The Chinese seem to be westernizing themselves a whole lot faster than we thought. I say that because they appear to have caught on to how to win at the public relations game. Check out this article in today's Wall Street Journal (you have to be a subscriber to read the whole thing).
Li Changjiang, the top official in China's government inspection office, apparently gave the WSJ a list of defective products that U.S. manufacturers sold to China in the first half of this year, which amount to 1.8% of all the products shipped there. This includes things like farm equipment, turbines, x-ray machines, medical devices and trucks. Oh, and homing pigeons, which I guess means if they wanted to, China could accuse the U.S. of exporting disease-ridden birds to Asia. Can you say Bird Flu 2?
Is this just all a smoke-and-mirrors act designed to deflect a steady stream of contamination problems that China's manufacturing industry under the eyes of far fewer regulatory agencies than U.S. manufacturers deal with has become known for (pet food, toothpaste, toys)? Or is there a much larger quality problem affecting not just offshore suppliers in out-of-the-way corners of the world but even big-name multi-nationals here in the United States?
I suspect that the Chinese are indeed playing a PR game here, but I also believe that these defects they're citing are real, not imagined, and that U.S. manufacturers better ensure that their own houses are in order before they try to shift the blame for product defects to somebody else.