrimp, and soy sauce. I couldn’t buy some things, like shoes. I wear a 12, and no Chinese person has a foot that big, at least they don’t stock for it.

China is capable of making fine products. Really fine. We made good furniture and our covers were milled very well. Leather is a problem in China since they don’t know about plastic fence, and they all still use barb wire, which screws up the leather when the cow scratches itself. They do make wonderful stringed instruments, with some factories being over 1000 years old, such as Shanghai Instrument Company #1. That’s why they make such good guitars.
But I have a TAG Heuer Tiger Woods knockoff watch that I’ve fooled many people with. I’m probably on my fourth or fifth battery now. Great watch. I own Tommy Bamaha shirts that were made on what they call a “ghost shift”. The factory shuts down, then another bunch of people come in at night, and make shirts out of the remaining cloths on the same machines, for sale in the famous Shanghai market, which is now in a beautiful indoor building in Shanghai, since the world could see them in the old outdoor market and kept complaining about it since every tourist and ex-pat visited it and spent money on famous knockoffs. I paid about $7-10 a shirt, and they even came with the real hangtags. Still available in Shanghai, in the Hongshen district…just need an airplane ticket.
So they are capable if they are guided, but left alone, they make pretty much junk.
Our problem is we want the $49 microwave, and you just cannot build that inside the US.

But things are changing fast. The Chinese government has mandated wage increases twice a year for about 8 years now. So back in 2006, when the Chinese worker was making .56 an hour, everybody was happy. Now they make $4.00 an hour, and companies are starting to look at the labor cost, the shipping/fuel issues, and further transportation, especially for East Coast people in the US. Reshoring is happening here, (not so much Europe), and if too much manufacturing leaves China, their economy will not support itself and they could have 200-250 MILLION people unemployed. (Total population of China is over 1,400,000,000) There are NO Fortune 100 Chinese built and owned companies, just millions of little mom and pops, and all the foreign investment which is what really holds up the Chinese economy. If that goes, that is probably when they start thinking of taking over another country…

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

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