A co-worker (of Chinese ancestry herself), who had recently returned two items made in China to “big box” stores because they were poorly made or fire hazards, suggested I read “Poorly Made in China  An Insider’s Account of the Tactics Behind China’s Production Game”. 

The author of this book, Paul Midler, has lived and worked in southern China for over a decade, speaks Mandarin fluently, has a Chinese girlfriend, and has assisted dozens of American and European companies set up contracts with Chinese manufacturers. 

The author describes his experiences dealing with Chinese manufacturers, provides an experienced observer’s view of why many Chinese companies will make last-minute price raises, substitute ingredients without first informing their non-Chinese partners, and otherwise cut corners to increase their profits.  He also points out that when Americans were told that deregulation of government restraints on company practices would provide for cheaper products, Americans were not also informed that this would entail sending many manufacturing jobs overseas, and that many products would be produced in countries where there were few consumer protection laws.  

Much of the book deals with Midler’s role as an intermediary between an American shampoo company and its supplier company near Guangzhou in southern China.  The names of the companies (and some of the author’s sources) have been changed, often at their own request, so there is clearly a widespread fear of angering the political and economic powers that be. 

Paul Midler also feels that the United States government granted Most Favored Nation  trade status for China too easily, when there was a chance for the United States to hold out for political and economic reform in China, but this opportunity was lost, as American politicians and business leaders rushed into greater levels of economic interdependency with China . 

I don’t normally read books on international business, but I enjoyed reading this one and think that others who are interested in learning more about international business would also find “Poorly Made in China” an informative read.

Some other books  on globalization available through your Alameda County Library are:

Futurecast : How Superpowers, Populations, and Globalization Will Change the Way You Live and Work / Robert J. Shapiro                            330.9 SHAPIRO 

The Shadow Market:  How a Group of Wealthy Nations and Powerful Investors Secretly Dominate the World / Eric J. Weiner                              330.90 WEINER

Global Warring : How Environmental, Economic, and Political Crises will Redraw the World Map / Cleo Paskal                                                         303.485 PASKAL 

Globalization and Its Discontents / Joseph E. Stiglitz               337 STIGLITZ

A Year Without “Made in China” : One Family’s True Life Adventure in the Global Economy / Sara Bongiorni                               382.60951 BONGIORNI

Rivals : How the Power Struggle Between China, India and Japan Will Shape Our Next Decade / Bill Emmott                                        327.11209 EMMOTT