Why China Isnt Happening Yet

I have found it interesting to read about Chinese tube amps for a fraction of the price of US, how China is taking over the world etc.

A colleague of mine in the trading and investment business is actually thinking that the prosperity of the US is over forever, Medicaid/Medicare and our pension system are bankrupt, interest rates are going up, the housing market is going to collapse and one day Americans will figure out that there is more than one currency in the world.

At that point, the US will experience flight capital for the first time, and then we are really in big trouble.

Now some of this worries me, but I thought is was interesting that of the 6 or so, bargain priced, obviously knocked off in China, toys that were given to my baby boy for Christmas....

NONE of them worked properly?!?!

The robot? He wouldnt wind up, didnt walk, and sparks failed to fly from his mask.

The magic sliding coin tray? Also didnt work, and was so cheesily made that the mechanism was obvious.

Radio controlled car? Had a range of about 10 feet -- no fun at all.

Now none of this excuses the problems we may have here in America, but FYI I am less likely to buy a tube amp from China in the New Year.


Cwlondon, you raise several compelling points here.

They used to say similar things about Japan in the 60s.


I clearly remember the spring of 1973 when I went with my dad to pick up our brand new Chevy Malibu Station Wagon. We got half way home and he was checking out various climate controls on the dash and the cheap plastic knobs were falling off left and right. Also, the wipers and washer didn't work and the radio didn't pick up the stations that our older 60s Malibu wagon we had just dropped off in trade gladly did. Something was amiss with the antenna. That car only "lasted" a couple of years in New Hamsphire where we lived at the time. The road salt in winter literally tore that car apart after a couple of seasons, the body metal seemed set on autorust mode.

We turned around and I have never seen my dad so angry at the guy at the Ford dealership. After a couple of hours, we drove home, things were sort of fixed. A return visit was required later for some detail or other...as a kid I was prone to laughing as I didn't understand the full value of expensive things like cars and just seeing parts come off the things was sort of funny. I kept my snickers hidden as best as I could but it set the stage for why I have never owned a so called "american made" auto. The knobs have never fallen off the various Japanese and German made cars I've sonce owned.

During a recent snowstorm in Boston, my high school buddy's wife had to have her 2002 Malibu towed because a comp[uter chip fried when she tried to start it. The "mal" in Malibu is real in my opinion and you can see why.

So I guess it's a relative question, depending on the context and timing of experience. I agree with you, many products coming in from China are not worth the cheap cost. And I do not shop at Wal Mart. And I stick to US made when it comes to guitars, amps and stereo gear, with the exception of a couple of pieces by Jolida. One thing's for damn sure. It's the behaviors of consumers that drive the behaviors of consumer manufacturers, and China is no different. As China gains capital and purchasing power, their consumers also will develop a demand for quality goods. The question where will the US be when that happens. They are a future quality market as their consumer power base grows. This happened in Japan too, look at the market there for vintage US made guitars.

So far, my Jolida integrated has worked flawlessly, but I am considering switching to a Rogue Cronus because of sonic improvement and the fact that it is (still) made in the US. Jolida allowed me to affordably get into tubes and now that I have determined tubes have a valid place in my listening enjoyment, I am on the way to improving my tube gear.
Interesting post....from many points of view that are much larger than simply the audiophile marketplace.

I am one who is going to agree with your colleague as regards the looming issues that are very real and will cause major disruptions in our society. To say, as a society, that we have been decieved and mislead is IMO not stretching the truth. I believe that the fear of "flight of capital" is very real. By the same token, right now, that capital really has nowhere else to go if it is seeking both safety and return. If it is seeking primarily safety, than there are other choices.

By the same token, it seems to me that the really big lesson in all of this is that it is our society that has, since WW2, sowed the seeds of our own dilemna. It is we who have shown the world a better quality of life, and sold them our products (and our syndicated television re-reruns) with this quality of life as a lure. Now, to our dismay, they have decided that they want it for themselves and in many ways are willing to work harder for it than we are. Should we blame them?

But we are not alone in this. Right now, the emerging world NEEDS access to our consumption. If all of the worlds drug users stop cold turkey, all of the worlds dealers stop cold turkey as well. Without the American consuption, the Chinese manufacturing machine (which already suffers from a dramatic lack of pricing power...observe the changes currently going on in their internal policies) will cease to have sufficient customers to justify its existence.

This is not to minimize our own problems. Our leaders have done a miserable job of taking care of business, and we as voters have done an even poorer job of our duty of choosing appropriate leaders.

When Japanese products first appeared in the market after WW2, they suffered from all of the same problems that you have so accurately described. Look at them now.

In the bigger global picture, we are all in this together. We all need each other...rich and poor...and we need to take care of each other...rich and poor.
There's crap made in the U.S. and there's great stuff made in the U.S. There's crap made in China and there's great stuff made in China. As a consumer, you get to wade through it all and figure out which is which. I've been using a Jungson integrated that I paid $325 for about 7-8 months ago and I'd put it up against anything in the $1200-$2000 range (it replaced an Audiolab 8000A which retailed for about $800 in the early 90's and the Jungson is far superior); I'm a happy guy. But I'd be wary of cheap knock-offs with little information available on them. Even the great stuff coming out of China receives little press, probably because that press will do nothing but serve to put European and domestic manufacturers of high end gear (and subsequently their advertising budgets) under great pressure. Think about it.
I have lost faith in the ability of the modern Press and Media to accurately portray "truth in advertising" at many levels, so as you indicate, no surprises there. An despite what reviewers in the two big audio mags will maintain, advertising $$$ speak and determine what get's positively aired, and what gets no air time, always has been that way and always will.

That's why this is one of the last venues for honest discourse and why those publications are uncomfortable by our presence.
Funny... I drive a '98 Malibu and other than the AC button turning itself off on occasion (just reach down and hit it again) the thing hasn't had a single problem.

Just goes to show that within any segment/brand, people will have good and bad experiences.
When Japan first began selling sports cars they were knock-offs of classic British cars like the MG...just cheaper.
The next generation were their own designs, and ran circles around the competition. They sold on the basis of quality, not cost. China is just beginning to get into the audio business, manufacturing designs by US and European companies, and making designs based on existing technology. But soon China will put forth their own innovative technology, and our audio companies better get their act together or they will face the same kind of crisis that overcame our auto industry. Chinese engineers are the equal or better than ours, and there are ten times as many of them.
You're actually talking of the different sides of the Chinese business:

One side is a commercial manufacturing and Quality Control and
Another side is private home-based limited manufacturing wich could I think be a lot different if ones are realy upto earning bucks in our hobbyist' media.
I recently read a NY Times article regarding the freight train that is the Chinese economy. Although China's current accounting principles make tracking their growth somewhat fuzzy, it is commonly believed that China's economy is now the fourth largest in the World. Further, at their current growth rate, China's economy is expected to overtake the US as the World's largest economy by 2035. However, due to their huge population, China remains a relatively poor country with a per capita income of about $1700 yr. It will be interesting to see how China deals with its increasing role in the global economy and its populations inevitable demands for a greater share of the pie.
china does not recognize intelectual property ownership. japan does. there is nothing wrong per say with buying affordable gear made in china provided the manufacturer is clearly stating where it sources parts and where it is assembled. some companies like quad and others try to not mention that their products are no longer made at all in the u.k. and even the ownership is not the same. the only thing thats the same is the name. this doen't mean the products are bad, it just isn't very honest.
Cruz 123 nailed it. China is growing exponentially, but their people are going to become more savvy and demand more. Will China loosen the chains or drop the Maoist shit on 'em?

Stay tuned, this ones far from over.
Don't forget that just because it's made in China doesn't mean those factories are Chinese owned. If a nasty, mean, penny-pinching American owner goes to China and opens up a factory to make those cheap toys that doesn't work and brings it over to sell to your kids, then who should you blame? Now if the factory was Chinese owned and imported by Chinese then you have more right to be mad at them. :D But you're still in many ways blamming the whole for what a few people did.

But really, if you go to China and shop, there's a lot of good quality cheap stuff. Of course if these goods are exported, it will probably no longer be a good deal so you get the cheaper and lower quality stuff.
Not one post here so far mentioned the fact that China is a Communist Country. Most workers are paid little or nothing. Working conditions are horrible. Major corporations of the world are flocking there because manufacturing costs are among the lowest in the world. That greed will come home to roost in time.

As China's manufactured goods are flooding the world the Unites States and other idustrialized nations manufacturing base is shrinking. Hell it's almost gone. Our own government calls the building of a hamburger, manufacturing now.

What do you suppose China is doing with all that money pouring into Her country??? She does not seem to be giving any of it back to her people. And I am sure she is not using the money to build up her military complex.

Sorry, I'll climb down off my soapbox now...
Being outside of the US, the concern shared by many economists is over ever increasing US household debt rather than:
- pension schemes (as defined contribution has effectively moved the risk from employer to employee), and
- medical aid (as innovative products are providing some solutions).
This debt is not gravity defying and at some point in time, could trigger some economic nasties...

Both China and India will have larger economies than the US and probably sooner than 2035! Being the 3rd largest world economy is not a bad thing its just basic maths that Chindia will be bigger. The good news is that this growth alleviates poverty and lifts living standards the world over.

The US challenge is to benefit from these events and so far, it seems to be going in the wrong direction (especially post 911). Consider the fact that a weaker dollar has not feuled US exports and instead, it continues to be a net importer. US politicians are demanding revaluations of the Chinese currency to achieve some sort of trade balance. These are temporary solutions. Permanent solutions are needed.

As Chindias domestic economies gain momentum its reliance on US exports becomes less important. Where does this leave the US?

The world needs a strong healthy US economy. I'm worried.
Jea48, you really should get your facts straight. It's so easy to put a large umbrella over everything. Do you know why virtually every country wants to do business with China right now? Do you know why many are saying China is going to be the world's biggest market for consumer goods very soon? Do you know why they are already the largest cell phone market? Besides indicating the sheer size of their population, it also suggests that Chinese consumers have money to spend. In Hong Kong, Chinese tourists are touted as the reason for their recent economic revival.

Of course there are poor people. Maybe where you live, you don't see any when you look outside. But it exists everywhere. And the poorest people and the worst conditions tend to be found in the most developed and "rich" cities. And you do know that one of the reasons China became Communist in the first place is due to the US government.
As far as chinese audio equipment goes, I have to agree with those that have observed that it is a mixed bag. Some components, such a the Antique Sound Labs pieces I've handled have been very cheaply manufactured and poor values in my opinion. On the other hand, the Cayin stuff that I've played with is very well made and an excellent value.

As far as "worrying" about China's future in world commerce, etc., I have to agree with Danlib1. China has shown a greater historical propensity for self immolation than any other nation in human history. The Chinese developed technology and social structure that predated similar western developments by hundreds, to over a thousand years, and yet turned inward and regressed. The nation has done this more than once, and could easily do it again. The fomula is in place for just such an occurrence as it is run by a small authoritarian group that will tolerate the newly "liberalized" economy as long as it doesn't substantially threaten its hegemony. As money buys power everywhere, I don't think it will take long before some neuvoriche industrialist oversteps the tolerance of the regime. Recent events in the Russian energy industry may be particularly instructive. We'll see, I guess.
>>"Do you know why virtually every country wants to do business with China right now?"<<
Yes, they are building their factories in China, but how will that help workers here in the USA?
Do you know why many are saying China is going to be the world's biggest market for consumer goods very soon?
True, but again the products will be manufactured in China, not the USA.
>>"In Hong Kong, Chinese tourists are touted as the reason for their recent economic revival."<<
China just recently regained control of Hong Kong from the British in 1997. You could not of picked a worse example for your argument.

That "big sucking sound" you hear is the wealth of your country going to China.

I was watching a program on TV about four years ago. A Government official was explaining how great globalization was going to be for the world. Cheaper products for consumers. How it will raise the standard of living for poor countries.

As the government official went on how great globalization was going to be for the USA he was asked in the process if American jobs would be lost, and how would the standard of living of American worker be affected. He explained through the process there would be some pain. Our standard of living would come down some as the poor nations standard of living increased. Things will equalize.....

In my mind I could see two charts, scales. One of the U.S. and the other of a country like China. The U.S. a 10, China a 2. Equalization?? China, maybe a 5, the U.S. hopefully not less than a 5.

The government official was asked how long the equalization might take. He answered about 25 years.....
>>"And you do know that one of the reasons China became Communist in the first place is due to the US government."<<
That would explain why the communist Chinese Military test fired a missile into the ocean with a range that could hit our center of government, Washington DC....

Guidance system used, the best in the world, straight from the USA.
Jea48, do you only buy consumer goods that are manufactured in the USA? You should, otherwise, don't hate on others for someone else's decision. Building factories in China doesn't help the US worker, but it helps the US consumer. But again, it's not the Chinese who negotiated with American owners to move their factories, it's usually the other way around. And Chinese manufacturing will continue to improve.

I am aware that China just regained control of Hong Kong. What's your point? Why is my example a bad one? In the early years after 1997, mainland Chinese could not travel to Hong Kong that easily. Hong Kong businesses also never catered to the mainland Chinese. When the Chinese government made it easier for citizens in China to travel to Hong Kong, combined with businesses starting to cater to Chinese tourists, their tourist economy revived.

If you study economics, you might understand (not saying you have to agree), the benefits of globalization. Like many things such as communism, the theory in itself is good IMO, what gets in the way is selfish human nature.

To relate this back to audio, many of us here started with very humble systems. If those knockouts or whatever you want to call them, get many people started on this hobby, I say all the power to them. (my first instrument was probably a no-name plastic jingle). You have to make do with what you have. And when they find that they enjoy this hobby, they'll probably look for something better. And if American manufacturers offer products that offer better value than what Chinese manufacturers can come up with, they'll purchase American gear, unless they, similar to you, refuse to buy American gear for fear that Americans would suck away all their money.
China is a "communist" country in name only!

In reality, China is a right-wing "facist" dictatorship much like Hitler's Germany and Mussolini"s Italy.

Like Germany and Italy, China is now a corporate state (a term coined by Mussolini). The fianicial interests of business and the political goals of government essentially merge at the expense and influence of the common citizen.

Under the current administration, the USA is heading down the same road. The Wall Sreet crowd submits its wish list to the President and Congress. By and large, they get what they want. We get higher Medicaid/Medicare premiums, fewer student loans, less child care subsides to pay for the military-industrial complex and its policy of continuous war. Viet Nam morphs into a Reganesque spending frenzy. The hoped for "peace dividend" when the communist system colapses never materializes; instead, we get a so-called "war on terrorism" that seeks to redraw the geo-political map to the interests of business.

We can spend hundred of billions of dollars on a war but somehow it's not in our national interests to see that every American has medical coverage.

"What can a poor boy do..." says Jagger/Richard. I don't know. I guess I'll go into my listening room and turn up the volume to drown out the surrounding madness.
Just a couple of thoughts...

to describe human nature as "selfish" is not unlike calling an elephant large. What we call "selfishness" is simply a basic human trait. Sure we try to rise above our base instincts, but they are in the end an inseperable part of human beings. That's why every attempt at idealized "egalatarian" socities has failed. These systems ignore the fact that you don't get gold from cow shit.

Western style democracies with free market economies approach the subject from the opposite end- acknowledge this "selfishness" through respect for personal property rights and personal freedoms. Yeah, it can be ugly in some respects (lopsided distribution of wealth, etc.) but it at least recognizes the basic traits of human beings and attempts to channel these traits productively.

Now, as for this term "right wing facist"..

Germany and Italy, as "AXIS Powers", were National Socialists. In National Socialism, private parties can own the means of production but government determines what is produced and the quantities thereof. According to Marx and Engles, National Socialism is NOT "right wing"- it is in fact a stepping stone toward the "true communist state".

China, and the USSR, have never really been communist. They have always been subject to rule by party personalities with no term limits, who ruled with absolute power until they died. The "common citizen" in China is no worse off than he was under Maoism, and far less likely to die at the whim of the party leader.

What will be interesting is how China will control it's citizenry's desire for prosperity. It won't be easy, given our selfish nature :)
Good post Danlib1, although it doesn't have too much to do with audio.

Personally, I think political opinions and agendas should not be a part of music. So when it comes to audio gear, it is not important whether it's manufactured in China or anywhere else. What is important is that for the price, it is a good deal/good performer. The fact that it's made locally should mean that a middleman was cut out. When you play music with someone, you do not care about their race. If you do, then that's racism. What is important is that he/she can play. Same with audio gear IMO. One shouldn't care where it's made. What's important is whether it's any good. Now that's not saying, I don't support people buying local to support their local community. Note that that's different from bashing others. One is positive while one is negative.
Here is a name some of you may recognize. This is a post that Mr. Hansen responded to over on AA.

hidden costs of Chinese products - Charles Hansen 07:19:33 05/21/05 (11)

In Reply to: Re: where is the new ARCAM manufactured? posted by suretyguy on May 2, 2005 at 11:47:23:

"There are hidden costs of Chinese products, but they are not borne by you, the consumer. Instead, they are borne by the Chinese workers and the people who live there.
During my visit to several Chinese loudspeaker cabinet factories, I saw no regard whatsoever for workers' health. The spray booths were the worst. The workers here worked full shifts spraying lacquer finishes with no respirators whatsoever. It's only a matter of time before these guys have brain impairment, liver damage, and probably cancer."

"The toxic chemical waste was simply dumped, either in the sewer or the back lot. These chemicals will of course enter the drinking water supply eventually. You may remember the horror of Love Canal in this country. There are thousands of similar disasters brewing in China."

"Finally you save money buying Chinese products because the workers are paid around $2 per day. Ignoring any other aspects of this, it is clear that US workers cannot compete with this. So buying Chinese costs American jobs, where we expect a living wage, health insurance, and educational opportunities for our children."

"It's your choice."
[Charles Hansen]
If you are not pleased with the current government in the USA then why would you have an allegiance to domestic products? Am I supposed to feel guilty about betraying Haliburton and Enron while listening to my Consonance gear?
Jack: While I fully respect your right to post Charles Hansen's opinions, I also think that looking at the big picture is in order here as well. Does the Chinese worker, who is working in less than ideal conditions, have fewer rights than the unemployed American unskilled worker living without medical insurance or basic necessities in the ghettos of America (or Canada, or Brazil, or Kenya, or Ethiopia for that matter)? If you or Charles Hansen feel that way, you are either a racist or a nationalist, pure and simple my friend. I would say that it's much more politically correct to be a nationalist than a racist, but in a rapidly globalizing world it is no less morally correct. In the west we need to look to our governments for MUCH more leadership in areas of education to improve our workforces to compete in the global economy and be able to provide "value added" skills and labour. The fact is that we have become lazy in the west and we believe prosperity is our right, not something we need to earn. Billions of Chinese, Indians and Africans do not have these preconceived notions; an unskilled and uneducated workforce combined with unimaginative management is simply not going to cut it in the new millenium and General Motors-and perhaps high end American audio producers-are a prime example of that.

As a consumer, I feel no guilt in buying quality products produced in countries other than my own; I do, however, feel outrage towards our governments which do absolutely nothing to improve our lot, but focus instead on creating smokescreens for the public while they retain "power" and line the pockets of the economic elite. Our governments, and the people who elect them, better clue in to this or we are going to be in big trouble.
Thank you HDM. The 2nd paragraph of your post puts a more eloquent twist on what I was saying.
"A government for the people, by the people, and of the people" has about as much credibility these days as "Please hold, as your call is very important to us."
Actually the present "representation" in D.C. right now is the best commercial for buying foreign goods there is. I lauugh every time somebody tells me to buy an American car when half of the circuitry and parts are imported anyway. The only thing better than that was that idiotic campaign that SUV's aid terrorism. Gee it seems that the CIA and secret service cornered the market on Chevy Suburbans. As for the Hansen comment I'd rather support the slow death of a Chinese worker than the quick one of an American in Iraq.
>>"Does the Chinese worker, who is working in less than ideal conditions, have fewer rights than the unemployed American unskilled worker living without medical insurance or basic necessities in the ghettos of America"<<

Yes! The Chinese workers are being exploited by foreign companies/corporations. Basically slavery imo. They could never get by with treating human beings in such a manner at home in their country of origin.

>>" (or Canada, or Brazil, or Kenya, or Ethiopia for that matter)?"<<
I can not speak for Canada You live there, do companies there follow the same practices as they do in the countries you mentioned?

>>"If you or Charles Hansen feel that way, you are either a racist or a nationalist, pure and simple my friend."<<
You must live in the French speaking part of Canada and got confused in translation.
Please give examples of racism in any of my above comments.
You are confusing the word racist with words like exploited, oppressed, slavery....

>>"In the west we need to look to our governments for MUCH more leadership in areas , pure and simple my friend."<<
You know it is amazing one minute people bitch about too much government and the next not enough. You can't have it both ways, my friend.

It is amazing to me how an American company, that was in business in this country for years, knows right from wrong, knows how an employee should be treated with a least a minimal amount of respect. Treated like a human being, not a disposable tool that they can use up and discard at will....Knows about workers safety. Knows about polluting the earth, ect, ect ect.

When American companies go to poor nations to build their factories is it written somewhere they have to automatically become Aholes and treat the poor like they are subhuman.

>>"As a consumer, I feel no guilt in buying quality products produced in countries other than my own;"<<
Me neither! CDp made in England. Speakers made in England. Preamp made in Canada. Power Amp USA. Phono cartridge made in Germany. DVD/SACD/CD player made in Japan.

Generalization is a dangerous thing. Are there no exploited workers in America? Are all the workers in America treated fairly? There's no pollution in America? You're deluding yourself! The Chinese workers who built my amp (Jungson) are not exploited by multi-nationals; Jungson is a Chinese company. Hell, I don't even know for a fact that they are exploited; the piece is a technological marvel built like a brick sh^&*thouse that cost me less than 50% of the retail price of the 15 year old Audiolab 8000A that I replaced it with and sounds a ton better!

I'm in Ontario and have no problems with the English language. Too much government? Not enough government? What I expect from my government (and yours) is some common sense and intelligence. Frankly, I don't see it on either side of the border. And blaming the Chinese for our problems isn't going to stop that.
Yes! The Chinese workers are being exploited by foreign companies/corporations. Basically slavery imo. They could never get by with treating human beings in such a manner at home in their country of origin.

Yes and many of these foreign companies and corporations are American. So are you suggesting the Chinese government arrest these American owners and managers and punish them for their crimes? Of course the American public will be furious and claim that the Chinese government is entirely unreasonable blah blah blah.

The Shanling factory looks pretty good to me:


When a company treats its employees well and they're all happy, we often hear about it because they're "rare". Go to various audio manufacturers site. Some really seem to have a "team" spirit, while others are really a one man show.
>>"Generalization is a dangerous thing. Are there no exploited workers in America? Are all the workers in America treated fairly? There's no pollution in America?"<<

Bud if you can't see the difference you have a problem.
I have wasted all the time I am going to, on you... Respond to your heart's content.
the world is being flooded with pirated merchandise from china, including but not limited to...stereo components & accessories, dvd's, cd's, blank tapes, clothing, shoes, automotive parts.....whats more, dozens of high end audio companies are hiding the fact that they are made in china. they want you to believe they are more than simply 'an office with desks and chairs'. no matter how good or bad the products are coming out of china, supporting non disclosure of parts origin and assembly from companies that exist 'in name only' is wrong. the hi end magazines would have you think there is no middle ground(check out december's stereophile-sam's space). in the same issue there are lots of ads for domestic products that are reasonable and quite good. check the websites of these 'made in china' phonies....not a word about where they are made.
>>" So are you suggesting the Chinese government arrest these American owners and managers and punish them for their crimes?"<<
You are kidding right!! Do you honestly think the communist regime of China allows foreign companies/corporations, to set up shop in China for free, Come on Howie, you cannot be that naive.
I find it very ironic that some people at this forum have a bleeding heart for the oppressed, underpaid and generally abused Chinese workers, while their counterparts here are barely making a living, with no job security of any sort and in virtual tutelage to the owners. Wake up! Save yourself before you try to save someone else!
Jea48, you are either completely naive or unintelligent!
As to the quality of Chinese equipment, it varies. Yet frequently it sounds better and always is a better value than the boutique stuff made here or in Europe. Very often your wounded pride (and poor financial decisions) wouldn't let you admit to that.
>>"I find it very ironic that some people at this forum have a bleeding heart for the oppressed, underpaid and generally abused Chinese workers, while their counterparts here are barely making a living, with no job security of any sort and in virtual tutelage to the owners."<<
You and HDM are definitely cast from the same mold. I bet you have never had to miss a meal in your life!

>>"Jea48, you are either completely naive or unintelligent!"<<
I believe you need to take a long hard look in the mirror bud.....
You suffer from Ostrich syndrome, pull your head out of the sand man.

>>"while their counterparts here are barely making a living, with no job security of any sort and in virtual tutelage to the owners."<<
unintelligent? Exporting American jobs to China, Ya thats intelligent!!