5 Myths About Chinese Factories

The things we read or hear about in the news and media typically play a large part in shaping our perceptions about certain issues. They put generalizations in our minds about what a place or experience is like without us ever having tried it ourselves. This can be great to shed light on issues that we may not otherwise have been aware of, but it can also be misleading. The media tends to favor stories that shock and awe. You may hear stories about a factory accident, but you won’t necessarily hear about the factory that prides itself on its flawless safety record and employee well-being on a daily basis. Unfortunately many people get the wrong idea about what foreign manufacturing industries are really like. We’re here to shed some light on some of these topics.

1. Chinese factory conditions are poor
In any industry there are companies that are ran the right way and there are companies that are ran the wrong way. While it is true that there are some factories in China that prefer to cut costs and lower standards at the expense of their facilities and employees’ well-being, these type are luckily the exception. There are many factory owners and managers that care greatly about the conditions of their factories. They make sure there is proper ventilation and lighting, that equipment is taken care of and is running properly, and that safety and employee well-being is at the top of the list. These are the kind of factories that E-BI looks for to become part of our Star Factory Alliance.

2. “Made in China” means cheap quality
If something we use seems cheap or breaks, consumers often blame it on the fact that it is made in China. However, that does not mean that there are no high quality products produced in China. The manufacturing industry in China consists of an enormous range of product quality. Factories will specialize in certain types of manufacturing and many have respectful values and standards for the minimum quality of product they are willing to produce. While some don’t mind taking the cheap route and focusing more on quantity than quality, there are plenty of others that hold to high standards and will turn down business if a lesser quality is requested.

This is why finding a factory that matches your needs and specifications is important. It is also important to understand that poor quality products aren’t necessarily the fault of the manufacturer. If a customer requests their product to be made with cheap materials and according to a design that is less than functional, than they will likely end up with a sub-par product, as requested. At E-BI, our designers and engineers offer input to optimize a product’s design so that expectations for quality are met or exceeded.

3. Factory workers are overworked and not paid fairly
It may be true that there is a large number of people in this world that are not treated well at their factory jobs, but to say that all factory employees work in poor, unfair conditions is a huge generalization. Innumerous Chinese factory workers value their jobs and way of life. They take pride in the work they produce and area they work in by keeping the space clean and organized, and taking opportunities provided to learn new skills and become experienced at their craft. It is this difference in culture, the idea that working in a factory can be an adventurous and noble profession, that Westerners looking in from the outside often have a hard time grasping. They mistakenly compare it to their own culture and way of life. Neither is inherently wrong, just different. Countless factories, including those that are a part of E-BI’s Star Factory Alliance, are oriented around people and the value they create.

E-BI employees visiting a Star Factory
E-BI employees leave a star factory after a great visit.

4. American companies manufacture in China solely because labor is cheap
Taking advantage of cheap labor wages is a great perk of manufacturing abroad, but it’s far from the only reason companies head to China to produce their products. In fact, with changing economies and labor wages in the last few years, there are other countries like Vietnam, Cambodia, or India to name a few, that have even cheaper labor wages. So why are the masses still producing in China? The plain and simple answer is because China knows what they’re doing. China’s infrastructure is superior and its manufacturing industry much more experienced. The quality control, sourcing, and skilled labor you find in China is much harder to come by in these other developing nations. It is often that American companies are after high-quality, and China is a much better guarantee of that. E-BI works with the factories it does for a reason—they have all been vetted to make sure quality standards are met or exceeded, and that they are able to create great relationships among their clients and employees alike.

5. Factories in China will steal your intellectual property
Once of the biggest concerns that we hear from prospective customers is that they are afraid their IP will be stolen if they manufacture in China. There is definitely a sense of paranoia about intellectual property due to the knock-off products that do make the rounds, and plenty of Americans assumes the fate of their product will be the same.

Yes it can happen. However, in recent years the Chinese government has implemented more regulations and laws, and have become much more diligent in enforcing them as well as cracking down on counter-fit products and patent/trademark infringements. They understand that this is a major concern for Americans, and instead of risking the loss of a huge trading partner, China has chosen to do what they can to help remedy the problem. That goes for many factories as well. The factories that E-BI works with value trust and would much rather keep a good business partner, than risk losing them by selling out their design.

 So while these “‘myths” came to be because there are and always will be people that run a bad business, an entire industry shouldn’t be judged on the outliers. Bad business practice and poor conditions happen everywhere around the world and it goes beyond the manufacturing industry as well. It’s good to realize that there are a myriad of great businesses too, even in China manufacturing.