Why producing in China?

Dear BertG,

Thanks a lot for the additional information. One less thing I need to search.

Best regards,


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That got me interested again.
Here’s the actual “Gigaset” homepage on “Made in Germany”:

It’s not just smartphones, but cordless DECT-phones and smart home systems as well.
And they seem to adress quite a few topics, that Fairphone tackles. Repairability (even for old devices); longevity, fair working conditions, eco-friendly packaging …

But they e.g. do not use fair materials for the phone.

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Dear BertG,

Yes, they make all sorts of phone related products.

They even make old-school robust, RJ11 line-powered, analog phones with cords.

Best regards,


I’d like to return to the original question of Fairphone producing in China rather than address products from China in general.

Fairphone is much more transparent about their workers’ condition than many other companies. Not only are they offering a living wage for their workers, I believe I read somewhere they’re trying to get other companies using the same factory to so the same (you can correct me if I remember this incorrectly). It seems from Fairphone’s information, by buying a Fairphone you are, in fact, positively influencing the workers’ conditions.

And this is my dilemma with buying any product: should you boycott products produced in countries where generally, conditions are bad, thus alleviating yourself of your guilty conscience, or should you still buy some of these products so as not to deprive these exploited workers of their jobs and incomes altogether? I don’t have a clear answer to this question, especially when it comes to buying clothing. It’s a nightmare because the fashion industry is so unclear about the manufacturing process, and although cheap products seem a clear give-away something fishy is going on, more expensive product can well be produced under similar circumstances.

So back to Fairphone. Couldn’t you argue that by making use of existing factories they are both alleviating the conscious consumer’s guilt while at the same time not abandoning people who depend on these jobs, but rather positively impacting their lives and actually making a change where it counts most? Yes, producing in Europe would create jobs if it were possible, but isn’t the impact of offering living-wage jobs in China much bigger? And when considering environmental impact, shouldn’t we also consider the impact of building/creating a new factory in Europe?

The only point that then remains is the shipping. That definitely is a problem, although I suppose all the different materials are already sourced all over the world, so I’m not sure you can produce local electronics as you’d grow local vegetables… Doesn’t mean it’s not worth investigating.


If you search the Fairphone homepage, you will find reports on that already; to a certain extent at least.
They tackled this by transporting the phones by train instead of using air-freight.

Here are the links:
Blog: How sustainable is the Fairphone 3?
PDF Report: Life Cycle Assessment of the Fairphone 3 (by Fraunhofer Institute)

Another aspect seems to be relevant, that is rarely mentioned.
It’s quantity.
Even if smartphones could be produced in Europe and Fairphone could go that way.
This would rather be no model, that other, bigger manufacturers of smartphones and other electronic devices (let alone textile production) could follow. There are not enough workers on the market, let alone skilled workers, to do this. E.g. the Golem article on the Gigaset factory in Bocholt mentioned, that one production line has 8 working people and I am not completely sure, if the possible weekly output of 6,000 phones is in reference to this one active production line or the possible 6 production lines, that can active in total. However; 6,000 phones a week is not exactly a lot with regard to the worldwide production.


To say that Europe does not have the skills or facilities to build and manufacture tech products is absolutely risible and a contemptible attempt to misdirect/misinform… Must I remind you that Nokia has a European phone factory? Perhaps it should be pointed out to you, that UK based computer designer and manufacturer Raspberry Pi, didn’t think that Europe had an inability to manufacture digital technology… they opened a factory in Britain and did just that.

It is bad enough that Fairphone builds it product in one of the most unfree and despotic nations in the world, but to try and claim that it is because it can’t be done in Europe, is outrageous, contemptible, deceitful, and utterly false.

There is one reason, and one reason only that Fairphone manufacture in China instead of Europe, and that is profit.

I refuse to buy a product that extols European based fairness as its primary selling point, whilst simultaneously setting up its manufacturing plant in one of the most exploitative, despotic and environmentally damaging nations in the world, just for a bit of extra profit.

It is nothing short of disgusting, and Fairphone should be shamed and named for it, and customers should steer clear of it and boycott them until they change this nonsense, and bring manufacturing home to Europe.

The environmental cost alone of building a product on the other side of the world (in one of the world’s biggest polluting states) and then shipping it halfway around the world, is disgusting… And for what? A few extra bucks on the bottom line on the backs of cheap labour? That doesn’t seem “fair” to me!

Thanks, but no thanks; I refuse to buy into the deception, and will boycott Fairphone until they grow the f*** up, and I urge others to do the same.

At least Fairphone pays relatively well, see Paying living wage
(Among other things mentioned earlier.)

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@ Nils_Ajax_Nilsson Let me start off by emphasising that I commend your ideals. That being said, I’m also convinced it’s not that simple in practice. Let me reiterate a point I made (quite) a few posts up.

I’m convinced that if you build an assembly line anywhere in Europe, and then put out job adverts, you’ll be hard-pressed to actually fill those positions. Yes, the skills can be taught and trained here as well as anywhere else and in the interest of self-sufficiency this may be a desirable thing to do, but people will only choose to pick up those skills if 1) we shift the current culture away from the idea that everyone needs a university degree to be successful, towards a society that places value on craftmanship and skilled “manual” labour, and 2) we offer a liveable wage for all those jobs that we (so wrongly) label “unskilled”. Fairphone can set the standard for 2) and factor in the cost of labour for the product, but they’ll still have trouble finding the people to do that work unless people find the means and willingness to educate themselves in those skills.

As for this point: fact of the matter is that most components inside a smartphone (panels, SoCs, ICs, PCBs, antennas, batteries) are also produced in Asia. Today there is a choice between shipping all these individual components to Europe and assemble there, or assemble in Asia and ship finished products. Out of the two, I’m pretty sure the latter will have a lower environmental impact.
Or you can suggest that we need to also produce all these individual components in Europe. I admire that idea, but before you know it you’re setting up a complete supply chain in Europe for every item from raw materials to finished phone, involving the business of what currently are hundreds of companies. Ignoring the up-front investment required, imagine how near-impossible it’d be to stamp out and hire sufficient staff for a hundred microelectronics-producing companies if we’d already struggle to staff a handful right now. And all of those companies will somehow need to achieve a scale large enough to be remotely competitive on price, meaning they need to find many customers beyond just Fairphone. This endeavour would definitely be beyond the capacity of a small company like Fairphone.

Again, I don’t think your ideals are wrong at all, but I hope you can recognise that this requires a much more long-term strategy for Europe than can be expected from a single company like Fairphone. I hope that you’ll find the way to recognise them for the steps they are making, rather than condemn them for finding a workable compromise.


I was considering buying a Fairphone. But currently, I don’t do that because:

  • Fairphone’s Policy of informing it’s customers about the roadmaps,
  • Update frequency,
  • Problems with Android 10 (not to mention Android 11…),
  • Manufacturing in China: Tibet, Tienanem Square massacre, Uigurians, Hongkong to name a few of the problems I have with the Chinese government…

I can fully agreee with that, but whats the alternative? Not to use any electronics at all?

The volla phone is made (assembled) in germany.
It comes with Android without google or ubuntu touch.

Made with global (china) parts.
Its made in the Gigaset assembly line.
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It was stated somewhere in this discussion already, that assembling parts in Europe, which are manufatured in China is most probably worse than assembling the same parts there and shipping the whole thing. And it doesn’t make you independent of chinese products.

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If you are referring to my reply, then yes, environmentally it probably is. In other ways it is a good idea to do the assembly more locally:

  • Less capital leaving Europe, improving the longer-term power balance and overall wealth of the bloc. This gives the leverage that can be (but seldomly is) used to stand up to injustices like mentioned earlier,
  • More potential for supporting local jobs that add productivity, giving more individuals in Europe a chance to get out of unemployment (benefits) and making a living on their own with a productive job. At the cost of jobs and growth in Asia of course where ordinary people (especially in China) still are way worse off than we are here…

As with many things in life, it’s a trade-off…


No, I replied to angry_dodo

Just to add to this thread. I could not read it all as it is depressing beyond my desire to live, or should I say consume.

We like other ‘life’ forms survive by consumption. Ethics dictate what and whom we consume, it is not a moral issue.

Personally I avoid supporting China, I have solar panels made in India, Batteries made in Canada, Raspberry pi made in the UK, grow trees for fuel, crops for food etc. I feel better with my intentions. I will not change the course of animals nor do I want to, but I support those that take responsibility for as much of their consumption as they can. ~ hence I bought a Fairphone :slight_smile:

Be not confused with what is called ‘life’ and making it better, this is the killing game and each of us has a choice what to consume.

May each of us see our desires are unsustainable ~} if they need any sort of future, focusing on what I am is all I can do and it is great to know that I am not alone in this journey. Ethics may not make the world a better place but they sure do show up the errors of a consumption orientated thinking.

In that case you are right, the alternative is to not use electronics.


An alternative to what? China?
I use
solar panels for electricity, from India
wiring made in the UK
batteries from Canada
charge controllers from India
Led bulbs from Belgium
and computer from UK
Analog multi-meter from UK
Digital multi-meter from Taiwan

But no doubt most, if not all but, of the sourcing for base elements is not Fairtrade so it’s not China that’s the problem, they are just happy to be in the chain of capitalism, at last, to make a profit from the rich people who mainly care about saving money, not their soul, if the have developed a soul yet :slight_smile:

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It was in response to those posts:

So a comparable thing would be that you used a computer or device to make your post with no electronics and no chip, or materials for chips made in china.
So what parts are in your Computer, is the CPU made in the UK?
That was the criticism of my mentioning of a Phone assembled in Germany.

And while you can say “made in Taiwan is not made in China” the PRC sees that different :frowning:

In response to your @Wolf.K I agree there is little alternative or in his example none.

My post was in response to your general statement about electronics,

“In that case you are right, the alternative is to not use electronics.”

wherein I acknowledge that the basic elements are not Fairtraded ~ or even traceable from my point of view. :slight_smile:

“But no doubt most, if not all but, of the sourcing for base elements is not Fairtrade so it’s not China that’s the problem,”

As other Faiphone users I’m concerned about environmental issues, people’s polytical freedom, fair labour cost and so on.
That’s why I’m an happy Fairphone user.
But as most of you that participate to this topic I find difficult to buy electronic stuff because brands and manifacturers are not transparent in disclosing where products are manufactured and under what conditions.

For example now I need a pair of WIRELESS EAR BUDS or BONE CONDUCTION HEADPHONES but it seems quite impossible to find fair manifacturers.

Did someone investigate that market?

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