Many Western nations import goods from China. From kitchen appliances to clothing, children’s toys to computer parts, chances are we all have many things in our homes branded with the familiar ‘Made in China’ label. Yet, do we as a consumer nation really understand the sheer enormity of all the products that are imported from China, or even how the product was manufactured? Furthermore, do we even care?
During an investigation to discover whether or not typical Dundee residents knew where or how their electronic products and clothes were manufactured, the general consensus of the individuals, with regards to the question, was inconclusive. While some guessed China, others suggested Korea, India and Bangladesh, as well as a few people who couldn’t provide an answer. From the wide array of answers it is clear that the vast majority of people do not know for definite where their products originate from.
In addition, the individuals interviewed were unable to differentiate between the quality of standards between locally made products and products imported from abroad. The few people that did provide an answer claimed that products from China are sometimes not always made to the best standards, whereas products that are specifically manufactured locally have connotations of a higher standard of quality. Is this a fair outlook to have?
In recent years, there has been some publicised instances in the media highlighting the issue of suspect Chinese imports being recalled for lack of quality or for failing to meet standard requirements. Children’s toys coated with lead-laced paint, car tires lacking an essential safety component and medicines and pet foods full of toxins are just some of the noted aberrations in a spate of poorly manufactured goods.
However, not all of these instances are a true reflection on the standards of products manufactured in China. Of course there will be some products poorly made in China, just like anywhere else. There are some great products and services available, it’s just a shame that these highly publicised incidents can have a detrimental effect on people’s opinions, Western and Eastern alike.
When asking individuals whether or not it mattered to them if the goods purchased were manufactured in good working conditions, the responses were mixed. Some people said that they simply didn’t care or think about it. Others said that while they do care, it is not always made clear to British and Western consumers the details of the source and conditions of their products and how their products are made.
It’s evident that there is a lack of understanding from Western consumers with regards to the origins of their products, despite a familiarity with the ‘Made in China’ brand. Perhaps low prices plays a factor in this lack of caring or understanding, especially during this current global economic and financial crisis. After all, we are always looking for a way to save pennies. However, should our relentless pursuit of a bargain be more important than the poor working conditions of the people who make our goods?