China has a bad reputation when it comes to the quality of the products it manufactures. I really dislike blanket statements, especially when they are not well-informed, so I decided to investigate.

First up, I need a case study. Someone who has lived in China for a while and has experienced first-hand a wide variety of products and who is not afraid of making controversial statements.

Oh…I know someone! ME! Here we go then…

Item 1 – Bed

The bed is the cornerstone of a person’s personal space. It defines them and their personal life (I am big, stained and unkempt (I’m only half joking)). I think it was around four weeks after arriving in Shanghai that my bed first broke, and having looked underneath it it seemed like a miracle that it had taken any sort of exercise at all.

It’s quite fortunate that I sleep alone, as trying to teach a newcomer the intricacies of body positioning to avoid falling through the mattress would be quite a task.

Item 2 – Lights

The lights have an explosion routine of around one per week. Luckily our fittings use 5 bulbs each, and so it takes a while until we notice. *Pop*!

Item 3 – Front door

We were suprised to find all of our keys not working the other night. Oytun tried to use a weapon to break the door down, but when it didn’t work, we called the (24 hour) locksmith who quickly drilled the hell out of the door and let us in.

Item 4 – Washing machine

The washing machine has broken at least three times, each requiring a call-out and a 300rmb fine payment. There seems to be no explanation for the breakdowns, other than the mysterious ‘PP’ message on the display.

Item 5 – Water boiler

Just last week, the water boiler began leaking, and then broke down. We’ve been informed that it will cost 1800rmb to replace, or if we choose to simply repair the old one it will be 600rmb per hit (which would be every couple of weeks).

Item 6 – TV

The four corners of our TV look like a rainbow. Colours are often inverted or have the hint of a Global Hypercolour t-shirt. The aerial works patchily, but even when it does work the channels kinda suck (sorry CCTV!).

Item 7 – Radio controlled helicopter

Ok this one doesn’t really deserve to be in the list, as we bought and then crashed it into the wall of the living room. It hasn’t flown well since then, but either way I don’t think China can be blamed.

Item 8 – Toilet

While I was in London this Summer, the toilet flusher snapped. I subsequently ‘fixed’ it, which means it now breaks every other week or so.

Item 9 – Tumble dryer

This also perhaps shouldn’t be in the list, as it hasn’t broken per se, it just is a piece of crap which couldn’t heat a bag of popcorn (never mind dry a tshirt).

Item 10 – The whole building

Finally, over the past three months, the whole building has been slowly being destroyed. Drilling has replaced digging which had replaced scraping as the constant soundtrack to our flat. Right now, the walls outside the flat are bare stone, the tiles which once covered the floor are in a pile outside the building and wires hang down from the ceiling, threatening to electrocute anyone over 5’6″. Lucky we’re midgets!


There is little or no evidence to support the idea that anything that is ‘Made in China’ is any less reliable than, say, something fabricated by rubber bands or yoghurt. Or chocolate sauce. Caveat emptor!


  1. This has got to be the ‘good life’ lifestyle-tax..

  2. Q: What happens when “mr. madeinchina” meets “mr. richter”….?


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