The recent attention given to adulterated toothpaste, poisoned pet food, plywood and defective tires manufactured in China has led to some media hysteria about poorly-regulated Chinese quality controls but little concern in terms of the general population. People are still shopping at Wal-Mart.
Not that the U.S. hasn’t been the bastion of quality perfection, either, but in our xenophobia we will naturally magnify the problems that other countries have out of proportion to our own. This hasn’t yet driven us back to purchasing domestic-only products. When was the last time, in fact, that “Made in the USA” carried any real weight?
It is noteworthy that U.S. interdiction (in the form of placing blame) ends with the importer, and that Chinese companies are under no obligation to pay for any recalls of any kind. I doubt, for instance, that the importer of all those defective Chinese tires will survive any lawsuits; the company is just too small to handle either the recall or the inevitable legal actions.
This will be an interesting subject to follow. Over time, Chinese quality control measures will likely improve because the Chinese have too much to lose should they be regarded as poorly-regulated with respect to Western standards. I highly expect China to follow in the footsteps of Japan, a country whose attention to manufacturing quality is well-established. In the interim, however, this may be an incentive for a few entrepreneurial types to move some types of manufacturing back onto U.S. soil.