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Loving Chinese

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When I bought a Tuff-Luv Kindle case from Amazon two springs ago, I happily opened the box sent by a British company. Out fell a slip of paper that said Made in China. I laughed. My posh, purple, leather case had gone half way round the world before coming right back around it to make it to my doorstep.

It happened again with a pair of Alegria shoes (one of the best casual footwear lines for women in the world, I think). Alegria is created by the California-based PG Lite. Of course, their Singapore store sent me my pair, but it was still Made in China.

Made in China no longer carries the stigma it once did, thanks to brands like Lenovo and even Apple. According to a China Daily story last year, each iPhone sold adds as much as US$275 to the US-China trade deficit.

Of course, a report by three American professors says that less than US$10 in Chinese labor wages goes into each iPhone or iPad. Yes, despite Foxconn, which the professors refer to as more of an assembler.

All this makes me suspect that the only stigma attached to the Made in China tag these days has more to do with American lobbyists defending Tim Cook by saying that all the high-wage, white-collar jobs at Apple have been kept on US soil.

Food, however, is another matter. After all the food-related controversies emanating from China, not a few Chinese Filipinos are suspicious about food coming from the mainland if they are unfamiliar with its source.

Even some southern-mainland friends continue to hop on the train or bus to Hong Kong or Macau to this day just to get milk for their children. Or, maybe, bring some home from the Philippines when they happen to visit.

My bias about food extends beyond Made in China brands though. For example, I’m suspicious about any tinned food that travels half way around the world. And bears an expiration date that’s long after the death of several generations of whatever animal is in the can.

But, other than food, I care little whether what I buy online or at a designer store was made, assembled, bred, or buttered in China or anyplace else. I look at any product on its own merit, regardless of brand or provenance. Naturally, all things being equal, I’ll pick the one that’s Made in the Philippines.

Print ed: 03/13


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