Made in China

‘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”.

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Web Design

The majority of Chinese Internet users are under the age of 30 years old, like to play games and use the Internet for entertainment purposes. You will usually see a lot of visually interesting web designs that intend to target this group of users.

At first web designers in china would make their websites using Flash. It would all be about colourful and flashy visuals. This was because the designers were imitating Korean websites and their use of Flash; the majority of Korean websites were made in this way. Chinese designers and business owners considered this the fashion and were quick to copy this style. A lot of Chinese websites were usually cluttered and very busy with loads of information being shown to the user at once. Usually there’s not much user centred design either.

However China are steadily moving away from this style of web design as users are starting to explore content more rather than just the visuals. They want useful and helpful content, rather than the overwhelming visuals they are use to.

Since China is such a large country, it can sustain itself when it comes to web design and does not need to go international. Majority of Chinese sites don’t even have an English version, even in their navigation. This makes China sort of separate from the rest of the world when it comes to the web.

How the Chinese interact with their websites differs from the way we would. The Chinese language is made up from hieroglyphic characters unlike the English language. This means that typing can be slow and not very efficient when trying to navigate through a website. This could play a part in why the web pages are usually so busy with text, images and links as users would mainly have to visually spot what they were looking for and click their way through the site. Here is an example of a gaming website:

As you can see there is no search bar, so navigating through this site relies on the visuals. This could cause difficulties to users who may have visual impairments.

Western designers who are designing a website for the Chinese users try to bring Chinese style into their websites. Here is a good example of this:

These two different websites are for the same company, Pizza Hut. Pizza Hut US focuses more on online ordering where Pizza Hut China focuses more on showing a bit of culture and happy family’s. Also In the US one there is and input bar where the user can type into where as in the Chinese one there isn’t. This is a good example of the different interaction between Chinese users and US. The colour scheme of the Chinese website is the warm red and yellow colours that’s associated with traditional Chinese culture. The American one also uses reds, but the reds are much darker and colder. I personally prefer the Chinese one, even though I can’t read mandarin, it just  looks more visually appealing to me.

Chinese web design is definitely unique and in a league of its own. I think culture and habits of the Chinese people play a huge part in that.  China has loads of opportunities            with its big market, intelligent people and its increase in innovative and user centred design thinking. China is making design one of the countries main priorities, by putting a lot of money into their design education. It will definitely be one of the leaders in web design In the future.

 

Tourism in China

China attracts millions of visitors every year. It is the third most visited country in the world.  However it wasn’t always like this; China did not allow foreigners in unless on special circumstances before the 1970s. China then realised the potential of earning a lot of money through tourism and began promoting it rapidly.  There was a great increase in hotels and guesthouse construction. Historic sites were getting renovated and members of the public were trained to become professional guides. In my opinion this was a great change as it allowed people to come and explore the countries vast landscapes and culture.

So what is there to do in china? China has a lot of different things for tourists to do; from walking across the Great Wall of China to roaming the busy streets of Hong Kong, visit Tiananmen Square or seeing some giant pandas. China has a lot to offer tourists; there are literally hundreds of interesting historic sites and landmarks to explore.

It is also a good place to visit if you are looking for a slightly different cuisine experience. They eat a wide range of different foods, ranging from insects to chicken feet. Not the best option though for people with a weak stomach. I wouldn’t mind trying a scorpion myself though!

China really has a lot of attractive aspects, which is why it is such a popular tourist destination.

How does China want the rest of the world to see it? When I think of China, I think of panda bear, the Great Wall of China and kung fu.  I’m pretty sure I am not the only person that associates these things with China.  Is this because of the way China has presented itself to the rest of the world? Here is an example of a tourism video made to promote Chinas tourism industry.

The video mainly shows the oriental Chinese culture, with scenes of beautiful landscapes, historic buildings and people with traditional clothing. The video also has their traditional music playing through out it. It then goes on to show a more modern China; showing its big cities with their impressive skyscrapers, fancy hotels and bustling streets. It gives the impression that it’s a safe environment with everyone smiling. It all looks very appealing and would have anyone thinking ‘I want to visit there!’

How true is this video in showing us what china is actually like? Well obviously China are not going to sell themselves short in a tourism promotion video and show us some bad parts of the country but the Chinese don’t all wear the traditional clothing, listen to traditional Chinese music or live in historic buildings. The government has actually being destroying the Chinese traditional homes to make way for more modern buildings. Which is quite strange because they make themselves come across as being quite traditional.

China is becoming more and more westernised and the majority of its people now live in cities moving away from their heritage.  Despite this they still choose to promote their oriental culture to tourist. This is obviously because it is what mainly attracts tourists to the country.