New Book: Poorly Made In China

Want to know how that lead got into your kid’s toys? Why brand-name goods come in containers that fall apart. Or how radioactive cookery ended up on store shelves? A new book out by Paul Midler, Poorly Made In China, promises the inside scoop on why products made in China are as shoddy (and often as dangerous) as seemingly possible.

As a former consultant to American importers, Midler has worked on the frontlines of Chinese manufacturing. The National Review describes one of the strategies he covers in the book:

From the point of view of a Chinese manufacturer, the world is divided into “first” and “second” markets. In the first market – North America, Western Europe, Japan, Australia, and some lesser outposts of legal order – new product designs originate, and the designs are protected by patent, trademark, and copyright laws.

Chinese manufacturers want business relationships with customers in these places — so much so that they’ll even sometimes sell to them below cost. But then they’ll turn around and

…sell knock-offs of their designs to Latin America and the Middle East, where intellectual-property protection is not so valued. This arbitrage game explains the curious fact that Chinese-made products are often more expensive in the developing world than in the U.S.A. That’s where the profits are made.

Chinese Junk: The problems underlying China’s pathologies [National Review]
Poorly Made in China by Paul Midler [Barnes & Noble]

Carrie McLaren & Jason Torchinsky are coeditors of Ad Nauseam: A Survivor’s Guide to American Consumer Culture. In previous lives, they worked together on the hopelessly obscure and now defunct Stay Free! magazine .