我應中國質量監督檢驗檢疫總局的邀請，於 2014 年 9 月 15 日在北京人民大會堂舉行的首屆中國質量大會上，以「質量與創新」為題，發表主題演講。我指出質量是創新的基礎，並以能源及食物安全為例，說明唯有在產品安全可靠的基礎上發揮，創新才有意義。
中國質量大會是國家級重點會議，籌劃多時。李克強總理破例親自出席，作了 30 分鐘疾呼提昇中國質量的訴求。其他主題演講者包括中國工程院院長周濟、國家質量監督檢驗檢疫總局局長支樹平，以及美國前商務部長卡洛斯‧古鐵雷斯。來自全球 40 多個國家的質量組織及企業高層代表、國務院及各省市質量部委領導、以及國內企業主管等 700 餘名海內外專家出席大會。
然而，令人遺憾的是，我準備的 PowerPoint 在演講當頭，因為現場設備一再出狀況以及支援人員的輕忽，以致未能在演講中發揮預設的功能。我以圖表顯示 “百年來每一次質量的更上層樓都是創新，而每一次的創新都涵蓋了前一次的質量標準” 的重要概念，因而無法顯現。
Love well, chide well
I delivered a keynote speech at the invitation of China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), entitled "Quality and Innovation" at the inaugural China Quality Conference held in the People's Great Hall in Beijing on 15 September 2014.
I pointed out in my speech that quality was the basis of innovation. I illustrated this idea by pointing out that innovation in energy and food safety is meaningful only when it is based on product safety.
Quality is a global issue these days. The concept of quality control has migrated from industrial production to government, public utilities sectors as well as the higher education sector. The quality of products and services are a comprehensive indicator, benchmarking not only a country's scientific innovation and reputation, but also showing whether its management mechanism at the national level is sound or not.
The China Quality Conference is an important conference at the national level, the planning of which took a long time. It was honoured by the presence of Premier Li Keqiang, which was unprecedented. He delivered a 30-minute talk calling for improved quality in China. Other speakers included Mr Zhou Ji, President of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, Mr Zhi Shuping, Minister of AQSIQ, and Mr Carlos Miguel Gutierrez, former US Secretary of Commerce.
Among the more than 700 domestic and overseas experts participating in the conference were senior representatives of quality organisations and enterprises from more than 40 countries, heads of different quality-related departments from the Chinese State Council and from different provinces and municipalities as well as top administrators of domestic enterprises.
The Great Hall of the People, representing the face of the nation, was chosen as the venue of the conference because of the high number of distinguished participants. The selection process for attendees was particularly strict because of the choice of venue, and there were a number of rigorous safety checks. No stones were left unturned as far as security was concerned.
One disappointing aspect was that the PowerPoint slides I had prepared for the talk failed to play their presumed role because, ironically, some of the facilities malfunctioned and the support staff were negligent. I meant to illustrate with my slides "how the enhancement of quality depends on innovation over the past 100 years and how every innovation encompasses previous quality standards", but failed to do so because of these problems.
But there is a silver lining to everything. I took this opportunity to point out how a very important quality conference that had drawn national attention and was being held in the magnificent Golden Hall of the Great Hall of the People would find projection screens flickering and technical staff not doing their jobs.
A miss is as bad as a mile: this technical problem acted as an appropriate footnote to my comments on the status of quality in China.
In fact, such phenomena are quite common on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, where being street smart or superficial can be greatly emphasised, but quality is not. Everyone is to blame, really. Food packaging in Taiwan, Hong Kong and mainland China gets fancier all the time while food safety issues like illegal cooking oil is only the tip of the iceberg. I have pointed this out many times before, but no one seems to listen.
Attention to quality has to start from the basics. A culture of quality should be a priority for the government as well as for society as a whole.
A thousand-mile trip starts with the first step. With no quality, we have no right to talk about innovation!
27 October, 2014