I think the biggest problem here is budget. I've had enough back and forths with JB about Chinese stuff, and honestly, there's never anything productive out of it. To me, $300 is not a lot of money. I drop $500 or $600 on guns (another hobby of mine) all the time, so in my head, if I have to buy a $300 winch every 4 or 5 years... it's not that big of a deal. The further logic is this... I can buy 4 of those cheapies over a period of 15-20yrs, and be exactly where I would be with an expensive winch off that bat, assuming that it wouldn't need to be rebuilt or grease packed during that time.
Where JB and I agree though, is Chinese winches really do suck at life. They are slow, loud,tolerances are a mile wide, quality and reliability are questionable at best, parts are stupid hard to find, and often when you call a tech support line, and select English (because you need to), you often get someone who can't speak English making the experience that much more frustrating. The shipping game is a circus, and then there's the whole supporting the Chinese economy mess. Whilst I have my own opinions on what ultimately drives an economy, the fact is this: You buy a product with US funds, that over a series of transactions, ends up in China.
Bottom line: You will get what you pay for. Going into the wild blue yonder with a Chinese made winch verses a domestically made winch, is sort of like being stranded in the wilderness with a Hi-Point verses a Glock... The Glock is a signifcant investment, but piece of mind in a life or death situation that it will fire in any condition you could be in, is totally worth the $400 price gap. Some people feel the same way about winches, especially if they go into some really remote areas. The piece of mind that the winch will pull no matter what, is totally worth the $500-$1000 price gap.
Just to be fair, I bought my first ever winch back in 2009. It's a HF 10,000. When I bought it, my budget was much lower than it is now, and it was a huge part of my purchase. It's never been covered, it's been submereged several times, covered in dirt, mud, snow, soap, you name it. It still works just fine though, which as it turns out, is pretty lucky considering my abuse. When it dies, I won't be replacing it with another cheap winch though, I'll be dumping some money into a much higher quality unit, mainly because to a Jeep enthusiast, it increases the resale value in the event I try to sell it.