We are all partially aware that a majority of what we buy today has at one point either been passed through, parts have been bought from, or even been entirely crafted in China. However the general consensus of the public shows that this is as far as their knowledge on the subject stretches. When venturing out into the streets and asking the general public their views on products it’s clear that many shoppers are quick to assume that everything they buy likely comes, however partially, from China. However, a look into some typical household goods will show that not everything is manufactured where you would typically assume. Shoppers will look at their shoes and say “yes these are probably made in China,” a quick check of the label however will show that this is, much to their surprise, not the case.
Typically people know little of where the goods they purchase come from, how they were produced, or why. A select few from a public survey shows that shoppers know only a small amount of what goes on behind the scenes of the production market and the goods that they buy. The belief in these shoppers is that goods from China, depending on what you buy, are of a lesser quality than goods that can be bought within the Western market. Many fear that goods from China are quickly made, or even counterfeit. The opinion of some shoppers when asked ‘Do you know anything about how products are manufactured in China?’ is that a majority of products are likely, but hopefully not, manufactured in sweatshops.
Sweatshops are large buildings full of men and women that work and suffer under horrible conditions everyday. Many of these workers are immigrants from the countryside who have moved away from home in order to provide a better life for themselves and their families with the money that they earn from the factories. They work day after day for little wage and no breaks, and the conditions that they work under are unacceptable. There have been many campaigns and movements to try and stop sweatshops throughout the world.
Today there are known to be factories such as the EUPA factory in China. Their workers are viewed as valued assets to the company and are looked after and given good accommodation and pay. Younger workers must pass an entrance exam before coming to the factory and are then put into education. Once they graduate they have the promise of a job waiting for them in the factory where they have been taught.
To the residents of this factory it is much more than just a workplace, it is a community. They don’t just work together, they also live together, eat together and spend their lives together. Romantic relationships formed within the factory walls are encouraged, and marriages often take place within the factory in front of their fellow workers. These weddings are even organized by the company itself. The places where these buildings stand were often fields where farms once stood. A reflection of how advancement is changing everything. Old jobs that were once vital are replaced with what is viewed as being needed in the now.
The other biggest concern of shoppers from the West is the risk of buying counterfeit goods that have been deliberately sold as genuine products. One particular shopper that I spoke to commented, “It’s always something to think about, especially if you’re buying online, you just have to be careful.”
China is, unfortunately, notorious for the mass production of counterfeit goods. Such goods range from famous clothing brands, watches, computer software or parts, and even fake food chains have been opening up all over China. Usually such goods are almost identical to their real counterparts, but small changes have been made in order to try and avoid copyright claims. However, even changing these products slightly is not enough to save them from breaching copyright laws.
The counterfeit craze has even spread to big name brands such as Apple. Fake Apple stores began opening up all over China in 2011, at least 22 of these stores were reported to have been found and subsequently closed by authorities for breach of copyright.
The epicentre for counterfeit goods in China is infamously known as Silk Street. Located in Beijing, Silk Street was once a large Alleyway with roughly 410 stalls that sold counterfeit goods and tourist items for incredibly cheap prices. However this was recently demolished and reformed into a shopping centre, claiming that there is more regulation and control over the selling of counterfeit goods within, although such goods are still found to be sold within the complex everyday.
China is predominantly viewed as being a double-edged sword when it comes to manufacturing and the buying and selling of products overseas. China is a country that wants to be viewed as a place of innovation and invention, to be a forerunner in the world of business. However they are being held back by their old reputation for selling goods that are viewed as being not up to standard when compared with their Western counterparts. A large majority of people still believe there is too much risk involved when buying goods from China when they could simply buy them at home and be guaranteed of their value.