As the People's Republic of China threatens to become the number 1 economic power in the world, attitudes towards this country vary considerably both within a given population and from country to country. Americans, for example, see the Chinese as rivals, while many Eastern countries view them as partners. When it comes to the best Chinese smartphones, opinions are divided here, but there are enough prejudices about the quality of devices made in China.
We will explain what is true and what is the myth about the Chinese smartphone industry, in the following lines:
Prejudice against the "made in China" label
We are aware that for many people, the fact that a product is made in China can be viewed with indifference. After all, it matters what the product does, how strong it is, and the place of origin may not matter. For most consumers, however, the practices of the People's Republic of China – a communist state, of course – are viewed with skepticism.
After all, there are sufficient indications that concern for the environment, human rights and manufacturing standards is overlooked by the PRC government, in the context of the pursuit of development funds, but also, to some degree, in the dynamics of ideological competition with the West.
What greater triumph can there be for communist ideology than world economic domination, right? So shortcuts can be allowed!
In addition to these concerns about the ethical aspects of managing the Chinese state and its people, prejudices against the "made in China" label have been exacerbated by the emergence of cheap merchandise stores, often poor quality copies of originals, from reputable companies.
Through a halo effect, skepticism has also been transmitted in the field of smartphones, especially when they do not bear the name of a famous brand, such as Huawei, for example. People turn up their noses when they hear some little-known names – but isn't this a missed opportunity, if those products are really comparable to those of a famous brand?
The importance of the brand name
Labels and logos, whether we like it or not, dictate our choices. We discussed above that observing the letters "made in China" provokes mixed reactions in the eyes of buyers. But these three words have started to arouse better opinions lately.
So, we come to the part where we talk about the middle ground. If we refer to big names, such as Huawei, Vivo or Xiaomi, then yes, prejudices about the questionable quality of products made in China are set aside. The last few years have convinced us that they are in line with products made by Western rivals, such as Apple, or with those in the capitalist East, such as the Korean company Samsung.
Are lesser-known Chinese brands a cheap alternative? Hard to say, for two reasons: firstly, there are many brands and, secondly, some of them are hard to find in our markets. They may or may not be good. And it may have high-end and low-end models, just like any manufacturer.
Even if you read reviews on the web about those devices, the articles full of praise may even be paid for by the manufacturer. But existing reviews say that many Chinese phone names, still unknown in the West, are at least as good as Samsung or iPhone.
Therefore, the reference to the "made in China" label may be useless, as the industry of this vast country contains too large a range of companies and products to support a generalization in terms of quality. There are, however, much better founded objections to not buying Chinese products:
Real controversies regarding the manufacture of products in the PRC
We can mention, in this chapter, objections to the purchase of Chinese products, such as: non-respect of employees' rights, by overburdening them and exploiting as slaves hundreds of thousands (not to mention millions) of men, women and children. Another objection is the excessive pollution of both natural and urban environments.
A third objection concerns fears regarding the surveillance of data on mobile phones, practices especially favored by communist regimes. And a fourth objection is to stimulate native economies in some countries: why not give other nations a chance to increase their well-being by stimulating emerging production sectors such as India?
These objections have quite a few bases in reality, as has emerged from many recent scandals. For such reasons, some smartphone buyers object to the purchase of Chinese models. But the question is whether the People's Republic of China is really to blame for the situations listed?
Dynamics of electronics production, in an international context
It is wrong to put all the blame on the Chinese government for employee abuse or excessive pollution (although censorship and oversight remain reprehensible by the Beijing regime). And the fault of the West must be taken into account (not the countries themselves, but the private companies that outsource, manufacturing their products in other countries).
After all, the giant international companies are deliberately looking for the cheapest labor, this being in the countries of the Orient, in order to maximize their profits. Boycotting them is therefore a method of coercion that can put pressure on them.
What we want to convey here is that, after all, the customer really has power over the market, and if you are really determined to change something, you can. But to take into account the People's Republic of China, as the sole culprit for the situations listed above, is at least an uninformed attitude.
What conclusions can we draw?
A first conclusion is that China's offer is worth exploring, being vast and full of surprises. There are extremely good models of smartphones out there ( here is a comparative list ), which also have the advantage, in some cases, of being cheaper than similar products as specifications, from western brands.
A second conclusion would be that you should keep in mind that, indeed, there are enough cases of employee abuse in China, but part of the blame also lies with Western companies that decide to invest there. If you want to make a change in this regard, you could also support the development of the production sector in countries such as India or Vietnam, which claim to be the PRC's competitors in world production.
In any case, the situation is not white or black, and the options available to consumers are quite diverse, there are reasons to support production in the Orient, but also to oppose it.