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International Standards to Help Domestic Geese Lay Golden Eggs
The government's decision to fully jump on the standardization bandwagon is a clear and correct direction along the path of integrating China with the global economy.

But a lack of understanding among a few businesses may prove to be a stumbling block.

The Standardization Administration of China - the country's watchdog for all standardization activities - unveiled a blueprint on Saturday, pledging to adopt all the applicable international standards in place of most of its national technical codes within five years.

The vow is a fillip to most export-minded enterprises that believe that an industry-wide standard, internationally recognized and developed by consensus among trading partners, serves as the language of international trade.

But it is not music to the ears of some business members, who feel they cannot afford to upgrade production and process to international standards, given that they have yet to fight their way out of dire straits.

These businesses argue that to pursue international standards is like going on a wild- goose chase: China's equipment and expertise lags far behind foreign advanced countries.

But clinging to the backward, seemingly fit local standards and defying international and foreign advanced standards is in fact killing the goose that lays the golden egg.

With the country's entrance to the World Trade Organization and in the context of a growing mature market economy, China is increasingly integrated in the global market.

It is widely believed that businesses certified by the International Organization for Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission usually guaranteed enhanced product quality and reliability at a reasonable price.

With the options offered, why should consumers buy products and services operating in line with low and local standards?

According to an ancient Chinese saying, even if you take the best as your model you may only achieve the average.

What do you get if you only take the average as the model?

China now experiences the evil consequence of having its national and industry-wide standards appease the unprivileged production processes and equipment of the past decades.

Many industrial insiders have conceded that a low level of standards, rather than technology and equipment, contributed to the poor quality of products and retarded growth in export.

By turning a deaf ear to the plea of embracing international standards, businesses risk ruining their future and upsetting the apple cart of due government departments.

It's high time for business executives as well as government policy makers to implement a swift switch to pursue international standards. In this case, conceptual change should go before financial prodding.

Equally important is the effort to ensure that international standards, after being introduced, apply to Chinese products being consumed both at home and abroad.

Chinese travelers as well as foreigners marvel at the many made-in-China souvenirs - such as lighters and cameras - at some overseas tourism sites. But it is a fairly good bet that they are rarely found in domestic markets.

The phenomenon is a result of applying different standards to the same category of goods - higher international standards for exports and local, average standards bound for domestic consumption, according to participants attending the National Work Conference on Adoption of International Standards on Saturday in Beijing.

It is understandable that in the first years when China opened to the outside world, some local producers tended to win foreign customers by offering the best they had and made souvenirs in line with international standards.

But domestic consumers too deserve secure and sound services and commodities.

As their purchasing power improves, domestic consumers have shown an ever-rising interest in goods and services provided in line with international and advanced standards.

By implementing international standards on goods and services across the board, businesses will increasingly allow the public share the benefit of standardization.

It will enable them to better work with industry, government, standards developing organizations and other groups to ensure Chinese products and services are competitive in world markets and attractive to global consumers.

(People’s Daily August 6, 2002)

China Active in International Standardization Move
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