China needs to enforce consumer protection laws to raise global views of domestic goods

By Xiao Xin Source:Global Times Published: 2017/3/16 22:48:39

While galas are generally supposed to bring happiness to people, CCTV's annual consumer rights day TV show that aired Wednesday only offered the audience a heads up that there's still a long way to go for China to stay abreast with countries like Germany where homegrown products and services are globally renowned for their quality and reliability.

The program argued that China should make addressing problems of quality a top priority to shake the embarrassing impression that the world's second-largest economy is just a boisterous market. Only in this way can the country eventually become a global leader in goods and trade.

During this year's program, CCTV updated its kaleidoscope of flaws and frauds in varied products and services in the Chinese market with discoveries that ranged from the abusive use of antibiotics in food animals to cross-border e-commerce sale of banned food from nuclear-contaminated areas in Japan to health product marketing scams that targeted older people.

Worth noting is that, along with the country's Internet boom, online services have become an area of unscrupulous dishonesty. In a striking sign, has descended from being lauded as the world's largest Chinese encyclopedia site to what the State broadcaster concluded was the biggest "junkyard" filled with various fake advertisements.

Of course, it is not only China's homegrown manufacturers and service providers that have been profiled for unscrupulous or fraudulent business practices. Famous foreign brand names including Hewlett-Packard, Apple and Nike have been exposed on the program for providing Chinese customers with faulty products or services. But this gives no excuse for domestic manufacturers to trick consumers, which is detrimental to the image of "Made in China." Also, the varied problematic products and services that are laid bare by the program are decidedly a wake-up call for tougher and more effective action from the government to fix flaws in the country's regulatory framework to ensure quality products and services. 

In fairness, the Chinese government has ramped up efforts in fighting against counterfeit products and dishonest business behavior, but efforts are still required to put into place a well-functioning mechanism that is capable of troubleshooting quality concerns. It's often the case in China that consumers are disappointed and exhausted by the complex and lengthy complaint procedures and eventual solutions. Further, many of the quality issues revealed by CCTV should not even have been a problem had government rules and regulations been more forcefully implemented.

With the country looking to move beyond the label of the world's factory and taking a proactive role in reshaping the global trade landscape - in its latest effort, China is joining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership for regional trade talks - it is of pivotal importance for the country to restore domestic consumer confidence before convincing the entire world of its quality upgrade.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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