Personally, I've never used anything other than a lincoln (tig), miller (mig and tig) and and old century buzz box. I have fairly limited overall welding skills, I mostly just weld automotive sheetmetal, so I'm not taxing anything like some of you guys welding single pass 3/8" plate, ect.
but, I just wanted to point out something that often gets overlooked in the discussion about china and the US. the Chinese don't respect us as a culture. at all. in any way. the Chinese aren't stupid people, they're capable of making as good a product as any American company, and they DO. they just won't sell it to us. I've heard stories from importers who really are trying to get the best products out of china that eventually end up buying products that aren't for export and converting them for the US market because they're so much higher in quality.
think about it this way, if you were making a widget for hitler's germany (perhaps a little stronger than the way china feels about our culture, but not much), would you make them the best you possibly could? probably not.
so, my take on it is this: I wouldn't and don't buy Chinese goods on the whole unless I can talk to the importer about the relationship he has with his suppliers. perhaps its a moot point, but I don't like the idea of the guy who's making a tool I rely on hating my guts.
I know, I know, everyone ends up buying stuff occasionally from horrible fright, and I'm no different, but I try to buy non-Chinese as much as possible.
and while I'm getting into trouble... this is my take on several asian nation's stereotypes (from personal and non personal experience)
koreans - love video games and porn. capable of working, when you can motivate them to do something other than play video games and watch porn. they make nice guitars for the major guitar makers el cheapo lines, I have no machine experience with korean goods.
chinese - the men are generally not very pleasant. I've only know a few personally, but it definitely felt like they didn't even give me a chance to get to know them before they wrote me off as a stupid american. the chinese women/girls I've know have all been nice. go figure.
phillipinos - very, very capable people, but with an ego to match. very personable, though, if you don't mind them carrying around their dick in a wheelbarrow.
japanese - again, very very capable people. on par with US manufacturing, albeit mostly copying from US designs. easy to work (on an import/export scale) with because they love and embrace western culture.
most of my experience with these cultures was while I was at michigan tech. lots of grad students fresh off the boat. all engineers, though.
hope I didn't offend anyone, but that's my lens. by no means do I not give someone a chance because of it, but I've found it to be accurate most of the time.