Made in China: The cultural logic of OEMs and the manufacture of low-cost technology

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14 Citations (Scopus)


This paper investigates the conditions of the manufacture of low-cost technology in China with the examples of 'pirated' VCD players, 'no-name' DVD players, and Shenzhen's development as a techno-urban city. It emphasizes the significance of the cultural logic of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and argues that the various transformations and deflections that are derived from ubiquitous OEM experiences have gone beyond the original model of an authorized OEM, experiences that are to some extent embodied in the transgression of brand name and patent hegemonies, which are mainly controlled by high technology companies. OEMs have been associated with China's current imperative and uninhibited development of low-cost technology capitalism. 'Made in China' signifies the production of any product, legal or illegal, for transnational high technology giants or domestic technology manufacturers. Learning to 'become an OEM' in China has partly resulted in excessive technological mimesis that may be part of an unauthorized, underground economy that is based on low-cost technology. Based on the Shenzhen experience, part of this study will show industrial production-oriented OEM cultures in which illegal operations and counterfeit trade are incorporated, even in city projects that are shared by municipal governments and Chinese technological companies, and undergo spatial restructuring in the development of the economy, consumerism, and urbanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-46
Number of pages20
JournalInter-Asia Cultural Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Assembly
  • Brand
  • Brand-sticking
  • High-tech empire
  • Low-cost technology
  • Made in China
  • OEM
  • Patent
  • Technological mimesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies


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