‘Made in China’ is a brand we see all the time. It is on household appliances, electronic systems, clothing and toys. Pretty much every manufactured item will have a version of it that was “Made in China”. How much do we actually care where these items were created and at what cost?
I don’t think twice when I see an item of mines that has been branded with “made in China”. So I started wondering if people had different views from me, maybe they are put off by an item with this brand, thinking that the item is of lower quality than items manufactured in the UK or they just feel the same way as I do. So I started asking around friends and family.
The majority of the people I asked did not really have any views on the matter. They would just see it as another item that was usually cheaper than others. It seemed than people were more focused on price than anything else. So what makes “Made in China” products cheaper than products developed in the UK? Is it cheap labour? What sort of deals are these Chinese workers getting? Would people still buy these items if they knew all the information behind them?
I started looking at a famous factory in China called EUPA who employ 17000 people. EUPA’s massive workforce pumps out 15 million irons per year, millions of sandwich grills, microwaves, coffee makers and blenders. The workers live here, eat here and their children attend school here. A lot of its employees are getting a very good deal here with cheap rent, food and a social life. The company encourages relationships between employees and generally wants what’s best for them. Without this company many of the workers would still be living in poverty. Even though they do not get paid as much as a British person would working in a factory, I still think this is a really good thing because its helping the lives of so many Chinese families.
But this is not how it always is. There has been many horror stories about Chinese factories where the employees are treated terribly with little or no pay at all. One example of where bad conditions have happened is in a company called Foxconn who have contracts with Apple. Employees there would work for an average of 60 hours a week for $2 an hour. Conditions were so demoralizing for some workers that the company had hung up giant nets outside the buildings to solve what it called a “suicide problem” among its employees. The company allegedly employs underage workers and hides them when the Fair Labour Association inspection occurs. Apparently conditions are improving and are a lot better than they use to be.
There are many other factories out there that we have no idea how the conditions are. EUPA in my opinion gives the “Made in China” brand a good name and it’s a shame how other companies could ruin this. Overall the people working in these factories are better off and earn a lot more money, even if it doesn’t seem like a lot to us, than they would else where. A lot of the employees are from rural areas with little or no work opportunities available to them.
After telling my family and friends what I found out, overall their views didn’t really change. They would not be put off buying “made in china” products as my uncle said “it’s still keeping someone in a job”.