Made in China

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We don't like to think about it, or perhaps we've never thought to, but from parts to finished products our AV products come largely from China. Yes, there are other players, but China with its cheap labor dominates the AV space.

But, you say, I don't have anything in my system made in China. My loudspeakers and electronics are made in the U.S. of A, or in Canada, Europe, or Japan. While that might be true of many high-end audio products, where do you suppose that even the highest of the high-end companies get their parts — the resistors, capacitors, coils, loudspeaker drivers, and other vital pieces they need to build what they sell? And while many of these products are designed here or in Europe or elsewhere in Asia, the means to actually build them are now heavily based in China.

We have, to put it bluntly, retained the ability to create but lost much of the ability to actually build what we conceive. This includes AV products, computers, and (perhaps eventually) cars. While we have the natural resources and design know-how needed to build electric cars, solar panels, and wind turbines, we've decided, for environmental reasons (NIMBY), to farm them out to the most environmentally unfriendly country on the planet. Even the smallest of products are now imported. Ever look at the "made-in" labels on the back of, say, your packet of razors? More than likely it won't say, "Made in" but rather "Distributed by." If it says the latter you can be sure that it's made overseas and the distributor is only too happy to obscure the source, knowing that few buyers will ever look at the fine print.

Even products made outside of China aren't always clearly labeled. Many TVs these days are assembled in plants close to where they'll be marketed. Many of the TVs we receive for review are "Made in Mexico." But that likely means that they were only assembled there. The actual subsystems (the imaging panel, various electronic components, etc.) were made elsewhere and merely shipped to Mexico for final assembly.

But why, you ask, is this even important? Apart from the fact that products not made at home means lost American jobs, there's another critical reason. Have you been following the news lately? China is seriously rattling its sabers over Taiwan. We all hope it will come to nothing and settle down, but what if China chooses to grab back, by force, what it claims to be its own? Or sinks one of our aircraft carriers in the process? Could we, or would we, declare a total embargo of everything from China, and/or slap a crushing tariff on Chinese products, perhaps even including everything already on our store shelves?

While such a ban or embargo would be catastrophic for China's economy (hopefully the likelihood of that is already part of China's "do we or don't we" equation), their citizens are so tightly controlled that they could do little about it. But it would be similarly destructive to our own economy. Even without a tariff on Chinese AV products already on the shelves, their prices would either skyrocket or the shelves would soon be emptied. In that event, buy that new TV, AV receiver, or computer immediately or wait indefinitely.

Also hope that you don't need antibiotics or penicillin; two-thirds of these medical products, or their key ingredients, are imported from China. Need a shave? Grow a beard! Would we seize China assets here, or might China do the same to our assets in China? Many American, Canadian, Japanese, Korean, or European companies (such as Apple, Tesla, and Shanghai Disneyland) have their own factories, or other properties, in China. But their claims would be meaningless in the event of hostilities.

In no past conflict has so much trade linkage between possible adversaries. Think back to the recent Covid situation. Cargo ships glutted our harbors as dock workers stayed home. Later, ships were seldom full, as many Chinese factories were shuttered. The only thing that kept a lid on was the reluctance of consumers to buy (though TVs sales did thrive while folks huddled at home, wearing masks and watching old movies and cat videos!).

If such an event ever came to pass, how long after it was resolved before we felt comfortable enough to restore the current trade situation? Would we still be driven to revive our moribund home manufacturing base? How long would that take, and how would it affect the prices we've become accustomed to over years of relying on cheap Asian labor. But that situation might resolve itself as manufacturers, now based in China, move their plants elsewhere, to places such as Vietnam, Indonesia, or India. Even today, Chinese labor has become far pricier than it was decades ago when foreign investors first decided to set up shop there.

Billy's picture

Mr Norton, if China sinks one of our aircraft carriers, the lack of TVs is going to be the least of our problems. We will more concerned about the possibility of strontium in our milk supply. (they gather and multiple it after a nuclear exposition nearby). All of this could have been avoided if our leadership (on booth sides of the political isle) would have stood by the American worker in the 1980s and 1990s. We allowed the 1% to become crazily rich at the expense of the American way of life. Sure, we got affordable gadgets, but look what has happened. We now require two college educated incomes to run a household. Our children are raised more by paid providers than their parents. There is a general malaise from a tired public. Mental health is at an all time low. The national debt is bursting at the seams. Our political class has more or less sold us to the highest bidder and has turned us against each other to keep them and their well healed friends fat and sassy. Real leadership on Washington would make made in America a way of life again. many ways to do that, but no one has told any truth about this in many a year.

HDTV1080P's picture

China makes high quality components and products for the entire world. I believe one of Thomas J Norton’s points is that since several thousands of products worldwide contain a lot of parts from China in them, including medical supplies, that any event or issue that would cause China to stop exporting products would have a massive effect on the world in terms of several thousands of products not just electronics (many medical products also use electronics) stopping in the supply chain.
When consumers purchase a made in the USA, Canada, Mexico, or South Korea product, sometimes 50% to 70% of the parts to make that product come from China. Personally, I like China and the Chinese culture, and many people see nothing wrong with buying from China. At the same time, I am a United States citizen born in the USA that prefers a Republic form of government under the Constitution for all 50 states for our country. I know many Americans and other people in the world do not like China because of their communist form of government. If China is to remain the supplier to the world for the majority of products, then politicians, companies, and people in general are going to have to work together in peace. If businesses and consumers around the world become unhappy with China then the automated factories can be built in Taiwan or some other country in the world at sometimes around the same quality but sometimes at higher prices. China does make a lot of high-quality products and components at a fair price, and there are many positives to the Chinese culture. Many tourists, consumers, and businesses have over the decades developed more than a business relationship with China but a friendship with China. Hopefully the USA and other nations can work together to have a long-lasting business relationship with China and increased tourism to China which has many beautiful scenic locations to visit. If China remains a peaceful country, then I like China, but I would have a very different point of view if China started to move away from peace.

michsullivan15's picture

Components and finished goods of superior quality are produced in China for export to other countries. Any event or issue that would cause China to stop exporting products would have a massive effect on the world in terms of several thousand products, not just electronics, stopping in the supply chain. This is one of the points that I believe Thomas J. Norton is trying to make. Since several thousand products around the world contain a lot of parts from China in them, including medical supplies, any event or issue that would cause China to stop exporting products would have this effect.

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michsullivan15's picture

There can be mixed reactions to the fact that many audiovisual (AV) products come largely from China, with some people expressing concerns about quality control, supply chain disruptions, and potential geopolitical issues, while others appreciate the affordability and variety of options available. Is anyone interested to sell my house fast dallas?

NestorHernandez's picture

I never saw China-manufactured products like this but your article has opened my eyes to this reality. The good thing is that in the last few years, companies have been trying to up the quality of their products manufactured in Asian countries. I would like to recommend my favorite Concrete repair near me

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heymeliza's picture

I noticed something in the clothing sector. The stuff that they are selling to Americans and Europeans in their physical stores or online like Amazon, Walmart etc. are really awful and substandard. The sewing is not good. The sizing is wrong and the designs are not up to par. The designs are totally cheap with no detailing, unlike what you get from designers like Calvin Klein, Jones New York, Ralph Lauren, or the clothing made within the European countries. They should be banned from selling this crap and shocking the customers who can tell the difference.

Unfortunately many shops cannot do not ship from Europe so I think government rulings is to blame and are one-sided in this affair.

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leeannpor89's picture

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mrsmarcelo's picture

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jeffreestar's picture

To reduce possible dangers, governments and businesses will need to traverse these difficulties immaculate grid and work toward resilient and diverse supply chains.

leeannpor89's picture

AV (Audio-Visual) products come largely from China due to the country's extensive manufacturing infrastructure, skilled workforce, cost-effective production capabilities, and its position as a global hub for electronics manufacturing. If interested, please visit our website at

Jackson143's picture

Later, ships were seldom full, as many Chinese factories were shuttered. home contractor Main Street District

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janejones4237's picture

Actually, all the manufacturers are in China since the country has the lowest rate of laborers amongst the people around the world. But I am just hoping they make sure that the quality is still at the 100% paver contractors sarasota

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tyrainfos's picture

I've had mixed experiences with 'Made in China' products. While some are of excellent quality, others have disappointed me. It's important to do thorough research and read reviews before making a purchase.

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