GUANGDONG: When a newly-bought toy, electronic device or any inexpensive item malfunctions or is destroyed after using it a few times, we often hear people say right away that it must be from China.
Some were quick to say that when it is from China, it must be faked. Or, when an item is faked, they would say it must be from China.
Look at consumer items sold in a grocery or supermarket, or a department store or mall and in every corner you would certainly find something, probably most of the things, made in China.
China appears to be aware of that stigma that its products that are mass produced are of low quality. Low quality means cheap price.
But with China’s transformation from a sleeping to a roaring dragon of the 21st century, the government and Chinese entrepreneurs are working to make their products known globally for quality.
Meeting with journalists from Southeast Asia and South Asia who participated in the recently-concluded seventh 10+3 Media Cooperation Forum in Beijing, Liu Yunshan, spoke of a “new economic normal” in China as it strives to be the world economic leader. Mr. Liu Yunshan is the No. 5 man in the hierarchy of the Central Committee of the Chinese People’s Party (CPC).
He said China has been introducing new ideas, new initiatives in linking the economies of the Asia Pacific with Europe and the world through the 21st century Maritime Silk Road.
“We are increasing exchanges and cooperation. We need joint efforts with all countries to adapt to the change, to adapt to the new normal,” he said during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
Asia, he noted, is emerging as the center of the world with its economic size. By 2015, he said, Asia would hopefully achieve to have half of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) through closer and stronger cooperation “for the long-term prosperity of Asia.”
“One Asia would come true only if the people around the world accept the Asian standard as the global standard,” Mr. Liu Yunshan said in stressing the importance of improving the efficiency and quality of products and services in Asia.
You Jianhua, director general of the Coordination Bureau, International Department of the CPC Central Committee, said that by 2020 China aims to double its 2010 GDP and realize the Chinese dream of providing a better life to its 1.3 billion people.
You Jianhua, who is also secretary general of China NGO Network for International Exchanges (CNIE), said that China’s enterprises are “becoming more efficient and quality-based.”
At the Zhongguancun National Innovation Demonstration Zone, a two-hour drive from Beijing, we were shown samples of impressive products on water treatment, biotechnology and healthcare equipment, IT, 3D printing and displays technologies to show that China has products that can compete well globally.
In Kunming, the capital and largest city in Yunnan province, we were brought to the manufacturing plant of the Yunnan Bai-yao traditional Chinese medicine in a new industrial park in Chenggong district. We were shown samples of innovative products and technology that it has patented as it aspires to be known worldwide as a first-class pharmaceutical enterprise. The company gained popularity for its powdered medicine used by the Vietcong to stop bleeding during the Vietnam War.
Also in Yunnan, a province in southern China bordering Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, we were brought to a cluster of 57 companies engaged in jewelry and handcrafted products that showed original designs, mostly of jadeites and other gemstones.
Yet, it may take China a long time to erase the notoriety for producing and selling counterfeit goods, especially in known shopping areas.
In Shenzhen, a major city in the south of Guangdong that has become China’s first and one of the most successful special economic zones, a tour guide reminded visitors to not expect goods sold in bargain stores are original. They might look original, she said, and priced close to the original product, but don’t be deceived because those are not original; bargain at least half the offered price.
Shenzhen is China’s youngest city, founded just 30 years ago. It was a fishing village known as Bao’an County with 300,000 people. Now, Shenzhen is a bustling city with modern cityscape with 15 million people. It boasts of a huge airport that was opened a year ago. It also has one of the busiest container ports in the world.
Shenzhen is located in the south of Southern China’s Guangdong province and can be reached from the north of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region via a 20-minute train ride.
Shenzhen is home to the headquarters of Huawei, a global leader of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) solutions. Since 1997, Huawei, a private company owned by its 150,000 employees, has been serving the top telecom operators in the Asia Pacific region via its Carrier Network business group.
It also works with operators all over Europe, including British Telecom (BT), Deutsche Telekom (DT), Vodafone, France Telecom/Orange (FT), Telefónica O2, Telecom Italia, Swisscom, Telenor, TeliaSonera and KPN, among others.
In Guangzhou, China’s ancient commercial center where the Maritime Silk Road begins, our group were brought to the Guangzhao South China Ocean Gate Container (GOCT), the fifth largest container port in China, and to the Chins State Shipbuilding Corp. (CSSC) and showed us their huge capacity volumes for trade and investments.
Guangzhou is touted to have emerged as the most vibrant commercial city in China with its impressive blending of ancient architectures and towering modern buildings that embodies the traditional Cantonese culture and a pioneer of China’s reform and modernization.
Having spent two weeks in China’s industrial and touristy areas had completely changed the image of the communist country that was etched in my mind on my first visit more than two decades ago. Indeed, China is open and ready for global business.