Chinese Maker Ecosystem

Production is woven into daily life across China. Over the past sixty years, a socialist focus on industrialization led into a “market socialist” export-led economic miracle.  Along the way, rural communities built factories, hundreds of millions of people left the land for work along the eastern coast, and robust networks of industrial clusters emerged. These regional networks are comprised of thousands or even tens of thousands of companies that benefit from co-location, creating a competitive local economy of knowledge, skills, and processes. They have been concentrated in the coastal regions, most notably in the Pearl River Delta near Hong Kong, the Yangtze River Delta near Shanghai, and the Bohai-rim region near Beijing.

New manufacturing clusters are also growing as industry moves into China’s western half, drawn by cheaper local labor, growing domestic consumer markets, and the raw materials of the less-developed west. Regional governments have become more involved in branding themselves by specific industries, for everything from Wuxi photovoltaics to the consumer electronics sector in Dongguan. As Yu Zhou, professor of geography at Vassar College, notes, “These clusters take a long time to form. Even though they seem to react fast, it is not something you can build quickly.” During a period in which American manufacturing has declined, China has created a vibrant ecology of production that has no global rival in terms of scale and diversity. “It is not just about low cost,” notes Liam Casey, CEO of supply chain management company PCH, “but about skills and ecosystem and infrastructure.” Think of it as a foundation for future growth—not just for the Chinese nation, but for a new kind of manufacturing that will disrupt traditional models of innovation, product cycles, and profits.

China’s tightly integrated manufacturing web has also become a force for the production of black market goods at a scale and pace that has upended global consumer electronics, apparel, and cosmetics industries, though this list may grow. It is a giant experiment in global commerce with erratic conformity to current laws on intellectual property. This experiment offers us one evolving model of open fabrication that raises important questions for the future. Let’s take a closer look.

Next: Shanzhai Factories and Knowledge Sharing

Prev: Open Fab Community 2: China’s Shanzhai

  1. Good day quite cool internet site!! Man.. Outstanding.. Superb.. I will bookmark your internet site and take the feeds additionally!KI’m glad to seek out numerous helpful information here in the put up, we need work out extra techniques in this regard, thanks for sh&&8nga#i230;r#8230;

  2. However, open source hardware is gaining increasing attention from manufacturing giants. Major campaigners for the Maker Movement, Maker Faire and the founder of

  1. No trackbacks yet.