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228 39 A Conversation with German Expert Werner Gerich1 November 29, 1988 ZRJ: Welcome to Shanghai. Today, I’d like to hear about your observations on Shanghai. Feel free to say whatever you like. Gerich: Since arriving in Shanghai on October 28, I’ve only toured the Huangpu River once. The rest of the time, including Saturdays and Sundays, I’ve been working, so I know very little about your city and don’t have many observations about it. However, I have more to say about Shanghai’s factories. I’ve visited 17 different enterprises, some of them more than once. Overall, Shanghai’s Office of Santana Indigenization Coordination and the Joint Company of the Shanghai Automobile and Tractor Industries are working very hard. I don’t mean to deny their achievements in indigenization, but we should also see that there is a need for improvement in many areas. Many enterprises should improve the quality of their production process—this sort of improvement does not require much investment. I feel that production enterprises should not have two types of quality standards, export and domestic . If the good-quality products are exported and the poor-quality ones are sold domestically, the products’ reputation will be ruined, and such factories in Germany would go bankrupt. Production enterprises can only have one type of quality standard, and the standard should be gradually raised. At most of the factories I saw in Shanghai, the working environment was very dirty. If the environment could be a little cleaner during production, product quality would be greatly improved. This is a weak link in many of your 1. Werner Gerich was a German expert on engine manufacturing and iron-core technology. From 1984 to 1986, he was engaged by the Wuhan city government to serve as director of the Wuhan Diesel Engine Factory. During his term, he worked to improve product quality and internal operational management mechanisms at that enterprise. For this, he was praised by leaders at the State Council and the State Economic Commission and was described as the “foreign factory director” by the media. After returning to Germany at the end of his term, he remained very interested in China’s development and visited China many times. He inspected 17 enterprises during this visit to Shanghai. Zhu Rongji met with him specifically to hear his views. Zhu_Shanghai Years_1987-1991_hc_9780815731399_i-xii_1-620.indd 228 12/26/17 12:00 PM A Conversation with German Expert Werner Gerich 229 factories. It doesn’t require a very large investment to make the environment a little cleaner. When I went to the glass factory,2 it pained me to see that the window glass was broken. At many of the factories I saw, shop doors were open, window glass was broken, and a lot of dust was entering. This is extremely harmful to machinery. I think that there will definitely come a day when factories like this cannot continue to operate. From the outside looking in, the factories are new, but once you go in and look around, the machinery looks like it has been used for five years or even longer. The interior walls of German factories are all painted white and most containers are made of stainless steel. We not only keep windows and doors closed, but even container lids are kept closed. Your windows and doors are wide open and the floors are very dirty. With that much dust, it’s like producing on a street. You must understand that to machine products, dust is virtually toxic. At the tire factory, the rubber raw material was all covered with dust. Producing with this kind of raw material is sure to affect product quality. The rejection rate for latex gloves made by the Shanghai Latex Factory is as high as 8–10%. It should think about why this is so and think of ways to change this. A branch of the Shanghai Piston Factory at Qingpu has spacious grounds but hasn’t fully utilized them. All the windows in the casting shop were broken —it looks like Germany in 1945, five minutes after the end of the war, and it pained me to see this. If I were to work at the factory for half a year, I would change it beyond recognition. There was a thick layer of dust in the materials warehouse; forklifts were being repaired on one side, and machine oil was dripping onto aluminum ingots. In this kind of environment and with...


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