Manufacturers gain credibility in EU market
Updated: 2013-03-12 05:40
By Ding Qingfen (China Daily)
Chinese companies challenge their Western counterparts by catching up in the fields of technology and quality, reports Ding Qingfen in London
Two to three decades ago, nobody would have said goods made in China were superior to those produced in European nations, especially Germany, which boasted some of the world's top technologies and brands.
Now things have changed.
Despite the growth slowdown for Chinese shipments amid the European Union debt crisis, some Chinese manufacturers are challenging their European counterparts and gaining popularity in the region, thanks to their growing sophistication in manufacturing, advanced technology and quality.
In his 20-square-meter office in the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust in London, Wu Feng, a professor of surgery, receives many patients with different types of tumors every day.
"I am always proud of my job", which "offers me the opportunity to show people here how excellent made-in-China medical devices are", Wu said, referring to the huge, tumor-treating medical devices he works with every day. Lying in the center of Wu's office, the devices are produced by Chongqing-based Haifu Medical Technology Co Ltd.
"The hospitals introduced the HIFU machine in early 2002, and at that time, the British doctors and professors were surprised that Chinese companies were capable of making such high-end machines, some of which were considered years ahead of their European counterparts," Wu said.
In the past decade, the HIFU machines have cured hundreds of patients around the UK, and in 2005, Chongqing Haifu received the European Economic Area's CE certificate, in a signal that the European market will open to the Chinese medical-device supplier without barriers.
Currently, nine European countries, including Italy, have adopted 23 HIFU machines.
"I am hugely impressed with the HIFU," said David Cranston, consultant urological surgeon and senior clinical lecturer in surgery at the University of Oxford, who also works in the HIFU unit in Oxford.
"We think it is three to five years ahead of everybody else worldwide, and it has a lot of advantages."
Besides the medical treatment, "the price of the machine is less than half of those from other companies, like GE", he said.
For years, China has had the image of being a low-cost workshop where quality is inferior and ideas are always copied - or stolen - from the West.
But while the Chinese government enhances its efforts to assist domestic companies on innovation and as their globalization process accelerates, companies like HIFU are gradually shifting the global preconception.
"Absolutely, HIFU has completely changed my mindset of made-in-China goods. Before HIFU, I thought Chinese brands were cheap and maybe not so good," Cranston said.
"I believe China could produce cheap medical machines yet with the same quality, or even higher quality, because Chinese people are extremely hard-working and good researchers," he said.