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Quality Improvement Takes Precedence
The CPC Central Committee and the State Council on September 12 issued guidelines for implementing a quality improvement campaign.
 NO. 39 SEPTEMBER 28, 2017

Visitors take a look at juice extractors at Appliance and Electronics World Expo 2017 held in Shanghai on March 9 (XINHUA)

Zhi Shuping, Minister of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of China (AQSIQ) elaborated at a press conference in Beijing on September 13 on a newly issued policy that aims at improving the quality of homegrown products and services and advancing the upgrading of China's manufacturing industry. Edited excerpts of his speech are as follow:

The CPC Central Committee and the State Council on September 12 issued guidelines for implementing a quality improvement campaign. It is the first time the Central Government has drawn up such a product quality action plan, which will have far-reaching influence on the development and upgrading of China's industries and economy in the future.

A significant action plan

In 2016, the Chinese leadership at the annual Central Economic Work Conference emphasized supply-side structural reform focusing on improving the quality of products and services and cutting overcapacity. In the 2017 Government Work Report, released this March, Premier Li Keqiang set out arrangements regarding this issue.

Recently, in a congratulatory letter to the second China Quality Conference, held in Shanghai on September 15, President Xi Jinping pointed out the importance of quality management and his expectation that attendees from various countries could share their insights and engage in international cooperation on the matter.

Based on comprehensive deliberation and an enormous amount of research and investigation, the Central Government has turned the idea into action, launching the campaign to enhance quality management in all industries.

The guidelines are of great significance to ensure the success of the campaign. First, they offer an approach to make the nation strong and realize the Chinese dream. China is pursuing the goals of building socialism with Chinese characteristics and realizing national rejuvenation. The Chinese people are making efforts to realize the two centenary goals, namely, to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way by the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC in 2021, and to build China into a modern socialist nation that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious by the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China in 2049.

Bearing the goals in mind, China has adopted a number of policies and achieved remarkable progress in many fields such as manufacturing, science, technology and economy. To achieve all these goals, the most immediate and important factor is the need to improve quality of the manufacturing and service industries. In a sense, a fundamental distinction between a large nation and a strong one lies in quality. Therefore, the Central Government has clearly underlined to pursue "development based on improved quality and performance" and called on everyone to "focus efforts on improving the quality and efficiency of development."

The guidelines offer strategic measures to accelerate industrial upgrading and promote the nation's development toward the medium-high end of the spectrum. With the efforts of generations of Chinese over the past several decades, China ranks first in the world in terms of production capacity of over 220 types of industrial products, and products made in China have been sold to markets around the world. However, it should be noted that many industries in China, though with a large output and rapid production, are still at the middle or low end of global value chains. China has been making efforts to advance its industrial upgrading and improve technology in manufacturing high quality products with high efficiency. Practice proves that economic transformation must start with improving quality standards overall. To eliminate low-end production, China must lift the threshold of quality standards and close down outdated production facilities as well as promote hi-tech and technological innovations.

The guidelines also point out the way to improve supply structure and meet consumers' expectations. Stronger demand now exists for high quality food, clothing, housing and transportation, as do stricter requirements for product quality. It has become increasingly obvious that supply of quality products always falls short of demand. As President Xi indicated, such a problem in the economy is not simply due to imbalance of supply and demand; people's demands have changed a lot, while supply has not adjusted to the new situation. Moreover, the quality of products and services offered cannot satisfy consumers' requirements. This has caused a "spillover of demand," with rapid growth of Chinese consumption abroad. The guidelines therefore state that improving the quality of products and services is a major step in implementing the supply-side structural reform and the major task for improving the whole supply system. Thus, we should not only meet domestic demand, but also try to gain recognition from foreign consumers and global markets.

How to implement the plan?

The guidelines, consisting of 30 articles in six parts, present detailed and systematic methods for the campaign. The guidelines cover four major aspects; targets and requirements, directions, measures, and guarantee measures.

The guidelines make clear the purpose of the campaign from the very beginning, declaring that quality comes first. The fundamental goal is to meet people's increasing demands and enhance the comprehensive national strength. Enterprises are regarded as major players in the campaign. Reform and innovation are the fundamental way to improve quality of products and services.

The general objective is that by 2020, the quality of supplies shall be significantly improved; the supply system shall become more effective; and remarkable progress shall be achieved in improving the industrial structure and boosting economic transformation. The nation shall realize comprehensive upgrading in quality of products, construction, industrial development, regional development and national economy.

The guidelines underline that the work should be carried out in eight fields—farm produce, food and drugs, consumer goods, equipment manufacturing, raw materials, construction projects, services, and social governance and public services—as well as foreign trade. All of these are hotspot areas that the public are concerned about and that are crucial for economic and social development.

The guidelines put forward seven major measures to improve quality; tasks, standards, innovation, management, supervision, brand building, and joint governance of government and society. Many of them are new measures. The guidelines also urge the establishment and improvement of laws and regulations on quality standards systems, enabling the nation to follow a healthy path of industrial and economic development.

The guidelines outline supporting measures for the campaign in five aspects; rules and laws, financial and tax policies, education, incentive measures, and organization and administration. All of these measures are specifically detailed for implementation. Especially, the government should strengthen administration and supervision during the campaign. The public is also encouraged to participate in supervision of the campaign's implementation.

Under the leadership of the Central Government, government departments at all levels should work together with the business community as well as the public to promote quality products and services and say no to forged and fake commodities. The nation will build unified and strict work mechanisms in this regard. Local governments, in particular the governments of municipalities and counties, should fulfill their duty in implementing policies.

China's determination

The guidelines fully demonstrate the Central Government's determination to improve quality in an all-round way. The CPC Central Committee and the State Council attach great importance to the campaign. President Xi has repeatedly stressed the importance of improvement of quality. At the Central Economic Work Conference last year, Xi emphasized raising awareness of putting quality first and making great efforts to improve quality in an all-round way. The guidelines mark the beginning of the action to address quality problems in economic development.

Furthermore, the guidelines fully reflect the central leadership's pragmatic work style. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the CPC Central Committee has been working on strengthening Party discipline, deepening reform comprehensively, reducing poverty, combating environmental pollution and promoting the Belt and Road Initiative. China has achieved certain progress in these matters. With the guidelines on quality improvement, China's strong determination to build up its industrial power and meet the growing demands of its people for a better life is plain to see.

Copyedited by Bryan Michael Galvan

Comments to baishi@bjreview.com

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