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About The Asian reporter. (Portland, Or.) 1991-current | View Entire Issue (July 4, 2016)
Page 16 n THE ASIAN REPORTER
ASIA / PACIFIC
July 4, 2016
Alco Electronics’ David Leung
on making gadgets in China
By Anne D’Innocenzio
AP Retail Writer
ONGGUAN CITY, China — A
look inside Alco Electronics Ltd.’s
factory in China shows what it
takes to succeed as a maker of gadgets for
the rest of the world — human precision in
tiny tasks and increasingly automated
manufacturing, but also flexible thinking
and perks to keep the best employees.
Chinese workers in blue coats and caps
worked on a production line making
tablets during a recent visit by The
Associated Press to the 2.5-million-
square-foot plant. Their tasks can be
tedious, such as soldering a connecter onto
a circuit board. Machines do things like
inspect incoming circuit boards and
tighten screws on tablets — automation
that lowers costs and improves quality. A
droning noise signals where tablets are
undergoing testing for all functions for
eight hours before they’re packaged.
That’s critical to help reduce returns.
Sunroofs keep the production floor lit
and reduce energy use.
The company, which counts Wal-Mart
Stores Inc. as one of its top five retail
customers, gets about 60 percent of its
sales from tablets and other computer
products. Nearly 70 percent of its annual
sales of about $330 million came from
North America. It ships its products under
the RCA and Venturer brands.
Alco, founded in 1968 to make AM/FM
radios to export primarily to North
America, has shifted with market
demands. In 1980, it moved production
from Hong Kong to China in search of
cheaper labor. Due in part to automation
and the changing labor market, it has
about one-tenth of the employees it had at
its peak of nearly 20,000 workers.
The company is now juggling customer
demand for affordable but high-quality
electronics as it wrestles with escalating
labor pressures and other costs in China.
David Leung, head of sales for North
America, recently spoke with The AP
about what’s selling, the differences in the
Chinese and U.S. markets, and what Alco
needs to do to attract workers.
Q. So the tablet is hot.
A. In the U.S., Wi-Fi is everywhere. So
any device with the Wi-Fi capability is
very popular. Content owners are putting
the apps onto the tablet so they can sell
directly to the consumer. We work directly
with Wal-Mart on Vudu (which distributes
movies over the internet to TVs.) The
tablet is like a vending machine for your
home. In peak times, we can do 40,000
(tablets) a day ... that is if all 200
components arrive on the same day.
Q. What kind of worker are you hiring?
A. It is not a shoe factory or a garment
factory. In general, we don’t need a skilled
worker. We need a disciplined worker, a
worker willing to learn.
Q. How are you trying to attract workers
given the labor shortage?
MARKING A MILESTONE. Workers retrieve a reentry module that was aboard the carrier rocket Long
March 7 after it touched down successfully in Badain Jaran Desert in northern China’s Inner Mongolia Autono-
mous Region. China has recovered an experimental probe launched aboard a new generation rocket, marking
another milestone in its increasingly ambitious space program that envisions a mission to Mars by the end of
the decade. (Ju Zhenhua/Xinhua via AP)
China on schedule for launch
this year of second space station
BEIJING (AP) — China has recovered
an experimental probe launched aboard a
new generation rocket, marking another
milestone in its increasingly ambitious
space program that envisions a mission to
Mars by the end of the decade.
Space program authorities said the
spaceship’s landing on the vast Inner Mon-
golian steppe keeps China on schedule to
place its second space station into orbit
later this year.
The launch of the spaceship aboard the
newly developed Long March 7 rocket was
hailed as a breakthrough in the use of
safer, more environmentally friendly
fuels. The launch also marked the first use
of the massive new Wenchang Satellite
Launch Center on the southern island
province of Hainan.
Since launching its first manned mis-
sion in 2003, China has sent up an experi-
mental space station, the Tiangong 1,
staged a spacewalk, and landed its Yutu
rover on the moon.
Its second space station, the Tiangong 2,
is due to be slung into space in September.
Following that, the Shenzhou 11
spaceship with two astronauts on board is
scheduled to dock with the station and
remain for several days. Administrators
suggest a manned landing on the moon
may also be in the program’s future.
A source of enormous national pride,
China’s military-backed space program
plans a total of 20 space missions this year
at a time when the U.S. and other
countries’ programs are seeking new roles.
China is also developing the Long
March 5 heavier-lift rocket needed to
launch the Tiangong 2 and other massive
China plans to launch a mission to land
a rover on Mars by 2020, attempting to
re-create the success of the U.S. Viking 1
mission that landed a rover on the planet
four decades ago.
Cambodian leader fined for not wearing motorcycle helmet
By Sopheng Cheang
The Associated Press
HNOM PENH, Cambodia —
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun
Sen, known as a tough and canny
politician during his more than three
decades in power, is pitching himself as a
repentant driving scofflaw.
He turned up at a police station in
Phnom Penh recently to pay a 15,000 riel
($3.75) fine for driving a motorcycle
without a helmet and license plate during
a recent visit to the southern province of
Koh Kong. He arrived on another
motorcycle, accompanied by a phalanx of
bodyguards on their own motorbikes.
On his Facebook page he apologized
after photos and videos of his ride drew
He told reporters that even as prime
minister he could not cite parliamentary
immunity to avoid punishment, a dig at
lawmakers from the opposition Cambodia
National Rescue Party who complain of
being stripped of their immunity after
being targeted in the courts by Hun Sen.
“I hope that all people in Cambodia,
regardless of whether poor, rich, or
powerful, whenever they committed
wrongdoing against the law, they will face
equal punishment before the law,” he said.
He also praised the country’s traffic
policemen for their dedication, not
addressing the likelihood that they would
not issue a citation to the country’s leader
on their own initiative.
He criticized unnamed politicians whom
he accused of not respecting the law and
then appealing to foreign countries to help
them. Human-rights groups and western
governments have criticized Hun Sen’s
government for its repression of its
opponents, particularly through the
courts, which are widely seen as politically
Cambodia traditionally has been lax in
enforcing traffic laws, but an upsurge in
new drivers and roads has led to more
accidents and consequently a crackdown
in recent months.
It is not the first time Hun Sen has
promoted civic virtue, though he is better
known as a master of political intrigue and
strongman tactics. In recent years he has
promoting the cause with the zeal of the
former chain smoker he is.
TEDIOUS TINY TASKS. A worker assembles
electronic devices at an Alco Electronics factory in
Houjie Town, Dongguan City, in the Guangdong prov-
ince of China, in this November 10, 2015 file photo.
A look inside the factory shows what it takes to suc-
ceed as a maker of gadgets for the rest of the world
— human precision in tiny tasks and increasingly au-
tomated manufacturing, but also flexible thinking and
perks to keep the best employees. (AP Photo/Ng Han
A. Wages alone are not the biggest
incentive. It’s wages plus perks. We
provide classes for them to learn in their
free time. Many workers like to learn
Cantonese and English as well. We also
have karate classes, cooking classes. We
have hired table tennis, basketball, and
yoga teachers to better their skills. We also
host tournaments for volleyball, basket-
ball, table tennis, and badminton in our
Sport Centre. Since we are now making
electric bicycles for Europe, we also have a
Whatever the worker likes to do, we will
try to find a teacher.
Q. Where do you sell your products other
than the U.S. market?
A. Canada, Mexico. We ship to South
America, Central America. And lately
we’re making shipments to India.
Q. What about China?
A. At the moment, we do not do a lot of
business in China. Our product is more
geared for the overseas market. We are
starting to do some China business. We
(started) selling Window tablets in the
China market using portals like JD.com.
In China, the physical store is not a big
thing. They all rely on the internet. So we
need to do our product with different
packaging that is more suitable for the
internet. Many of the streaming portals
are not available in China. Even YouTube
is not available. Also, Google is not availa-
ble in China so we have to redo all our
China is a very big country. We need to
learn about the distribution channel in
China. We’ve been doing export market
selling to the United States for the past 30
years. So although our factory is in China,
selling in China is a brand-new market for
Continued on page 15
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