In the world of manufacturing and quality control in China, when we refer to “Suppliers” we are generally referring to Chinese suppliers of product to western countries. The term “suppliers” can mean a few different things.
One, is an actual factory. Many factories in China are large and sophisticated enough to supply directly to clients overseas.
Another, is a trading company. Trading companies are companies that generally have relationships with many factories, buy products from those factories, and in turn sell those products to buyers overseas.
A third type of entity that might be referred to as a supplier is a buying agent. Buying agents often are not associated with a particular company, buy may be someone who represents the interests of buyers in transactions with Chinese factories.