A tumult has arisen overseas in the past few months to denounce or censure the quality of Chinese products, from auto tyres to toys and even to foodstuff, as if everything 'made in China" would have problems. And mainstream media in the West have also pitched in to make a big noise. Then, how to view this tumult is an issue that deserves our serious and careful consideration.
This tumult should be probjected into a big backdrop of China versus the entire world to mull over. First of all, the emergence of this tumult is ascribed to the great expansion of its relations with the rest of the world. China's total export value will possibly exceed the 1,000 billion US dollar mark this year and the country will hopefully replace Germany to be the second trade power at the year-end. Such a tumult could not occur three decades ago, as China's export value only amounted to 20.6 billion dollars in 1978, making up merely 0.78 percent of the total international trade value in the year. Even five years ago, such a tumult was also unlikely to happen.
Second, China has been rising rapidly, and this is something people the world over have not expected. Its GDP per capita was 1,000 dollars in 2003 and, in 2006, outstripped 2,000 dollars. So GDP had been doubled in three years in such a big nation with a population of 1.3 billion, unprecedented in the human history of economic development. Such an economic scale to take shape at such a fast pace would of course provoke uneasiness among some people.
With such a background, some Western media very much like to smear at or make a fuss of the "quality of China-made products".
Facing such circumstances, what should people do? People in China should have a "usual mindset" or a general state of mood. Having the global trade in view, they would acknowledge disputes over product quality as not rare. China has been rising so rapidly with its status in international trade. This has been the focus of attention worldwide, and, as a matter of course, demands on the quality of its products has turned more tough or rigid. Hence, greater importance should be attached to the quality of products, and the "quality is life blood," as a Chinese metaphor says. And the measures the Chinese side has so far taken are appropriate and also very timely.
Long before the emergence of this tumult, Hu Jintao, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, especially underscored the importance of food security on April 23 at the 41th collective study session or meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee. This issue, he noted, represents a major task concerning the personal interests of the people and the overall situation of the modernization program.
Premier Wen Jiabao on July 26 signed the 503rd decree of the State Council, or the central government, and promulgated the "special regulations that demand strengthened security supervision and control concerning food and other products, which became valid upon the date of promulgation. Moreover, on August 23, Vice Premier Wu Yi called a nationwide televised working conference on straightening out special spheres of product security and food safety, and she set forth four-month-long intensified efforts to be made especially in this regard.
"Food is the first necessity of man," as a Chinese proverb goes. The above measures taken by Chinese central authority enjoy public endorsement and support, because any problem with food security will, first of all, victimize people in China, whereas doing a good job with food safety precisely embodies the concept of "taking the people first."
Chinese products with quality problems constitute only a tiny part of Chinese exports and, what is more, most of the Chinese export products have originated from transnational firms in China. With its enhanced efforts to supervise and control product quality, I am convinced that the tumult centering on the quality of China-made products and food security will calm down and subside. This issue also implies from a side aspect that the course of China's emergence, though not a plain and smooth sailing, is irresistible after all, since difficulties, challenges, and even obstructions and censures of every description will only prompt the people of China to do their work better still in all fields.
By Wu Jianmin, president of China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing, and translated by People's Daily Online