When Arren Ng moved into his three-bedroom flat in Singapore last November, he bought a robot vacuum cleaner, home security camera, and weighing scale from Chinese tech giant Xiaomi . He had considered alternatives from other international brands such as Dyson , Philips and Panasonic, but their high prices were a deal-breaker for him. “The other brands were roughly three times more expensive. Xiaomi is cheap and reliable,” said Ng, 30, a customer service officer. Like Ng, a growing number of Singaporeans are opting to buy tech products from Chinese companies. Singapore orders Facebook to comply with fake news law In a recent survey by independent pollster Blackbox – which asked 1,000 people to rate products from certain countries as superior, average or inferior – 34 per cent of respondents felt Chinese tech brands fell into the first category, up from 23 per cent in 2018. Even though this still places Chinese products below those from Japan, the United States and South Korea, the regard for goods from China grew fastest among the four nations. On the contrary, respondents who felt South Korean products were superior fell from 51 to 50 per cent, while those who thought the same for American ones maintained at 50 per cent. Japanese brands led the pack, inching up to 64 per cent from 63 per cent last year. “At this rate of improvement, Chinese tech brands will be viewed as superior by Singapore consumers to Japanese, Korean, and US tech brands in three to four years,” said David Black, the owner and managing director of the Singapore-based polling company. “The fact that Chinese brands are starting to get real traction and are increasingly perceived as being of superior quality with Singapore consumers, who are notoriously picky, demonstrates their aggressive business trajectory.” The survey also found that Chinese tech giants – including Alibaba, Huawei and Xiaomi – also saw greater consumer interest, especially among Singaporeans between the ages of 15 and 24. They have also sought to increase their visibility by expanding their physical presence in the city state, where Huawei has “close to 20 concept stores” and two customer service centres, according to a company spokesperson, while Xiaomi has 11 bricks-and-mortar shops. Singapore and China eye deeper ties in Greater Bay Area project “The popular demand of [Huawei] products in Singapore underlines the brand’s growing appeal in the market,” said the spokesperson, adding that the company had recorded “strong” growth in the Lion City over the past five years and its smartphone launches in recent months saw “hundreds of people lining up”. Ng, who intends to buy a Xiaomi air purifier next, said besides competitive prices, Chinese companies also offered innovative products. He also said he was “not at all concerned” about potential security risks or data breaches by the Chinese brand. “On the other hand, I am more worried about having two Google Homes in my apartment. They are listening to whatever I am talking about,” he said, adding that the amount of data collected is “unimaginably huge”, regardless of whether someone uses Western or Chinese products. Singapore’s latest billionaire made his fortune in mobile games Gerald Yeo, a 49-year-old dentist who also owns a Xiaomi vacuum cleaner, said he opted for the brand because it came highly recommended by his friends, describing the gadget as “reliable and relevant”. The rising popularity of Chinese products in Singapore can be attributed to an underlying shift in perception towards made-in-China goods, said Ang Swee Hoon, an associate professor at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School. “Previously, when people say things are made in China, the idea of cheap, poor quality, and mass production comes to mind,” she said. “In recent years, especially for tech products, China-made ones have made very big strides. People are impressed by them.” Ang said social media had shown consumers living outside China how much progress brands from the country had made, while rising companies such as Alibaba, JD.com, and Didi Chuxing were “beating the pants off American brands who have always been the front runners” of the tech game and had made people “take a second look” at China as a whole. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post . Kapil Tuli, a marketing professor at Singapore Management University, described the trend of Chinese products gaining more traction as the “branding story of this decade”. “Chinese firms have invested significant amounts in not only upgrading the quality of their products and services, but also the quality of their communication efforts,” he said. If Singapore is so wealthy, why do its citizens feel stuck? Kapil added that smartphones made by Chinese conglomerates also represented value for money. “[While] some of them might not be on par with say an Apple iPhone in terms of features, the comparatively lower price makes them a very compelling offer for consumers. If I can get 70 per cent of product benefits for 50 per cent of the price, then it is great value for me,” he explained. Ang from the NUS said she “would not be surprised” if Chinese tech brands overtook those from Japan, Korea and the US in the near future, citing how China has leapfrogged many nations when it comes to technological advancements. Regardless of who is ahead, Kapil said consumers will benefit from the stiff competition. “Rest assured, consumers in Singapore and beyond will benefit as there will be more intense competition,” he said.