Made in China


Remember when “Made In China” simply meant “cheap and poor quality” rather than “frickin’ dangerous?”


  1. Formaldehyde it’s not just for embalming any more. The safety problems affecting Chinese goods spread from toys to textiles on Monday as New Zealand said it would investigate allegations that imported children’s clothes contained dangerous levels of formaldehyde. The government ordered the probe after scientists hired by a consumer watchdog programme discovered formaldehyde in Chinese clothes at levels of up to 900 times regarded as safe. Manufacturers sometimes apply formaldehyde to clothes to prevent mildew. It can cause skin rashes, irritation to the eyes and throat and allergic reactions. The Warehouse, a New Zealand retailer, issued a recall at the weekend for children’s pyjamas made in China after two children were burned when their flannelette nightclothes caught fire. The New Zealand investigation is the first time that the safety of Chinese clothes has been called into question; concerns have been raised over a series of Chinese products in recent months, including toys, food and toothpaste. Last week, Mattel said it was recalling 18.2m toys globally because of hazards such as the use of lead paint. The latest concerns came as Li Changjiang, head of China’s safety watchdog, claimed the product safety scares were ‘a new trend of trade protectionism’, and accused some governments of ‘demonising China’s products’.

  2. It is really irrelevant now whether Chinese goods have flaws or not. I am sure they will improve and over time they will probably make safe, reliable goods. I am also quite sure they will be given the time necessary to make such improvements. Unlike a normal, competitive business environment, there are not many competitors waiting to take business away from China. Since a significant number of factories have closed and relocated to China, the world will just have to wait it out for the Chinese to get their act straight. They have made too big an investment there to just close shop.

  3. The quality of Chinese goods certainly has skyrocketed – some of it, anyway. I’m not surprised that safety (especially of the Chinese workers!) has suffered. I heard that the factories where they make fluorescent lights there don’t handle the mercury very carefully…

  4. Have you been reading Popular Science, Spacey? In many ways, this is similar to the path industrial powerhouses like Japan and South Korea have taken. China has gone from making only cheap, toss-away goods, like budget toys and portable CD players, to creating alternatives to nearly every one of the West’s most admired brands. But China is unique in that–as with its modernization in general–it’s doing so at an accelerated pace, going from shoddy to quality in little more than a decade. Isn’t it nice that we didn’t learn anything from having our automobile industry decimated by the Japanese? Now we can have the rest of our industries decimated by the communist Chinese. It’s a good thing there aren’t any patriots left in this country or someone might get pissed.

  5. dfens, I hadn’t seen that article, but I got the gist of it through observations and other articles. It was no surprise to me. Japan, S. Korea and now China all built or are building themselves up with an export-based economy which means they minize imports and maximize exports. Hence, they are practitioners of neo mercantilism, not free trade. In the case of Japan and later S. Korea, it made sense for the US to put up with their behavior. At the time we had a huge lead on the rest of the world and our primary concern was stopping the spread of communism. There was a real threat that W. Europe, Japan and S. Korea could fall internally to communist parties if their economies did not ramp up. So we accepted role of world’s importer. I don’t think the intent was to lose our industry to those nations, just to prevent them going red. I remember as a kid adults making fun of cheap, plastic toys that were made in Japan. I remember laughing about how on Earth Rodney King could elude police in a 100 mph chase in a Hyundai POS. But no one is laughing now. Japan makes quality goods and S. Korea dominates shipbuilding and is moving up to more elaborate cars. It will be the same with China. In fact they look to Japan and S. Korea as models. One example is the large company that spans many industries. Traditionaly the US had anti-trust provisions and had an aversion to giant companies running every business. But Japan and S. Korea rely on a handful of companies to dominate their economy. For example Mitsubishi makes or owns just about anything you can think of from cars, to F-15Js, to ships to real estate and banking. Japan and S. Korea are willing to have these types of entities in exchange for social and economic stability. China will probably follow suit with its state run industries. What makes China’s rise painful is, first, they are the communist. Second, we no longer have a lead over other nations that we can afford to piss away. Third, we have already seen this story at least twice before. Finally, for all those rooting for American commercial aviation in its epic struggle against the European consortium, get ready for Airbus China-style. It seems the Chinese are going to start building commercial jets by 2020. I wonder how on Earth they accumulated the know-how to do this.

  6. HI there, I am surprised noone linke to the Chinese engineered Chery crash test videos. Voila! The ‘driver’ dummy in this mid speed test was carted away in pieces. I would be able to walk away in MINI Cooper S in a similar test.