China Focus: New image of Made-in-China

Date : 2015-05-29  | From : Xinhua

When Chinese technology firm DJI was founded in 2006, the idea of civilian drones was far beyond the grasp of ordinary consumers.

In less than 10 years, the Shenzhen-based company is now a leading manufacturer of commercial and recreational drones for aerial photography and videography. Its products currently account for almost 70 percent of the market share worldwide, with Europe and North America its biggest customers.

"We can proudly say DJI opened up the civilian-drone market," said Shao Jianhuo, director of the company's public relations department.

DJI is one of the many emerging Chinese companies refuting the long-existing image - cheap and low-quality- of Chinese products.

"We hope we will change the established international perceptions of Chinese products," Shao said.

In the past, Chinese companies managed to eke out a living by taking advantage of low labor costs and cheap resources to engage in low-end manufacturing of products such as garments, toys, and shoes. Scarcely have companies earned a global reputation for premium quality or taste.

Sometimes referred to as the "world's factory", nearly 90 percent of China's manufactured and exported goods are not indigenous brands. The country is still far from becoming a true manufacturing powerhouse.

Take the domestic market as an example, notable high-end products from cars to cosmetics have for long been dominated by brands from developed markets.

With the government's efforts to accelerate industrial upgrades, restructure the economic growth pattern and encourage innovation in the new century, things are gradually beginning to change.

Comfortable and safe trains made by China CNR currently provide 80 percent of rail transport services in Rio de Janeiro, host city of the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Li Tiezheng, a Chinese mechanic dispatched by the CNR to serve the city's subway operation during the FIFA World Cup last year, recalled being praised by European passengers after they discovered the trains had come from China.

"It's really cool being a Chinese at that moment," Li said.

A subway company in the Brazilian megacity has ordered 604 subway and commuter trains from Chinese manufacturers. Some 90 trains which the Chinese manufacturers will deliver soon may be used for the Olympics.

During his visit to Brazil last week, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang took a ride on a subway train in Rio, which "has mature technologies and runs stably," as described by the train driver.

Li told Brazilian officials that China has superior technologies and powerful equipment manufacturing capacity in railroad transport, and China-made products are cost-effective and adaptable to various markets.

In recent years, Chinese Internet companies such as Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent have also gained global stardom.

China's ZTE, a provider of telecom equipment and network solutions, ranks the fourth-largest smartphone manufacturer in the United States and the second-largest in the off-contract market, while Chinese herbal cosmetic maker Herborist has established a name in Paris, providing Chinese-style cosmetics and SPA services to customers.

"The biggest challenge to the internationalization of Chinese products is a negative existing perception of Made-in-China. To change such an impression, Chinese companies must establish brands," said Wang Haizhong, a researcher on Chinese branding at Guangzhou-based Sun Yat-sen University.

In order to transform China from a world factory into a world manufacturing power, the State Council, or the cabinet, unveiled the "Made in China 2025" plan earlier this month. Analysts said the plan will provide opportunities for Chinese companies to strengthen brand building.

According to the BrandZ rankings provided by Millward Brown in January, the total value of China's 100 most valuable brands topped 460 billion U.S. dollars in 2015, which grew 59 percent since the ranking was launched in2011. The growth rate was faster than the 41-percent increase registered for the BrandZ Top 100 most valuable global brands.