Consumers lead fight for improved rights
China Daily Updated: 2006-03-15 05:45
World Consumers' Rights Day, which falls on today, is an occasion for every citizen, as nobody can sustain their own lives without consuming.
It seems reasonable that every consumer should have the awareness of protecting their own rights and interests, and not infringing upon the rights and interests of others.
Unfortunately, infringement upon rights and interests has become a common concern for the general public.
In the past 20 years since the first Consumers' Day was observed on the Chinese mainland in 1986, the Chinese Consumers Association has handled more than 8 million complaints and recovered losses of more than 6 billion yuan (US$740 million) for consumers.
The news about poisonous plastic film used for wrapping food in supermarkets, the special material used in frying pans suspected of causing cancer and fake products of various kinds have sent shivers down the spine of consumers.
The figures from the association send us a message that the situation is still quite severe, and we should do more in the battle to protect the rights and interest of consumers.
"Consuming and Environment" is the theme for the fight this year.
It requires efforts from almost all areas to create a sound environment for consumers.
For manufacturers and producers, making counterfeit or low-quality products will certainly disturb the environment. For authorities, ineffective supervision or administration may cause trouble for consumers. For service providers, inadequate procedures or loopholes make things inconvenient for consumers. For consumers, they need to be better equipped with legal knowledge to fight for their rights.The message is that everybody needs to contribute to the creation of such an environment.
Each person has many roles to play. If he consumes, he is a consumer, but if he gets involved in production, he is a producer as well.
While people can escape from one of their many roles, they can never stop being a consumer.
From this perspective, those who infringe upon the rights and interests of other consumers by providing poor service or even conducting fraudulent activities are creating a bad environment for themselves.
Of course the reality of the situation is a more complicated picture.
Local protectionism, corruption, factional interests and irrational distribution of wealth have all contributed to an undesirable environment for consumers.
Efforts from consumers are far from enough to solve all these problems. Government departments or judicial institutions must intervene in many cases.
Compared with the past few years when the focus of March 15 was on specific hazards for consumers, "Consuming and Environment" has placed emphasis on the joint efforts of both the government and consumers.
We could go further and say that the fight this year has targeted the roots of the problems consumers face.
Undoubtedly, it will take a long time to build a truly harmonious environment for consumers. However, when we achieve this environment, we still cannot afford to relax.
From this perspective, every positive step taken by a consumer makes a difference.
(China Daily 03/15/2006 page4)