Consumers’ rights are essential part of supply-side reform
With much fanfare, China’s state broadcaster China Central Television named and shamed a bunch of wrongdoers, particularly some e-businesses, in its annual gala to markWorld Consumer Rights Day, which fell on Tuesday this year.
Such a ritualized media campaign against suspected business misconduct is certainly of value to Chinese consumers who deserve stronger protection from all kinds of frauds, fake goods and poor services.
Unfortunately, it has become increasingly less influential because of both declining audience ratings resulting from the fierce competition the traditional broadcasters face from Internet-based newmedia, and the lack of effective follow-up efforts in the past to address rising consumer complaints.
However, this is not a challenge only for CCTV.
Chinese policymakers should also recognize the very urgent need to significantly strengthen protection of consumer rights, and implement stronger legislative and administrative measures. If Chinese consumers are expected to do the heavy lifting to push forward economic growth, their legal rights must be expanded and defended in line with the latest developments in consumption patterns and trends.
In other words, promoting the greater satisfaction of Chinese consumers will determine the speed and sustainability of consumptionled growth.
In 2015, consumption contributed 66.4 percent to GDP, up 15.4 percentage points from 2014. The unexpected decline in exports and sluggish investment growth disproportionately enlarged the contribution consumption made to the Chinese economy last year.