'Made in China' is no oddity to US consumers. Chinese imports, which range from machinery to furniture to footwear, have established a permanent and ubiquitous presence in everyday life. A cotton t-shirt with 'made in China' on its tag is not subject to special expectationsit'll hold in the wash, it'll bear many years of use. It's just a t-shirt and we expect it to fulfill its role. 'Made in China' is familiar, standard, reliable.
Underneath this mundane phenomenon, however, is a beehive of activity and change. With recent hikes in workers wages, the renminbi currency shifts, China is leaving behind its reputation as a 'cheap labor, cheap export' country and moving toward domestic consumption, according to a recent New York Times article titled 'China's Export Economy Turning Inward'. Product quality as a whole is improving, whether for international exportation or domestic use. China is quickly shedding the days of 'toxic toys' and product recalls. Trade between the US and China has seen a steady rise in the past decade. In 2000, China's trade with the US totaled 16.3 billion dollars. In 2007, the year the New York Times wrote the article 'China reveals deep consumer product quality problems', trade totaled 65.2 billion dollars. In 2009, Sino-American trade has reached close to 70 billion. Chinese-made products have an indelible role in everyday American life, appearing in a diverse variety of stores, from Costco to Target to high-end department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue. US consumers expect quality whether they are buying shoes or glasses or changing their cars' tires--and China is delivering.