Paper, walls, iPads, lotions…even though China may be the world's manufacturing leader, Western manufacturers still dominate the production of the color white on objects through highly efficient titanium dioxide production. Thus far, China has not been able to perfect the process on their own, instead being forced to stick with a messier and inefficient plan of processing sulphate, which still results in a visibly inferior shade of white. As the world's main factory this must drive this Chinese industry nuts--or perhaps towards industrial espionage.
The Pangang Group, a Sichuan-based manufacturing firm, is believed to have stolen secret information from DuPont, at least enough in order to build a high tech factory. Overall, six individuals and five companies were charged in San Francisco last month in "a long-running effort to obtain US trade secrets for the benefit of companies controlled by the People's Republic of China (PRC)." The Chinese embassy in Washington has rejected these allegations.
This kind of espionage isn't new by any means, but the context of obtaining trade secrets now is perhaps the most high-stakes it has ever been, considering the advent of new technological products whetting the appetites of global consumers who recently find themselves with disposable income.
If China wants to remain the world's manufacturing hub, offering products in the "color" white--only in its purest, most Snow White hue--should be easy. Surely it will be only a matter of time before they conquer this shade, whether via their own research or through industrial spies in major US cities.