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Who’s to blame for shoddy Chinese goods?

Angry Chinese Blogger maintains that US companies share the blame for the dangerous goods manufactured for them in China:

…much of the blame for unsafe or low quality products lies squarely with the purchasing policies put in place by Western companies. Policies under which companies sign short term “easy in, easy out” contracts with multiple factories. Allowing them to use the threat of moving to another manufacturer in order demand the lowest possible per unit price, and to chop and change factories at will if one proves unable to meet requirements for unit price and quantity. Thus creating a low security, high competition, environment in which factory owners must compete with each other for thin margin contracts, and in which they feel forced to cut corners, or to infringing regulations, as a way of staying in businesses.

It depends on your concept of responsibility, of course. If you think your responsibility ends with your signature at the bottom of a contract that includes quality standards, then the US firms are relatively blameless. If you think you are responsible for the conditions and temptations your greed — um, competitiveness — predictably establish, then the US firms bear some of the blame. The second point of view is, arguably, the realistic one, especially if the widespread nature of the violations indicate a systemic problem. (Thanks to GlobalVoices for the link.) [Tags: china responsibility globalism realism ]

3 Responses to “Who’s to blame for shoddy Chinese goods?”

  1. If the blame should bubble up to US companies like WalMart, it also should bubble up to US buyers who buy cheap crap from Walmart even though their actions force higher paying manufacturing jobs offshore where safety and labor regulations are not as easily enforced.

    You get what you pay for. Safety and quality of retail products are moving in the same direction they were when US manufacturing was full of child labor, and heavy pollution.

    We have one of most efficient, highest quality manufacturing sectors on the planet, but our own citizens are killing it to save a couple bucks.

  2. More immediately blameworthy than the consumer is Wall Street, which is shorthand for a financial system that has only fiduciary responsibilities.

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