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Why middle-class China prefers products from the West

It is an interesting point to note that the Chinese growing middle classes don’t like buying Chinese made products. There is a very clear reason. The quality levels are significantly below the levels of quality from the West. As this middle class develops they have become fed up with the poor quality and ultimately it will help to drive up improvements in the levels of quality, or at least it should. On my very first trip to China, and it didn’t really sink in at the time, I was told there were two prices for the ‘same’ material. The Chinese price and the overseas price, each with a different quality level.

Kelsey Cole book coverTo put this into perspective the western Asia Purchasing Director decided to get his Chinese driving licence and the company gave him a well known branded vehicle, which was manufactured locally in their Shanghai facility and also in Europe. About the only thing the vehicle made in Europe and the one in China had in common was the badge on the grill looked the same. One day whilst sitting in the front passenger seat, it started raining and within a short period of time I was getting a dousing of the rain water all over me.

The rain was seeping through the sun visor and providing a very un-refreshing and continuous stream of misery. The journey from the factory to the apartments was only 30 minutes, however by the time we got back it looked like I’d had a serious accident in my trousers. The vehicle dashboard, or parts of it, would literally fall out if you accelerated slightly too quickly. The driver and passenger front doors didn’t quite match up to the frames well only if you slammed them hard enough would they close. The seals around the doors didn’t quite do the job they were designed to.

The engine blew up after 30,000 kilometres. I will stop there, however I just hope this specific OEM never, ever decides to ship cars made in China to Europe or North America!

Extracted from Kelsey Cole’s new book, ‘Down (but not out) in Beijing and Shanghai’. Visit his booksite or buy it from Amazon

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