Global Anxiety
part 1 2 3

Wee Theng Tan is President of Intel China. He's at the Beijing office.

"Well we're now approximately more than 4,000 employees, China-wide," says Wee. "The market is obviously extremely significant. It is already the largest, if you will, PC consumption country in the world."

Intel has several manufacturing plants in China, but also testing and research facilities. That reflects an important trend and, perhaps for Americans, an unsettling one. China isn't just a center of cheap labor anymore.

"Chinese manufacturers are making not only toys and clothing, but also cell phones, computers, and semiconductors - more high-end, high-value products," says Chinese economist He Jun. "China won't forever be a manufacturer of shoes and socks, jeans and t-shirts."

Right now, you can go to Sears and buy a washer and dryer made by a Chinese company, Haier. Russians are buying Chinese-made SUVs, and the Chinese car maker Brilliance is sending its first sedan to Europe this year. Soon, you might be buying a computer made, and designed, in China.

At a huge, three-story electronics market in downtown Beijing, crowds of shoppers look over computers made in the United State and Japan, and those made by Chinese companies like Lenovo and Fang Zheng.

One woman says, "We don't have a computer at home; that's why am here today to buy one for my son. I am thinking of buying a Lenovo."

Another man adds, "Chinese and foreign technology don't have big differences. Chinese brands are cheaper, and easier to get serviced. Like Lenovo, they have very good service."

Robert, here's a sign of the new world. China's biggest computer maker is Lenovo, and it recently bought IBM's PC division - those Thinkpads?

Those are now owned by Chinese?

They're now owned by the Chinese - $1.75 billion. So, an American icon partially owned by a Chinese company, which, by the way, is partially owned by the Chinese government.

Continue to part 3

©2018 American Public Media