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Unmade in China: hidden truth about China’s economic miracle

Unmade in China: hidden truth about China’s economic miracle

A sobering assessment of the economic risks in China’s manufacture and supply chains, and a heartening look at how businesses in the West can find opportunity in these challenges by selling goods and services to China, are highlighted in a new book; Unmade in China.

Jeremy Haft’s analysis of China’s intricate supply chains reveals an economy which struggles to make baby formula safety, much less a nuclear power plant. Informed by years of experience building new companies in China, research visits to nearly 1,000 factories and backed up with the figures to prove it, in his new book ‘Unmade in China’ Haft uncovers a reality of systemic risk at the heart of Chinese manufacturing that provides the West with both challenges and opportunities.

He reveals a startling picture of rampant non-compliance in product quality, management protocols and governance in Chinese manufacturing that has created increased demand for western-made products and services in China. Now even low-tech products such as doorknobs, clothes and furniture all contain materials from western companies. About half of every dollar spent in America on goods coming from China flows back to US firms. Indeed, perceiving foreign goods as safer, China is importing from the West in such volume that millions of jobs are sustained through Chinese trade and investment.

In his book, Haft presents a convincing case for harnessing this opportunity by selling safety into China and opening up to Chinese investment. The Chinese market is one of the fastest growing export destinations for European goods and services. In fact, Europe is China’s number one source of imports today, beating Taiwan, Japan – and America, which ranks as China’s fifth largest source of imports. These exports to China support over three million European jobs.

Haft’s book takes a new look at China’s so-called rise and the implications for European competitiveness in the coming century. It takes us on a walk through the supply chain of how stuff is made – or rather unmade – in China, and shows us first hand how risk is a systemic defect in China’s economy. Haft argues that a lack of good and credible economic data has contributed to our China myopia.

The publication of the book is timely, with China’s president Xi Jinping on a four-day visit to the UK – the first state visit to the UK by a Chinese leader since 2005 and hailed by officials from both countries as the start of a ‘golden era’ of relations. The Treasury hopes to establish China as Britain’s second biggest trading partner within ten years. And there is good reason to push for better trade relations with China; it’s well-publicised reduced growth of 6.9% is still going to be more than the entire British economy for the next five years. Chancellor George Osborn said: “Even as China’s growth slows, it will continue to be a powerhouse for the global economy. There will be many new opportunities for the UK.”

For its part, talking about its relationship with the West, China has called for more understanding and trust, and less estrangement and suspicion, and has sought to reassure the West that China is open to foreign business.

"Unmade in China: The Hidden Truth about China's Economic Miracle" is available from Polity Books, in hardback, priced £16.99.

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