AUGUST 8TH 2015
ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER QUALITY CONTROL SCANDAL IN CHINA
Only days after a toddler’s mother was swallowed whole by a malfunctioning escalator in Hubei Province, a mall employee on another Shenlong Elevator Co., Ltd. built escalator in Shanghai narrowly avoided a similar fate—but at the cost of a leg. Although escalator deaths are extraordinarily rare, similar death or injury related mechanical failures are becoming ever more commonplace in China, leaving the general public to call the quality of such machines and the companies who produce them into question.
According to one news report, in July alone, there have been several serious incidents involving elevator lifts and escalators across the country, resulting in death or serious injuries. Routinely captured on camera, such tragic scenes quickly go viral online to a Chinese public increasingly interconnected and dissatisfied. Though China’s economic development has taken off at breakneck speeds, it’s attitude toward safety, quality control, and maintenance has fallen behind, leading to frequent industrial accidents such as fires, building and bridge collapses, and ships sinking or colliding.
A majority of the blame can be laid at the feet of China’s Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine (AQSIQ). With little to no oversight, Chinese companies are entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring the safety standards of their products. Most companies, however, choose to keep their prices low and competitive at the cost of quality. For escalators and elevators alone, AQSIQ experts point to a proliferation of concerns, including manufacturing defaults, over use, lack of maintenance and poor inspections that can lead to dangerous events as seen recently.
For now, Hubei authorities have issued urgent instructions to suspend the use of escalators produced by Shenlong until further notice. They have also ordered a thorough inspection of all the elevators and escalators in service. But if China’s quality control authorities are accurate in that among the 2.3 million registered elevators and escalators in China, over 110,000 of them have safety problems, then incidents become less of a probability and more of a inevitability.
The aforementioned erratic regulatory environment could be a source of trepidation for foreign companies looking to manufacture products in China. The importance of third parties to facilitate that journey, while guaranteeing quality control and assurance, will remain paramount within a China where attitudes toward quality and safety remain cavalier. Until an effective and transparent regulatory framework is established, eyes, ears and boots on the ground are necessary at all times to facilitate consistent product quality and reliability.
Annex Asia Publishing firstname.lastname@example.org