“Made in China”

Jacob Lambert

In recent years, “Made in China” has developed a negative stigma in America. According to a survey published by FTI Communications in 2020, 40% of Americans say that they would not purchase a product if it was made in China. This has not always been the case though, Americans viewed things like furniture, dishes, and tea that was made in China as high quality and unique. People’s opinions began to change after China became one of the largest manufacturing powers in the world. As China’s manufacturing industry grew, America’s shrank. According to the Economic Policy Institute, between 2001 and 2018 America lost 3.7 million jobs to China, 75% of which were manufacturing jobs. Many Americans have lost their jobs to China and have come to resent Chinese products because of it. On top of that, China has a problem in the world of quality control.


Currently, the highest minimum wage in China is found in Beijing, which is about the equivalent of $3.90 USD. Because China’s minimum wage is so low, companies looking to save as much money as possible will manufacture their products in China. The low minimum wage combined with the government allowing poor working conditions makes the country the perfect spot to manufacture something for as cheap as possible.  Unfortunately for China’s reputation, the companies manufacturing cap guns for 10 cents a piece are looking to make them for as cheap as possible instead of looking to create the highest quality product.


Cheaply made products often have the words “Made In China” printed or stamped on them so the consumer knows exactly where the product came from. Scenarios like this play out every day and create a negative perception of the country’s manufacturing as a whole. Of course, it’s not true that everything that comes out of China is poorly made, many different things are manufactured in China at varying levels of quality. It’s only due to human’s negativity bias that makes us remember the bad things more than the good that we associate products made in China more with cheap dollar store toys than thousand dollar Iphones.


The final reason that people may not want to purchase products from China is a negative opinion of the Chinese government and the conditions they allow for workers in their country.  During a congressional commission on working conditions in China, Congressman Christopher Smith stated, “Worker rights are systematically violated and are among the many human rights abuses committed by Chinese Government officials at all levels… Conditions in Chinese factories continue to be incredibly harsh. Workers are routinely exposed to a variety of dangerous working conditions that threaten their health and their safety. Low wages, long hours and excessive overtime remain the norm.”


As if the appalling working conditions in China weren’t bad enough, according to the BBC the Chinese government has been rounding up a small ethnic minority known as Uyghurs and putting them into so-called “re-education” camps. Allegedly in these camps many prisoners undergo torture, sexual assualt, and forced sterilization in an attempt to limit the population. The inmates at these camps are also used for slave labour, working in supply chains of brands like Apple, Nike, Samsung, BMW, Sony and more. Many people are not ok with owning a product that is a byproduct of slavery. Unfortunately many more people are unaware of this issue or simply do not care. As for China’s response to the existence of these camps, initially the country denied their existence, but as more photos of the camps have surfaced the country has officially changed their stance from the camps not existing to them being re-education camps for the purpose of preventing terrorism.