The shanzhai dilemma, part II: all we are a bit shanzhai

This post is also available in: Spanish

“Do the Chinese manufacturers of shanghai products comply with the environmental, labour and safety and health requirements at their workplaces, as the big manufacturers of the original products are requested?”

This was the question I did the Chinese speaker who gave the lecture on China referred in the previous post, of which this entry is a continuation.

The answer in the Q&A time was the colophon to the already peculiar shanzhai world. It was an answer as short as clarifying:

Companies manufacturing and releasing these products in the Chinese and worldwide market are established and close the business within a few weeks.

Within this term that I emphasise, is measured in weeks, companies establish the equipment, workforce and store the needed raw material, make the specific products (clothes, phones, shoes, toys, electronic devices, perfumes,…) and disappear this the manufactured product which goes directly to the market.

This enables them to work outside the law, including the patents and industrial property regulations which are the main issue of claim with the big multinational owners of the original designs, but also apart from the labor, environmental, occupational safety and health and event public health regulations.

From the Chinese point of view, this brings a decisive competitive advantage as a consequence of the product´s price. Chines gobernment is aware of that and fights with no a great enthusiasm against it. Meanwhile, the country benefits from the situation. In short, plays dump.

From the point of view of the big multinational enterprises, owners of the original designs and patents, this is a situation of unfair competition, for the reasons given two paragraphs above: in a given time, someone appropriates the designs in which they invested huge amounts of resources, that someone copies clandestinely their products without meeting any of the industrial or labor requirements their are called to comply with (article in Spanish), and finally with a crude imitation of their own brands with which can barely compete in price.

There is a third point of view, the citizen, potential client of the shanzhai products. Anyone of us.

The dilemma we face is immediate and multiple: being aware of the decadent manufacturing methods of most of these products, we decide to buy them of a price reason. Not only that, but also the huge activist campaigns claiming responsibility seems to be addressed exclusively to the big western enterprises which are indeed, as a response to this pressure, the companies that are in practice improving the labor and OSH conditions along the emerging countries where they establish (article in Spanish).

In this context, isn´t our attitude a bit false? fake?

Aren´t we a little bit shanzhai?