As an emerging power in transition from a resource-and-labor-intensive economy to a capital-and-technology-driven economy, China often exhibits a complicated image: the combination of a sparkling facade and a depressing reverse side.
The eight-episode documentary “The Pillars of a Great Power” showcases the great strides China has made in the equipment manufacturing industry. I was greatly impressed by the wide range of products reaching international standards in terms of design, production, and quality. I’m fully convinced that China can produce equipment and goods as good as those made by advanced nations.
On the other hand, what is exposed at the annual Chinese television program “3.15 Show” indicates that there is a long way for China to go before erasing its stigma as a producer of low-quality goods and even a counterfeiter.
During the numerous revelations at this year’s show, a tubing manufacturer was found to use reused material in production, a clear violation of the State code, posing potential threats to the safety of the concerned projects. Dozens of fake food producers were caught mass producing and selling counterfeit products to rural areas, making low-income and ill-informed rural consumers the biggest victim.
Good quality lies in the heart of millions of consumers, not in businesses’ ads or media’s puffery. During the late 1980s when Japanese brands dominated the Chinese appliance market, I bought some items of Japanese brands, including an air-conditioner, a microwave oven and a vacuum cleaner. The conditioner served me over 20 years without any trouble until I moved to a new home. The vacuum and microwave are still in use today, in good condition.
By contrast, two washing machines of well-known domestic brands keep acting up despite their rising fame and expanding market shares.
I’m often assailed by the question: What’s the root cause of the general low quality of Chinese products?
Two famous quotes come to my mind in search of the answer. One is Henry Ford’s: “Quality means doing it right when no one is looking,” and the other is Aristotle’s “Excellence is a habit.”
A quality-oriented ethos should be in the blood of goods producers.
Well, it may not be fair to say that China, as a nation, lacks a sense of good quality. In fact, in ancient times, Chinese products like silk and porcelain products were sought after around the world as high-quality merchandise.
Nor is it true that all foreign businesses are honest. Quite a few Japanese and German companies have been exposed for cheating in their production.
The fundamental cause of poor quality is a mixture of greed, loose supervision and corruption.
Greed is the root of all evil. Most defective and counterfeit products are churned out by mercenary profiteers. No mercy should be shown toward such criminals, who must be punished with legal action, not mere condemnation.
Actually, loose supervision and corruption are the twins of greed; they live off each other.
The encouraging news is that the Chinese leadership will attach such great importance to quality as to regard it as a revolution.
The 19th National Congress of CPC called for turning China into a powerful nation in terms of good quality and made it a national strategy to raise overall quality up to the international levels.
The following measures should be taken to substantially improve the quality of Chinese products. First, amend the existing Product Quality Law to impose more stringent punishments on violators. Second, train more qualified talents to maintain high levels of quality. Third, establish a mature quality standard system.
(The author is an English tutor and freelance writer.)