Jul 14, 2021SeattleSaul rated this title 3 out of 5 stars
Poorly Made in China
Paul Midler 2011
(3 of 5 “stars”)
One could hardly ask for a more insider than the Midler, since he is a native American, but now lives in China, speaks Mandarin fluently, and even has a Chinese girlfriend, but I had some issues, mostly with the “big picture,” and I wished he had delved more into it.
It took a while to get out of the specific financial relations Midler had with suppliers as he knew personally, to touch on the overall situation, but if his report is accurate, the importer-supplier relationships in general in China are an inversion of what Americans think is normal. For example, once a price is agreed upon, it sticks, and the manufacturers may not whittle down the product to shave their costs on supplying it in order to boost their profits. Apparently, per the author, this is normal practice. Likewise concerns about products that a buyer might put on the skin or ingest I find creepy.
Maybe I missed the drum roll, but the ultimate driver is Americans and other nationalities wanting less expensive goods, but insanely expecting high quality. Midler points out that there are countries that make good cheaper, e.g., Vietnam, but in China you get the whole deal: manufacturing, packaging, shipping.
As an exporting middle-man, I wondered as I was reading that he didn’t feel some regret helping these manufacturers peddle their goods and at the end, he would quit, find some other work, translation services there or for the diplomatic services, for example, and maybe by now he did; however I feel that China had bought him and he will never get loose. The forgiving point may be that Americans in their greed are the underlying cause, and this book may be his mea culpa for helping the Chinese, but back to work for him selling things.
Not mentioned, but recall that in the 1990s, everybody here thought that Japan was going to “take over the world” because of its exportation of inexpensive goods, but by the 2020s, Japan is seen as high quality, cameras for example, and not cheap clothing. Perhaps the wheel will turn on China and something or some other country will lead the way by the 2030s.
Suggest that you may enjoy or minimally be enlightened by it by reading this book.