[Harp-L] Re. Made in China

Brendan Power bren@xxxxx
Mon Jun 19 12:37:55 EDT 2017

Steve Baker has definitively replied to the main query about where the
Special 20 and other Hohner models are made, but it's interesting to read
the comments on this topic on the list, and others sent to me privately. The
point of my post about "Who cares where something is made as long as it's
good?" was to offset a common prejudice against Chinese-made products that I
think is uninformed and out of date. However, it persists, as evinced by
this off-list message to me (naming no names):


"As from experience anything made in China is no where near as good as ever
and until they have manufacturing standards things made there will always be


That's just out of date nonsense. Modern Chinese manufacturers in all fields
use tools and machinery as good as if not better than elsewhere in the
world, and produce a huge amount of high-tech gear - probably including much
stuff the writer owns.


To his credit, Robert Hale expresses his opinion publicly: "a great product
at a low price is certainly a win for the consumer. If I knew the conditions
of the factory workers in a state-owned dictatorship, I might feel


This conflates two common prejudices against China: that downtrodden factory
workers are forced into harsh working conditions by a dictatorial
government. Certainly as far as the harmonica companies are concerned, it's
not true. In 2015 I visited many of the main harmonica factories in China,
mostly centred around the city of Wuxi in Jiangsu province: Easttop, Swan,
Kongsheng, Golden Butterfly. I found bustlingly efficient operations with
modern computer-aided machinery and highly-skilled mostly women workers
doing the detailed reed attachment/gapping/tuning work. 


>From the complaints of a couple of the bosses against competitors poaching
their staff, I know for a fact that the companies compete for the best
workers by offering higher wages/better conditions. No one is forced to stay
where they don't want to be by the company or the government - that's a
complete myth. 


I came away with nothing but admiration for the dedicated work ethic and
high reed skills of the shopfloor workers, and was equally impressed by the
adoption of modern computer-guided machinery for critical mechanical
operations like plate stamping and reed profiling. I also have a lot of
respect for the drive and ambition of the various harmonica company bosses.
All very different personalities, what they share in common is a no-nonsense
down-to-earth approach - they seem very in touch with the factory workers at
all levels. In my business dealings with a couple of the company bosses
(Easttop and Kongsheng), I like the fact they make decisions quickly, give
firm deadlines and stick to their promises.


China has changed a huge amount since the days of Mao, but unfortunately
many foreigners' prejudices still date back to that time. I think Westerners
need to go to China before expressing ill-informed opinions on the country
and its products - they will likely come away as I have done: humbled and
impressed. Instead of belittling or lecturing the Chinese, we should be
learning from them - they have a lot to teach us.



 <http://www.brendan-power.com/> www.brendan-power.com



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