'Made in China' fights for new brand image

China's richest man isn't worried about economic slowdown
China's richest man isn't worried about economic slowdown

Beijing is on a mission to make "made in China" awesome.

Chinese products have long been associated with their cheap prices and questionable quality. But China is keen to improve the image of its manufacturing -- think shiny drones and smartphones instead of plastic toys and counterfeit sports jackets.

"The world needed these kinds of cheap affordable products. We conquered the market and accumulated the capital...Now we have to innovate," Justin Lin, a professor at Peking University, said at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

He said China could follow the example of other countries in improving the reputation of its products.

"Japan in the '50s...they also had the impression of bad quality producers," Lin said.

China has invested heavily in its universities, trying to encourage its talent to stay home. And in many cases, Chinese companies are charging ahead.

"If you look at WeChat (a popular Chinese social networking app), it is far ahead of the U.S. I think Facebook is scrambling to catch up," said Amy Wilkinson, a lecturer at Stanford University.

Related: China hemorrhaged $676

Chinese manufacturing has long been plagued by concerns about counterfeit goods, and experts say that unless the government manages to take control of the issue, the image of "made in China" won't improve.

But it looks like a change might be coming from within China. "Chinese entrepreneurs are now complaining about this...They are saying other Chinese entrepreneurs are ripping off my idea, I need protection," Wilkinson said.

CNNMoney Sponsors