China has been dumping its multifarious manufactured goods, from the mundane to the complex items, all over the world that you would think there is nothing that the world’s industrial and economic giant cannot produce. Right?
Apparently, the world’s largest manufacturer of ballpoint pens never succeeded in producing its own ballpoint, a vital component in a pen, until now. And to think that China manufactures 80% of the world’s ballpoint pens!
So, where, then, was China’s ballpoint pen makers getting the delicate tips for the variety of pens it was making and exporting to the countries of the world?
Admittedly, the delicate balls used were imported from Switzerland.
But, not anymore according to state-owned steel firm Taiyuan Iron & Steel which has announced its Eureka moment!
So why did a country renowned for ingeniously replicating technology struggle to create an everyday item for so long?
According to the firm, it did not have machines with the precision needed to cut a tiny ball-bearing accurately.
Also, it explained that despite being the world’s largest steel producer, China was unable to produce the high quality steel to case the ink-dispensing ball, resulting in the steel being imported from Germany or Japan.
The problem of the imperfect balls was brought to fore when Chinese Premier Li Keqiang complained on national TV that the country’s pens were “rough” in comparison with their Japanese, German and Swiss counterparts.
His comments led the Hong Kong Economic Journal to declare: “The day China can produce a 100% homemade ball pen will be the day it truly qualifies as a first-class industrial power.”
Well, it sure has been, but more so now and China is hoping to phase out pen tip imports completely within the next two years.