Why is “made in China” looked down upon?

The short answer is capitalism. China exports low-quality goods simply because it is profitable to do so. Nobody is forcing you to buy crap from China. Capitalism! Vote with your dollars! Yes, it is indeed profitable for a Chinese enterprise to export products overseas, because production costs in China are so low compared to the prices people around the world are willing to pay.

But remember, this is not a reflection of the overall quality of Chinese labor or engineering. For each low-quality work produced, there are thousands of excellent works never seen outside of China. Such as this case when some bridge had to be rebuilt in two days:

In other words, not all Chinese products are crap. This needs no explanation.

Then why is there a popular perception that “made in China” stuff is crap? A large part of it is due to media bias. The worst stories about tainted baby formula, gutter oil, toys full of lead, are widely circulated. Meanwhile, outstanding feats of craftsmanship and engineering are ignored by media. So, to an unwitting viewer it would seem like there are no feats of outstanding craftsmanship or engineering, while something bad is happening at every turn.

This perception also owes a large part to industry practices. For example, electronics is a major offender. Electronics are often “designed” by firms outside of China, while the actual work of assembling them is done in China simply because it is cheaper. That’s right, firms “can not afford” to pay Americans, Europeans, etc. to do the actual work. Instead, they subcontract the actual work to a place with less purchasing power. Then the subcontractor only receives a small cut of the profit, while the majority of the profit goes to those who didn’t do an ounce of labor.

Another big offender is the clothing industry. This occurs not just in China, as you can see from all the labels which read “made in Vietnam”, “made in Bangladesh”, “made in Indonesia”. You know you’re buying a true American product when you buy a $100 shoe in America for something produced by someone who got paid 100 cents equivalent.

Be conscious about the quality of stuff you buy. It’s absolutely the responsible thing to do as a consumer. But never confuse “made in China” with “China” itself.

And next time you rave about your Fancy iPhone Plus, know that you owe its super-low price and its super-high quality to Chinese labor ;)