Most consumer protection laws require the seller, not the manufacturer, to be responsible for warranty. The presumption is that when the goods are sold, they are to be fit for a particular purpose. That being said, manufacturers offer warranties to support the seller.
I'd start with your local consumer protection office. I don't think the problem here is with the manufacturer. It's not unreasonable for them to require you to pay shipping to and from their facility, however 98% of businesses would take care of that for you for a new item. That being said, he bought a Norinco. You get what you pay for. You can't expect the same reliability from a cheap Chinese imitation than from a much more expensive authentic american product.