Buying Food Machines from China
I'm a little worried about buying machines from china due to quality issues, but is it generally a hit or miss with encrusting machines? I have a choice between machines here or in Japan, but even machines 10 years old in Japan are expensive. Does China have an infamous reputation for cooking machines? I assume as long as the parts are inter changable it shouldn't be too risky.
I used to work for a major canadian retailer developing and buying kitchen appliances. I can tell you that the appliance/cookware/gadgets is only as reliable as the NORTH AMERICAN/EUROPEAN company that is buying it. There are loads of poor quality things coming out of China but it is the brand (Kitchen Aid, Cuisinart) or retailer (Macy's, William Sonoma) that decides what they buy and how rigoursly they are going to test it.
Whether it is the brand or the retailer buying it they set the testing standards and ensure the product meets THEIR quality. The minimum level should be the required Canadian/American/European standards. National standards usually only test for safety and minimum performance and don't go into detail for how long the coffee machine or slow cooker will last. Certain companies likely have higher standards which will get you a coffee maker that brews hotter, or a slow cooker that holds a more even temperature or an espresso machine that gets to a higher pressure.
If you are really concerned call the customer service line and ask what their testing standards are and what their policy is for recalls. They likely won't tell you the exact standards but you can get an idea.
It is great to blame China but in the end it is up to the brands and retailers to make the smart decisions about the quality of product they are buying.
As right as you are, the issue becomes, you can't just call an 800 number and talk to someone who actually knows under what circumstances the products are manufactured under. Some companies have engineering and quality professionals from the US stationed in "China" that actually oversee production and production standards, others do not. As you wrote, the ones that do make a passable product although my experience has been the products are still not as good as they were in the past. However, I must say the paradime has shifted and there remains the very likely possibility that if the products were still manufactured in the US that they would have been dummied down and cheepened to a point similar to where they are now. The serious issues are with products that are not under the direct supervision of American engineers, a lot of customers I have that don't have a good connection to their manufacturing, do not have good success with items made in China. In the end you just have to do as much research as you can.
There are so many posts portraying "China" as some Borg-like villain that are bred in fear and misunderstanding. Perhaps the China of 40 years ago could be considered of a like mind and unified goal (as wrong as that impression may be) but the reality is that we get a lot of things from China that are well-made. I'm in middle-age but I still remember people talking about "that cheap Japanese-made junk" and I was mocked by my friends when I bought my first Japanese car in the late 1970's (many of those friends now drive Acura and Lexus models).
Short answer is: don't generalize. Best thing is to investigate and do some research on others' experiences. That's true whether it's made across the street, across the continent or across the world. I own Chinese made appliances that are excellent and others that are disappointing. But it's not fair to say it's all junk (and even when you buy locally-assembled you have no idea where their components are sourced).