As a group we decided to focus on products people buy, more specifically the items that people bought last and their views on the products made both here in the UK and those made in China. We chose to create a series of little red paper t-shirts, on these we prompted people to write the answers to some questions we had on them. We decided on a set of four questions, though these questions could be changed or even expanded on depending on what the person wrote:
What was the last thing you bought?
- Do you know where your products are from?
- Do you care and does it bother you where your products come from?
- What are your views on the quality of products made her in the UK to products made elsewhere (China, Taiwan etc)
For the most part many of the answers for the most part were the same. A lot of people do not know where the products they buy come from and when asked many will reply with either “I don’t know” or the country stereotypically known for producing that product, many believing that only the lower quality items come from China. But is this ethical? Whilst many of the items are made in China some are not in fact able to be legally sold in China. The products can only be distributed by the company that outsourced the manufacturing to China. Among the biggest challenges faced by Chinese brands when approaching the foreign markets is the connotations associated with the words “Made in China”.
Although ,when asked, people do not seem to mind where their products come from so long as the products are of a decent to good quality. There are those who generally try to make sure that the ones employed to create the items are treated fairly before they make the purchase, though the majority are more likely to overlook the items origins altogether. It was only recently that the labour laws in China were changed. This was done in an effort to address the rising number of labour disputes. It was decreed that all contracts had to be put into writing within one month of the employee starting. Contracts are not seen as binding in China. It also covers areas such as severance pay, lay-offs, probationary periods and mandatory holidays, Chinese new year, International Labour Day and National Day each of which spanning a week at a time. The standard working time in China is 40 hours whilst the standard working week is Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm with the weekend off. However overtime is the norm and many companies don’t actually compensate their workers for it.
It would appear that the view of many concerning the comparisons between something made in the UK and something made elsewhere like China, many will state that the products made in the UK are of a higher quality. Whilst this is has an ounce of truth, it would be truer to say that whist the products may be inferior in quality, these same products are created for a market that expects the products for cheap prices. There are also a number of high quality products that are made in China as well, these selling for a much higher price. Other than this, it would seem that the awareness of many fake products and counterfeits also casts a more negative view of Chinese products.
Looking around online, it would seem it is very easy to have items manufactured over in China. Just searching “Manufacturing in China” brings you to a site for a company that helps set up the whole transaction. On the whole, the industry has developed incredibly quickly. The scale of the increase has been ranked in the top places providing obvious comparative advantages internationally. The manufacturing industry serves as the most dominant sector of China’s economic growth. As such it is the main source of employment in the cities and towns of China. The upgrade of the manufacturing industry in China has became the main symbol of improvement of natural power in China over the last 20 years. This has enabled China to primarily establish its status as a “big country of manufacturing” and has also laid the foundations for China becoming a “strong country of manufacturing”.