China is to improve the quality of its manufactured goods by advancing a more inclusive certification and accreditation system, especially in civil aviation, rail, automobiles and information technologies.
The move, regarded as a vital step to promote the strategy of “Made in China 2025”, was approved at a State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Sept 6.
By the end of 2018, the country’s quality certification system will be updated in informationized and smart ways to cover different enterprises, in particular service-oriented as well as small and medium-sized ones, according to a statement released after the meeting.
Compulsory quality certifications will be conducted for products involving safety, health and environmental protection, while incentives are provided to encourage companies to voluntarily apply for certifications.
Authorities will explore new methods for quality standard management and exercise prudent supervision over new technologies, products and business models.
Meanwhile, quality certification supervision will be strengthened with strict standards as the nation encourages the development of quality certification institutions.
In addition, the campaign also targets increasing international competitiveness for Chinese-made products. The government will facilitate international cooperation for mutual recognition of quality certification, which is expected to help Chinese brands become recognized around the globe.
The Premier reiterated the importance of improving the quality of products and strengthening standardization, which in return will help achieve a medium and high-end economy.
At the meeting, Premier Li recalled his visit to a foreign pottery factory about 20 years ago. “Some produce looked good on the production line but had flaws on the surface. Quality inspectors simply crushed these products in front of workers because they said no flawed ones were tolerable,” he said.
“Today we have to build such consciousness of quality for those products made in China.”
Premier Li also said he once met a manufacturer that couldn’t sell a new electric vehicle in the domestic market because there was no such thing as a quality standard. By contrast, the company had received a large number of orders from overseas.
“All related departments should work together and raise the competitiveness in quality in addition to price advantages for goods made in China,” he said.
As of September, 1.76 million effective certificates had been issued nationwide, ranking first globally, said Tian Shihong, director of the Standardization Administration of China.
However, he also said these certificates are not well-recognized overseas yet.
Tian said more than 450,000 enterprises are encompassed into the international standard organization rules, while the country has more than 20 million manufacturing companies.
The quality of goods and services is closely related to consumer rights and safety, sustainable development of the manufacturing sector and China’s economic restructuring, said Liu Junhai, a professor of business laws at the Renmin University of China.
It also concerns whether the supply-side structural reform can succeed in improving manufactured products, he said.
“Without a sound quality certification system, the manufacturers who produce high-quality products cannot stand out. Instead, others can muddle through with inferior goods. This is against the market, being an obstacle to the supply-side reform. So the key lies in improving the system and tackling the institutional shortcoming,” Liu added.
The professor was echoed by Zhao Jianbo, a deputy researcher at the Industrial Economics Institute at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Zhao said the urgent task is to promote quality branding.
As a new round of industrial revolution proceeds, it demands new technical methods to improve quality management as traditional industries are being changed to smart ones with new industries and business models emerging, Zhao said.
Liu Weijun, deputy director of the Certification and Accreditation Administration of China, said new technologies such as big data will be introduced to evaluate the quality of goods and also provide suggestions for them to improve quality.
The method has been piloted in aviation, railways and automobiles, he said.
Liu Weijun said the certification will focus on “Made in China 2025”, especially in areas such as robotics, the internet of things, education, the financial sector and healthcare.