On April 6, Premier Li stressed at a State Council executive meeting that advanced standards should be adopted to upgrade China’s manufacturing industries.
According to the Premier, forging advanced manufacturing industries with high standards is an important part of structural reforms, especially supply-side reform, which helps improve supply, expand demand, and promote medium-to-high end manufacturing industry.
“Efforts should be made to boost consumers’ confidence in ‘Made-in-China’ products and promote international competitiveness of manufacturing industries by improving their quality and efficiency,” he said.
Manufacturing standards and quality
The focus of the executive meeting on April 6 was on “improving manufacturing industry standards”. But Premier Li also stressed “quality”.
“Standards and product quality are closely connected. We must have advanced standards as backup to manufacture high-quality products. On the other hand, the purpose of promoting equipment manufacturing standards is to improve the quality of consumer goods and expand domestic and international markets,” he said.
He noted that backward standards and medium-to-low end product quality is a major reason that China is now only a manufacturing country and not an advanced manufacturer.
He asked related departments to further improve industry standards and speed up standard upgrades to promote technology and product innovation.
We need to keep opening up and offering consumers more choices, urging upgrades of “Made-in-China”. The final goal is to stimulate the domestic manufacturing industry, create more jobs for sustained development with standards that are more compatible with market demands.
Government administration keeps up with people’s demands
Premier Li specifically said at the meeting that to improve standards and quality of manufacturing industries, the first thing to do is improve government administration with new methods so that consumers will have more choices.
“Stop the practice of listing a so-called industrial consumer goods catalogue, which only raises the threshold for innovation products to enter market,” he said.
“We should adopt the mechanism of negative list as the new administrative method. Except for compulsory standards regarding individual safety, national security, and life and health that require strict adherence and supervision, the market should play a bigger role in developing other standards.”
Government needs administrative innovation to promote manufacturing industry upgrades, transferring its emphasis from “setting threshold” to “offering services” and guiding more enterprises to adopt advanced standards, he stressed.
“Government administration should keep up with people’s diversifying and higher-level demand.”
Foster ‘spirit of craftsmanship’
The Premier recalled his visit to a European enterprise 20 years ago, where he saw a skilled worker make a seamless magnesium rod.
“The worker was doing better than a machine. The more important thing is that the manager of the enterprise told me that the worker earned the same as him. This is the biggest encouragement to ‘a spirit of craftsmanship!’ ”
He emphasized that in addition to improving manufacturing industry standards and quality, more efforts should be made to encourage innovation and foster “a spirit of craftsmanship”.
“Government should be clear about its duty: On the one hand, it should strictly crack down on counterfeit and poor-quality products and fraud to create a fair market environment; on the other hand, the spirit of craftsmanship should be advocated to manufacture more innovative, popular and high-quality products.”
Consumers’ choice to urge ‘Made-in-China’ upgrade
During the discussion on equipment manufacturing standards improvement, Premier Li also asked related departments to make plans regarding the improvement of popular consumer goods standards.
“In the past, the logic of the industrial system was that ‘you can only buy whatever we made’. But now people’s consumption demands are more diversified as they expect products with higher quality and standards. The manufacturing industry is now in a transition toward customization and individualization.”
During the time of a planned economy, China and other countries experienced a shortage in light industry goods despite prosperity in heavy industry. In the era of the Internet, this “old track” should be avoided.
“Made in China 2025 not only refers to the equipment manufacturing industry. Consumers’ choices should be used to urge quality improvement of industrial consumer goods and upgrade of Made-in-China products,” the Premier said.