Made in China 101

Made in China. If you're a consumer in the West, you are familiar with those words. The People's Republic of China is the largest exporter in the world; from new electronics to clothing, fashion accessories to medical equipment, Chinese goods are prolific throughout the United States and Europe. Amidst all the familiarity with Chinese goods, though, is a lot left unknown. What does Made in China really mean? Welcome to your first lesson on Made in China.

6 Things You Never Knew Were Manufactured in China

An iPhone assembly worker in Apple's mobile phone testing department in Shenzhen, China. Image courtesy of
  1. Apple Computers: Be it the iPhone, iPod or the Mac Book, nothing is more all-American than Steve Jobs' black turtle neck and that glowing apple emblem. Many consumers don't realize that the California-based electronics powerhouse outsources 100 percent of its manufacturing overseas to China, but take look at the label. You'll probably see "Designed by Apple in California Assembled in China."
  2. Whole Foods 365 Organic Products: The small yet elite American organic grocery chain was put under the spotlight in early 2010 when ABC produced an expos?regarding the store's 365 Organic brand food imported from China. The store assured the public that food does not have to be grown in the United States to be labeled "organic," which turned out to be a surprisingly straightforward explanation.
  3. Motts and Tree Top Apple Juice: If you're from rural Washington State, chances are you think the United States is the apple capital of the world. However, China is by far the largest exporter of apples in the world, much of it in concentrate form, which is the number one ingredient in most apple juices.
  4. Stringed Instruments: Yo-Yo Ma may be one of the most famous musicians in the world, but the violin, viola and cello have traditionally been the instruments of the West. While professional musicians still seek out hand-crafted European instruments, most school- and intermediate-level stringed instruments are manufactured in China and then sold under very-European sounding names like Andreas Eastman, Johannes Kohr, and Andrew Schroetter.
  5. Element Skateboards: What started as a tiny California company in 1992 soon grew to one of the largest names in skating and boarding in the world. The huge increase in demand meant outsourcing to China.
  6. American Flags: The symbol of America is mostly still produced in the United States. Even so, millions of dollars of flags are imported from China (and South Korea and Taiwan), accounting for probably around 5 or 10 percent of the United States?total yearly flag sales.

5 Chinese Exports You Didn't Know About

P.K. 14's front man Yan Haisong with bassist Shi Xudong. The band performs strictly in Mandarin Chinese and has been touted for its "sharp, post-punk" sound. Image courtesy of
  1. Punk rock music: The burgeoning rock & roll music scene in China has made its way to packed houses in New York City. P.K. 14, Xiao He, and Carsick Cars are three of the biggest musical acts in China making waves around the world.
  2. Real estate investors: International travel and trade agreements between China and a variety of other countries have opened up access to overseas real estate opportunities. Groups of Chinese investors now have the chance to travel in groups and drop some major bucks on condos, especially in places like Toronoto, Canada.
  3. Bond ratings:As the world's largest creditor nation, China decided to take debt ratings into its own hands. Privately-owned Dagong Global Credit Rating Co., LTD is the best-known credit rating company in China, and this year produced its first report rating the debt of 50 sovereign nations. The United States Treasury, traditionally rated amongst the safest investments in the world in similar Western reports, dropped two notches in security.
  4. High-end medical devices: in a country whose exports have predominately been dominated by entry-level electronics, a handful of China manufacturers are expanding their prowess to in-house technologies focusing in X-ray machines and dental equipment.
  5. Starbucks Coffee:The Seattle coffee powerhouse produces much more coffee than any one customer will see on the shelves at a local caf? Around the world, Starbucks produces and promotes coffees available to only a limited market. Over the past two years, Starbucks has developed South of the Clouds with beans from China's Yunnan province. The brew is currently only for sale in China, but is often used as gifts during shareholders meetings to expose members to one of the companys' rare coffees.

4 Things You Didn't Know Were Chinese

China's wine-drinking population is growing every year, with Chinese investors beginning to make deals with French wineries. Image courtesy of
  1. Chateau Richelieu: "China" and "wine" may not seem to go hand-in-hand, but it is a quickly-growing market, with China's wine consumption growing 15% in just one year. Richelieu's previous owners still work at the winery, but its new Chinese direction will take over sales and distribution in and around mainland China.
  2. Cleveland Cavaliers: The first major Chinese investment in an American sports franchise, Kenny Huang and a group of fellow investors bought 15% stake in the Cavaliers franchise and arena in 2010. Even without the great LeBron, the Cavaliers will surely be increasingly popular with its new overseas audience.
  3. Lenovo:For those who have tried to stay loyal to any IBM products throughout the years, they have inevitably run into the Lenovo. The Beijing-based computer tech company bought IBM in 2005 and has succeeded in becoming the fourth-largest seller of laptops in the world. In addition, Lenovo is one of the leading environmentally friendly computer companies, perhaps helping support its success.
  4. American Yuncheng Gravure Cylinder: If you're not a part of the soda-bottle label industry, you've probably never heard of Yuncheng. Same goes if you live outside of Spartanburg, South Carolina. But for the American factory workers who are creating the cylinders to create those round labels like you see on bottles of Coca Cola, you are well aware that Yuncheng is one of the growing numbers of businesses relocating to the United States because, surprisingly, it is cheaper.

3 Myths of Chinese Manufacturing

China may be the world's most prolific exporter, but it is not the only important factor to the country's economic growth.
  1. China's manufacturing prowess lies in low-cost clothing and cheap consumer electronics.

    While clothing and electronic equipment like DVD players are a part of the top 10 Chinese imports to the United States, China is most profitable exporting laptops and computer parts for companies such as Dell and Apple who outsource 95 - 100 percent of their marts manufacturing to China and Southeast Asia.

  2. Exporting is the most important factor in China's economy

    Exports currently only make up about 10-12 percent of China's gross domestic product and 20 percent of its annual growth. While exports are certainly key influencers in the future of China's economy, the country's success so far has relied on domestic spending and investment.

  3. In an effort to encourage sustainability and local businesses, the United States is abandoning outsourcing efforts.

    Dell made headlines in early 2010 when they announced they were removing their labor forces and equipment from China. Were they bringing the jobs back to Dell's home country? No - the company decided to shift their outsourcing to India, citing concerns about Chinese laws. Internet companies like Google and Go Daddy Inc. have both struggled with China's censorship laws, but many companies continue to seek out China's ever-strengthening manufacturing expertise.

2 New Things China is Trying

  1. Made in China PR campaign. In early 2010, a group of Chinese trade associations and China's Ministry of Commerce hired Manhattan-based ad agency DDB for a 30-second commercial countering the backlash from a slew of product recalls throughout 2009. The commercial focused on the message, when it says Made in China,"it really means Made in China, made with the world," and portrayed a variety of products with labels such as "Made in China with European styling,"and "Made in China with software from Silicone Valley."
  2. Exploring the "green" trend. Global scrutiny of Chinese manufacturing practices coupled with a global focus on sustainability has propelled China into the eco-friendly market. From energy-efficient LEDs to greener automotive parts, China manufacturers are ramping up to stay relevant in the evolving global market.

1 Thing That Still Makes No Sense

Fortune cookies are nowhere to be found in China.
  1. Fortune cookies have their origins in Japanese crackers and are virtually unheard of anywhere in China (or Japan, for that matter).
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