Rethinking "Made in China"

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This post is aimed at all you sinophobes out there.
I'm getting a little tired of hearing the complaint "___ is a piece of shit: what do you expect? It's made in China!".
Now it is true that a lot of crap--boatloads of it, literally--does come from that great country. We've all seen it, used it, chucked it out.
But bear in mind the historical precedent: some of you are probably old enough to remember the similar tarring of anything that had the label "Made in Japan" on it. Anything Japanese was considered worthless. Compare to today.
I'm finding more and more that "Made in China" really doesn't mean anything about the quality of an item. Clearly, Chinese workers, as underpaid as they may be, are quite capable of making anything as well as anyone else in any other part of the world.
Part of the problem is that we're placing blame in the wrong place. The *real* problem seems to be "Made in [anyplace] but designed in the U.S. [or some other place]". A lot, if not most, of what I would call "Chinese junk" is actually made as well as the design would allow for, including the materials used and the amount of labor committed to finishing the item. So in many cases Chinese factories are making faithful copies of a shitty design that may well have come from some designer's computah right here in The Greatest Industrial Power on Earth (the US of A).
I predict the Chinese are following the same arc that the Japanese did after WWII, with variations, of course; there's no Marshall Plan, and the countries are vastly different. Nonetheless, I can forsee the day when "Made in China" is no longer a call for derision.
By way of showing just how wrong people can be when predicting who's winning the industrial game, here's a hilariously and astoundingly wrong prediction about the Japanese and American photographic industries from 1946: http://rick_oleson.tripod.com/index-136.html
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On 12/16/2009 01:39 PM, David Nebenzahl wrote:

True.
However, going by various comments written by people in the industry, there also seems to be a cultural impetus to try and push the lower boundaries of the quality standards. So if a Chinese factory contracts for a given level of quality there is a tendency for that level to drop over time unless the company that hired them keeps on top of things.
I suspect this holds true to a certain extent in many places, but he impression that I have gotten (from various places) is that this is worse when dealing with Chinese manufacturers.
Chris
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Chris Friesen wrote:

Not only Chinese, that is human nature. You have to be vigilant on quality.
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David Nebenzahl wrote:

You mean like drywall, C-Less' "64GB USB Drive", and the stuff at Harbor Fright?
A rose by any other name ...
Fuck China, and "Made in USA", for that matter ... I'm buying "European" like Laguna, Festool, Omer, et al products every chance I get these days.
I want value for what few of my hard earned $$ I get to keep, not some price point engineered POS with an advertising budget.
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On 12/16/2009 02:09 PM, Swingman wrote:

Funny you mention Laguna...some of their stuff is made in China.
What about Lie-Nielsen and Starrett? Or General and Veritas and Oneway from Canada?
Chris
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I suspect Tiawan, I could be wrong. Also Bulgaria, and Italy.
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You got something Italian on order again? Lagu....
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Swingman wrote:

Made U.S.A. Made in EU" Really? 100%? Economy stands on bottom line these days. You can't fuck China, she is too big/powerful now.
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"Tony Hwang" wrote:

You don't usually fuck your banker or a big customer.
Lew
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A more apt analogy for China is our national cocaine dealer.
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Tony Hwang wrote:

When "she" starts making quality, innovative, well engineered tools like Festool does I'll start buying Chinese. Until then, in a tool buying sense, fuck China, and the US also ... just in case you think there is discrimination involved.
People who work with their hands know the difference ... keep that in mind.
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Swingman wrote:

I am not Chinese, LOL!
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Tony Hwang wrote:

I thought you were a Canuck, eh?
TDD
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David Nebenzahl wrote:

Anyone who wants to sell anything in a competing market has to make it as cheaply as can be done in Mexico, China, Bangladesh, etc....what they make is done under an entirely different labor economy (and socialized medicine, probably). But you know that already.

China" in our prayers (hadn't discovered Africa yet). Just to show how times have changed.....just the other day, this wonderful, sweet missionary knocked on our door. He handed me $5, a bag of rice and a dead duck. He didn't speak clear English, but left a pamphlet in Chinese and badly translated English inviting all of the neighborhood children to Buddhist services. It also mentioned that all the neighborhood children would be welcome at classes to learn to speak and write Chinese, gardening, raising livestock, building inexpensive housing, cooking with a wok, using alternative fuels, and respect for elders. It also said that the Chinese had saved so much money, they were buying America and sending homesteaders over to run the country properly. ;o)
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THIS PART is the best.....

Seems like this has already happened with the Japanese and Germans
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On 2009-12-16 16:12:26 -0500, " snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net"

This is called marketing to a price point. One interesting extension to this is Fender guitars -- how much to you want to pay for your Strat? Indonesian, Chinese, Korean, Mexican, or American?
From the audience, they all look pretty much the same*. But to the experienced player...
*Except for the ones "lovingly" aged, that is, and you'll pay dearly for someone beatin' the Hell out of your axe.
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Steve wrote:

Much worse than that, with regard to quality, is 'engineering to a price point".
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Steve wrote:

Discerning hands and ears can tell. Actually real good hands can make any axe sound good but it is more difficult. Only poor craftsman blames the tool. BTW, I have quite a few vintage LP, Fender, Gibson, Martin, etc. and Marshall, Fender, Boogie, etc. in my basement studio.
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Tony Hwang wrote:

Well said ...
Only poor craftsman blames

Cool ... my main axe is a '61 Fender Jazz.
Just for grins, some "American engineering" ... :)
http://www.e-woodshop.net/images/61Fender.jpg
...and it sounds like this:
http://www.wildriverband.com/Media/Let Me Go Home Whiskey.wma
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snip
Snip
Only poor craftsman blames the tool.
Oh crap! I have heard the me too expression way too many times now.
Really and truly a poor craftsman "does not recognize" that he is not working with quality tools. A fine craftsman will remedy that situation with quality work through quality tools.
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