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国际动态

“中国制造”逆袭了?

近日美国《基督教科学箴言报》刊登的一篇文章令外界再次聚焦“中国制造”。文章称,如今中国商品与日本制造的产品同样耐用,与台湾地区等高科技中心制造的产品同样精密。在几十年来一直生产粗制滥造的产品后,中国的产品质量正逐步提升。
 
改革开放以来,“中国制造”在迅速以低廉价格席卷世界的同时,也饱受着“质量低劣”的指责。有数据显示,中国制造业每年因质量问题直接损失就超过1000亿元人民币,假冒伪劣商品造成的直接损失更达2000亿元人民币——如何甩掉“质量差”的帽子,已经成为“中国制造”未来能否进一步开拓市场、提升竞争力的关键所在。恰在此时,上述文章似乎让外界看到了“中国制造”的巨大转变,中国各大门户网站争相转载并冠之以“中国制造逆袭”的标题。
 
“中国制造”真的已经成功逆袭,可以与日本等国家和地区的产品比肩了吗?且慢乐观。
 
首先,中国是制造大国,但还并未成为制造强国,尽管产品质量与此前相比已大幅提升,但仍以大量生产低端产品为主,科技含量高、附加值高的产品数量远远不及其他制造强国。如今国际市场竞争以质量和技术竞争为主,而这两方面恰恰是中国在国际贸易竞争中的短板,其中仅在2014年,中国就有1/3左右的出口企业受到海外技术贸易措施的影响。
 
另一方面,中国仍缺少能够与海外知名品牌相抗衡、具有一定国际影响力的自主品牌。有统计显示,世界制造业中90%的知名商标所有权掌握在发达国家手中。如今,许多国际一线奢侈品牌都乐于在中国开设工厂,这一方面印证了“中国制造”质量的普遍上升,可以满足国际品牌对质量的极高要求,同时也反映了中国品牌建设的困境。由于没有拿得出、打得响的品牌,企业纵使拥有高效率、高质量的制造技术,也难免沦为海外品牌的代工厂。
 
因此,在讨论“中国制造”逆袭的话题时,不能仅聚焦于产品质量的提升,更应关注其背后所附加的科技和品牌价值是否也同步提升。未来“中国制造”不仅质量上乘,且在品牌和创新方面也能与强国竞争,到那时,“中国制造”才是真正成功逆袭。
 
 
《基督教科学箴言报》原文:
 
Around Asia, 'Made in China' no longer means cheap or shoddy
 
TAIPEI, TAIWAN — The “Made in China” brand has long stood for quantity not quality, for a low price rather than a top notch product.
 
But that is beginning to change. After decades of producing things that chip, break, stain, and freeze-up, product quality in China is quietly edging up.
 
From clothes to appliances to cell phones, Chinese goods are now proving to be as durable as those made in Japan and nearly as precise as those emerging from high-tech hubs like Taiwan.
 
In the same way Japan moved from making toys in the 1960s to mastering fuel-efficient cars and consumer electronics by the 1980s, China is closing the quality gap. And this new edge is starting to be ripple outwards in Asia's dynamic economies.
 
Just ask John Yen, manager of a tech manufacturer in Taipei, about Chinese quality. His voice deepens and he says, “Let me tell you” – the local lingo for “Yes, we’ve got a situation.”
 
Mr. Yen says the days of easily outpacing China in “face to face” product quality confrontations are over. “They’ve got more resources, more people and the market is bigger. This is absolute and you can see it,” says Mr. Yen, owner of Ndevr Corp that makes flash drives and data storage cards.
 
Mixture of causes for better quality
That China's quality has improved is increasingly a consensus view in Taiwan.
 
“In the past few years, the visibility and market share of Chinese brands have come up,” says Andrew Tsai, economist in Taipei with KGI Securities. “Taiwan’s brands have suffered some market share loss, and there’s definitely an impact from China.”
 
Behind this shift is the intense pressure among Chinese manufacturers to compete in export markets and also to attract buyers inside China.
 
And the most common spur to quality is simply learning from outsiders, say analysts. Chinese firms have improved through reverse engineering and copying machines from abroad. This often occurs via joint ventures with foreign companies, whose expertise and technology can be adapted
 
Take Galanz, the largest microwave oven maker in the world. The founder bought a product blueprint from Japan in 1990 and began producing ovens. Soon he persuaded foreign brands to set up their production lines in his factory, taking advantage of China's cheap labor. Galanz engineers watched how the foreign firms did things, copied them, and it was not long before the company was making microwaves for foreign brands.
 
In joint ventures, technology transfer is often mandatory. The Chinese government has long insisted that nuclear power plant manufacturers such as Westinghouse or Electricite de France share their technology in return for contracts in China. Engineers have used it as a foundation for their own technology, and now China is selling nuclear plants to the UK.
 
Factory workers learn quickly
Chinese factory workers at all levels continue to up their game.
 
Staffers and mangers in the two Chinese factories of Hong Kong-based TAL Group, a garment manufacturer, are better educated and learn more quickly than their counterparts in his factories in Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia, according to company head Roger Lee.
 
“Each time you change style, your efficiency drops because the workers have to learn to adapt,” Mr. Lee says. “Chinese sewing staff learn very well and fast.”
 
Like its East Asian peers, China began exporting when its own markets were undeveloped. Faced with global demands for consistent quality, factories had to up their game and could outpace countries like India that initially sold mostly to a domestic market.
 
China’s overseas investments rose from a few billion dollars in 2006 to $102.9 billion last year.
 
“Nobody cares whether it’s a Chinese brand or a foreign brand,” says Zhao Xiande, a professor at the China Europe International Business School in Shanghai. “They’re all made in China anyway, and quality-wise there is not really any noticeable difference.”
 
Businesspeople in Taiwan are now exploring niche product lines or ways to cooperate with Chinese companies. That may mean more weight given to high-end cloud computing systems or specializing in hardware parts that are scarce in China.
 
In South Korea, management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. counseled through an insight paper in 2010 that, “It is time for South Korea to reconsider its mindset and think about building mutually cooperative relationships with China, rather than seeing China as a less-than-equal partner.”
 
Staying ahead of China is a nonstop race here. TeamChem Materials, a Taiwanese manufacturer, has spent the past eight years developing an especially thin mobile phone film for producers in China. It’s a fifth of the price of a similar product from TeamChem’s closest competitor in Japan.
 
The company is paired with a Chinese contractor and its leaders could see the quality rising from the Chinese factories. So the Taiwanese now figure they must soon adapt.
 
“Traditionally Taiwanese will say we’re better than mainland China, but from what I’ve seen that’s not the case and in some cases quality is better in China,” TeamChem chief executive Todd Yeh says.
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