System under discussion would punish low-grade manufacturers
China will improve legislation to promote product quality and establish a system that subjects producers and sellers of substandard goods to punitive compensation measures.
Guidance released on Tuesday by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council, China's Cabinet, urged governments at all levels to make "uttermost efforts" to improve the quality of all products made in China to address supply shortages of midrange and high-end goods and services.
The outline also set targets for the quality of smart and user-friendly products and a leap ahead in the international competitiveness of Chinese brands by 2020.
Measures such as improving legislation and supervision, financial supports and talent cultivation will be undertaken in the next few years to that end, the guidance said.
"The outline is the first of its kind on quality in China, and it's of milestone significance," Zhi Shuping, minister of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, China's top quality watchdog, said at a news conference on Wednesday.
"It is strategically important to promote China's industrial transformation and upgrade supplies to meet the demand of the Chinese people," Zhi said.
Huang Guoliang, director of the administration's quality supervision department, said research and discussion are under way on revisions to China's Product Quality Law, which includes establishing a system to punish those who make and sell substandard goods.
"Current law generally imposes administrative penalties on violators of product quality law, which are too lenient," Huang said. "A system under which violators of the law would suffer devastating consequences would act as a deterrent."
He said revision of the Product Quality Law will need the approval of the National People's Congress, the top legislature, but there is not yet a clear timetable.
Li Jun, director of the Product Quality and Safety Legal Research Center at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, said such a system has been established in some developed countries, including the United States, which imposes heavy fines for poor product quality that harms consumers.
"Such a measure can propel business owners to assign great importance to quality and safety," he said. "The new outline demonstrates the central government's determination to improve product quality."
Although China is the top producer of more than 220 industrial products, many of them are at the lower end of the value chain, Zhi said.
This has caused problems such as oversupply of some products, while at the same time Chinese consumers must look overseas for high quality products and services, he said.