China has an image problem.
Chinese manufacturing has come to be synonymous with cheap and of poor quality. The latest example of Chinese quality control is the Test Wicket at the Sir Viv Richards ground in Antigua. For those who don't follow cricket, the West Indies are hosting England in a series of test matches. Last Friday the second test match was abandoned because the outfield started to break up, making play dangerous (see report).
As we are told by The Times:
"The Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, built for the World Cup with money from the Chinese Government, has had a chequered history"
Quite! We have written before about our scepticism over the widely made claim that China is becoming the world's economic superpower (see post). Recent events do nothing to allay our scepticism. If China is to achieve it's industrial destiny, then it must move up the value chain by producing goods of a quality than it has so far.
At a different tangent, we are told that China is using it's soft power to create influence in places such as Africa through the construction of infrastructure projects. For example, it was recently announced that Angola is to receive a $1 billion makeover for the African Nations Cup (a soccer tournament) in 2010. The Shanghai Urban Construction Group is to build four stadia for the tournament (see report).
One wonders if these stadia will be built according to Chinese construction standards (pretty poor) or Angolan construction standards (even worse). We can also speculate about the long term goodwill created if the constructions need to be replaced after a few years.
If the stadia in Angola are on the same level as the Sir Viv Richards stadium, then we can expect the goodwill to be pretty short lived. That particular project is in need of rebuilding after only two years.