Improving manufacturing levels and encouraging products to develop toward the medium- and high-end are key moves for consolidating the foundation for boosting China’s strength in manufacturing. Recently, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and other four authorities have jointly issued the Implementation Opinions on Improving Manufacturing Reliability (hereinafter referred to as the Opinions), which proposes to improve weak links in the reliability of basic products in key industries such as machinery, electronics and automobiles, in order to meet the strategic goals for boosting China’s strength in manufacturing and product quality and reach the advanced levels of comparable products in the world. Reliability is a crucial determinant of product quality and a significant indicator of the manufacturing sector’s level of development. The Opinions provides a clear direction and important basis for improving China’s manufacturing reliability, enhancing supply quality in manufacturing, achieving high-quality development of manufacturing in China and boosting China’s strength in manufacturing.
- Improving both quantity and quality in China’s manufacturing sector
The manufacturing sector serves as a nation’s backbone, a means of revitalization, and an important engine for the economic development of a powerhouse. After decades of development, China’s manufacturing sector has achieved remarkable success, with scale expansion, a more stable industrial system, a more complete industrial chain, and increased overall strength and competitiveness. China now leads the world in manufacturing by virtue of its consistent increase in quantity and notable improvement in quality. China now has the most complete industrial chain and is the only nation to have all the sections of the International Standard Industrial Classification of All Economic Activities (ISIC) of the United Nations. China’s manufacturing value-added contributed about 30% of the global total in 2022, and the country has been without a doubt the world’s top manufacturer for 13 consecutive years based on manufacturing scale. The quality of some major equipment and high-tech products manufactured in China has surpassed or approximated that of developed countries, and a group of competitive manufacturing enterprises that drive industry development has emerged in China.
However, despite its rapid development, China’s manufacturing sector faces challenges such as a generally low level of product quality, a dearth of globally recognized brands and inadequate independent innovation capacity, showing its “big but not strong” status. Specifically, China’s product quality is not very stable, some manufacturing enterprises have issues with product design and production process, and they are less eager to achieve high standards and high quality, with insufficient attention paid to product quality and reliability; China’s brands not only have a poor reputation but also have a weak international influence, and some enterprises are mainly engaged in OEM services without independent R&D and their own brands, so China’s manufacturing sector still has room for improvement in terms of brand awareness and reputation in the international market compared to some developed countries; the abilities of China’s enterprises to innovate is inadequate, and they lack core technologies that are globally competitive, advanced technologies and original innovation capabilities, restricting improvements in product quality and added value.
- Encouraging the manufacturing sector to become stronger and better
To improve manufacturing levels and boost China’s strength in manufacturing, it’s necessary to take multiple measures in terms of quality supervision, brand building and technological innovation to strengthen the cornerstone of China’s manufacturing development, boost manufacturing to become stronger and better, and accelerate China’s upgrade from a manufacturer of quantity to one of quality.
On one hand, it’s important to strengthen product quality supervision to actually improve product quality. This involves improving the product quality supervision mechanism, standardizing the product quality supervision process, strengthening law enforcement system construction, integrating focal, linear and overall control, strictly enforcing the law in product production and distribution, and properly handling enterprises with quality problems in strict accordance with laws and regulations, in order to improve product reliability with increased supervision. This also entails developing quality management standards for the manufacturing sector that meet advanced international levels, defining product quality requirements and guiding enterprises to actively conduct quality benchmarking and meet related standards, in order to guide quality improvement with advanced standards. Additionally, this involves encouraging enterprises to establish advanced quality management systems, implement a new type of quality management that incorporates all personnel, processes, data and factors, work with both upstream and downstream enterprises in the industrial chain to strengthen supply chain quality control, improve quality, optimize product design and production processes, improve product quality stability and strengthen enterprise quality benefits.
On the other hand, it’s important to strengthen brand building to enhance brand value. Brands are the value embodiment of quality. A nation’s dominance in the value chain increases with the number of brands it owns. Therefore, it’s important to enhance the strategic framework for manufacturing brand development, improve the policy support system for brand cultivation, consolidate the foundation of brand productivity, focus on building a group of Chinese brands with independent intellectual property rights, high quality standards, strong core competitiveness and great prestige in the world and tell the stories of the brands “Made in China”, in order to increase the international market’s recognition of these brands. It’s important to fully utilize the leading role of top manufacturing enterprises in brand building, guide the enterprises to enhance their awareness of branding development and encourage them to create recognizable brands. It’s important to give play to the roles of authoritative media outlets to promote brands, raise awareness of them, and aid enterprises in growing their influence.
Furthermore, it’s important to strengthen breakthroughs in core technologies in key fields and enhance independent innovation capacity. Core technologies are of vital importance to a country. Independent innovation should be performed, and technological bottlenecks should be resolved, in order to acquire ownership of core technologies and create more products and technologies that enable a greater voice. Enterprises, as the subject of sci-tech innovation, have bright prospects in basic research and basic research for application. Therefore, to strengthen their capacity for independent innovation, enterprises should be encouraged and supported to invest more in sci-tech innovation, participate actively in basic research, and freely explore both core technologies in key fields and disruptive technologies in manufacturing. Measures can be taken to build an innovative system with enterprises as the primary entities and with efficient collaboration and deep integration between industry, academia, research and application, in order to combine the strengths of various entities to conduct core technology research, take the lead in sci-tech innovation, raise manufacturing quality standards and move China’s manufacturing toward the mid- to high-end segments of the global value chain.
Original article published in Science and Technology Daily on July 19, 2023