Why It Is Important That China Has Perfected The Ball Point Pen

Not your low-cost ten-a-pen pen, but the more high-end pens with well fitting barrels and balls for smoother writing experiences.

Ballpoint pens aren’t actually new to China. Its 3,000 pen manufacturers make around 40 billion of them a year and fulfill 80 percent of the world’s demand. There’s just one problem: China doesn’t possess the advanced alloys and machines necessary to make a high-quality pen ball and socket. As a result, 90 percent of China’s pen tips are imported. Pens made from Chinese components are widely acknowledged to be inferior — a point made by Premier Li Keqiang in a 2015 television appearance. “That’s the real situation facing us,” he said. “We cannot make ballpoint pens with a smooth writing function.”

And while it’s a curious story, Tim Worstall spins it out to illustrate a point about national wages and productivity in China compared to the west.

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