22 January 2011

Chinese shit quality myth

There are general myths going round and around the internet cokelaw as many people put it that China can't engineer jack shit. I mean we've all been there we buy something made in China and it breaks incredibly quickly. My dad for instance went through 5 or 6 of these in one day.

A generic cheapo tin opener which you can buy for 50p (30cents $) in evilmart Walmart. Which made him get angry and throw the last one through the window (breaking the glass) where it put a huge scratch on his car.... he was in a bad mood all day from that until his horse came in. At which all was forgiven..... though this reminds me of my uncle who won the lottery once. He won the top prize. Having been unhappy working in hot food for decades and sacrificed all of his dreams (I'm not so silly). He proceeded to demolish his kitchen and smash everything to little itsy pieces. He did a lot of damage.... it was then announced that several hundred people had won and the prize money was less than the damage he had done to the kitchen heh.

Anyway back on topic.

It is often said China can't engineer jack shit. Media portrayal of things does not help either. For example this story. Whereby in Shanghai and entire building simply fell over.... though what is curious is that the building is pretty much intact the glass and the drapes are still there.

But then again..

China's version here


Or the big ominous cracks appearing in the 3 Gorges dam. This kind of stuff.

The thing is western nations have similar screw ups as well, British rail transport for instance has been subject to many many crashes. Or they way WE in the UK make bad things too.

Similar to

There is a long list here. Also biased news makes things seem much worse. For example Toyota big evil Japanese Zaibatsu which was pilloried for the gas pedal problem. When their really wasn't a problem, it was a stupid door mat issue. Not that I'd notice due to having a lead foot anyway.

Strangely I never saw much media outcry regarding say Ford Recalls or GM recalls, have a search online and there have been enormous numbers of Ford and GM (Vauxhall in the UK or Opel in Europe) recalls which do not get the same amount of media frenzy.

Anyway the kicker here is that China mades poor quality stuff because it is demanded. Not by the people but by the corporates. Chinese engineering can be excellent... if you are prepared to pay for it. The PRC government is willing to pay for it, hence semi government backed things like the metrosystems of Shanghai (built in China with help from Germans and French) Or the Harmony highspeed railway is good quality (you make it bad you may well be shot!).

What corporations demand it! Sure they do.. think about this picture from cracked.com. The photoplasty competition was a hypothetical situation of what'd happen if the internet died.

Wait what?

Yep corporates demand it.... for the men no the men and women out there who shave (TCG shaves only when he can be arsed, as TCG is not a Korean.... I've NEVER seen a Korean man with a moustache let alone a beard). Mr Gillette makes his disposable razors, they last a week at best which means you have to buy new razors. And buy more when those wear out as well. Ok consider what would happen if razor blades lasted forever? The Gillette corporation would have a bumper sale of indestructo razors then they'd go out of business. Tiger Woods wouldn't get sponsored to the tune of $$$$$$$$$$ for their Mach 5 or whatever ten bladed razor blades they are selling. Gillette corporation would cease to exist after a while.

In fact we don't need to hypothesise! Japanese motorbike manufacturers are a prime example of this. In the 1980s Yamaha made a good bike. It was the XT600, except for the bad gear box the XT600 is and was an indestructible machine. The engines last forever, I rode one across Russia, I ran it with less than half the required oil. It still rain. I ran it on unrated octane petrol it still ran without complaint. David Lambeth has one with 360,000 miles on it without ANY major engine work with just the gear box mod. Honda did the same with the XRV750 Africa twin, again indestructible. They did it again wit hthe VFR750. Also the CBR600F (the bike I currently ride). There are videos on youtube showing the CBR600F, a Texan who got 300,000 miles on the F4I version of it.

Do you see a problem with this? I sure do in that if your product is unbreakable then why would you buy a newer model of your product? Although there are many who want the bling factor and to show off in dick waving contests, there are lots of people who are content to keep what they have and use it. My 11 year old vintage motorbike is testament to this type of thinking. Even Mercedes cars are doing this making their cars poor quality so when it breaks you go buy another one. This video is nice regarding how people turn cars into washing machines. So corporates purposely make stuff poor quality and reduce the product life cycles via planned obsolesce. It breaks you buy new, it breaks you buy new.

This is not a new concept! There was a book called Crash.... no not the weird 1990s film about people who get off on crashing cars and having weird (at the time since this kind of stuff is normalised) sex in the 1990s. Or the US movie about racism either. It was a book about the car safety industry. Whereby there are countless quotes in the book about US made cars in the 1960s and 70s whereby bumpers (fenders) would break if you breathed on them too hard.

This is not just limited to cars. It is spread across the entire spectrum of consumer goods. Levis jeans for example. Ladies you all own a pair of skinny jeans right from the 1990s or even 1980s. Get them out and compare the material thickness and stitching compared to a recent pair of jeans the quality differs by a mile. Ironically Levis jeans cemented their reputation in the 1890s with uber long lasting hard wearing jeans.

I own a paid of Levis from 1994 (I haven't grown much). I used to play Badminton in jeans. Wait what? Badminton in jeans, not tracksuit bottoms or shorts but in jeans. The reason for jeans wearing is that you can slide in jeans. Chinese people being Chinese people i.e. my dad and uncles gamble on badminton games we used to play on Tuesday evenings. Thus you had to dive and slide for the shuttlecock. These jeans are fine they have marks where I slid but are fine. Levis I bought in 2007ish are like cloth trousers they are uber thin material. Thus they wear out quickly meaning in theory I have to go out and buy them again.

Lets look at this picture again.

If the corporates all collude and make things poor quality there is no choice. You have to buy shit quality or shit quality (though there are still alternatives though for now!). Much like above if the internet ceased to exist virgin could charge you $199.99 for a CD. Brittany here complained about the lack of home grown USA made stuff. Thus the corporates when they go to China, the factories and engineers can easily offer well made stuff, but the corporates don't want this... if stuff lasted we'd not buy new stuff.

People tend to be ok with this when times are good. For instance look at the shoppy frenzy which occurs when people are flush with cash.

They like to shop and the cheaper goods from China mean the quality decreasing matters less because those products are used for a shorter amount of time. Thus people become tired of them so long wear is not an issue.

However when times are bad like now people don't buy as much and tend to try and get longer use of consumer goods. Which is where the low quality shows up quite abruptly. The corporates blame those damned lazy Chinese for low quality quietly ignoring the fact that they order this low quality on purpose! They get more sales as people wear things out and spend more of their hard earned $ in the shops. And the cycle continues.

So as I've said plenty of times buy made in the USA/UK and stop supporting these crooked business practices as planned obsolescence is not practiced by all companies!


  1. When I see a label that says "made in China", I try to avoid this product - even if I have to buy more expensive one but made in Europe, Japan, Korea, Canada etc. The only sad thing is, that sometimes it's impossible to avoid chinese crap - there are simply no other products in the shop (ie. the same sort but not made in China)!!!

  2. Chinese made products are normally crap because of two main reasons:- Wages, material costs and standards in general are lower, this is 100% the reason why western companies switch production of their products to China, because they make more profit and therefore making the greedy shareholders/senior management happy. The unit costs of products from China are pushed lower and lower to further increase profit and there is where the problems begin, in order to lower costs, lower quality materials must be used, cheaper, lesser trained staff must be employed, less vigorous quality control methods are employed and so on. Reason two, Chinese business ethics are different to those of the Japanese and Korean manufacturers. Where the Japs and Koreans work tirelessly to make their products perfect, robust and reliable, the Chinese are all about volume production and value. also, the total lack of Copyrighting in China makes it pointless and largely not worthwhile to build a solid, well thought of brand (like Sony, Toshiba, Samsung etc) because any great designs or brands developed in China wil certainly be copied and the market flooded within weeks (check out all the counterfeit Chinese products out there for evidence of this) som companies more often than not will not innovate, but merely copy a product to make a quick buck, with very little thought to repeat custom or customer loyalty.

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