Competing with China

Old Tram

Can the west slow down the China train?

I often hear at dinner parties something like the following: ‘How can we possibly compete with China, India, or Vietnam…the workforce is too large, too willing to work long hours, and they can’t call off sick.’

I’ll admit, it’s not easy for a company operating in the west in areas that involve manufacturing. I’ll also admit that it’s a tough argument to sell to Spain, given the 21% unemployment rate. However, while it may be difficult to compete with generic products, the west does have some advantages including:

  1. Intellectual property protection
  2. Culture of overcoming obstacles and problem solving
  3. Better technology
  4. The ability to combine design and function

The last item refers to the ability to appeal to the sub-conscious – the product or service just feels right – and people will pay for that. For example, if we would all take our fashion advice from pre-20 year old Scott – a friend of mine – we would all be walking around in Vietnamese-made $2 plain white t-shirts.

Because we are not, the west still has hope. Western companies might as well get out of the plain white t-shirt business, but do not need to give up on the clothing business.

If western companies can convince us Americans that watches the size of meteors are fashionable, we can innovate our way out of almost any mess.


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2 Responses to “Competing with China”

  1. Mike Says:


    Good work on this one. I agree that America currently does have a clear advantage over China in “creatively” solving complex problems.

    Also, I feel like at some point China’s lack of human rights will catch up with them.


  2. David Rajakovich Says:

    Thanks, Mike. I appreciate the comment. Agreed that human rights and other issues that Europe and the US have faced/are facing will eventually surface in Chinese society…success brings its own set of challenges.

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