China is overhauling its national technical standards to make
sure they comply with economic development needs and facilitate
international trade, the Standardization Administration of China
Administration director Li Zhonghai says his agency will
eliminate outdated and ineffective national standards this year,
while taking a hard look at how China's compulsory standards
conform with the World Trade Organization's Agreement on Technical
Barriers to Trade (WTO/TBT).
"Any national compulsory standards that fail to conform with the
legitimate objectives stated in the WTO/TBT will be either
abolished or revised," Li said.
The WTO/TBT says a member's technical regulations should not be
more trade-restrictive than necessary to fulfill a legitimate
objective, such as national security requirements, the prevention
of deceptive practices, or the protection of human health or
safety, animal or plant life or health or the environment.
Nearly 14 percent of China's 20,906 national standards are
compulsory. They cover areas such as products, safety, hygiene and
The remaining national standards will be removed, modified or
merged with similar standards, depending on how they fit in with
economic development and market demands.
A national standard should be assessed for efficacy within five
years of its issuance and revised within three years, according to
the country's standardization statutes.
However, largely owing to a lack of funding, many Chinese
national standards have been in use for more than 10 years without
being assessed or revised, according to Li Zhonghai.
The standardization agency will eliminate those it deems
obsolete and unproductive, and drastically cut the total number, he
Instead of holding an annual meeting to plan standards, as in
the past, the agency will solicit ideas for national standards at
its http://www.sac.gov.cn/ website
beginning this year.
More than 2,300 national standards that were planned before 2000
are still being drafted. Experts said that by mobilizing forces
from all walks of life, the standards will be written in a more
timely and practical fashion.
"We encourage businesses to participate in the creation of
national standards, based on the principle of transparency and
fairness," said Li.
He reiterated that China will step up its adoption of advanced
international standards, which are key to production efficiency and
Under the WTO/TBT, international standards must form the basis
for standards being developed by members.
By the end of last year, 44.2 percent of China's national
standards were based on international and foreign standards,
according Li. However, many were based on foreign standards that
were issued a decade ago.
By 2006, China expects to have 70 percent of its national
standards derived from advanced international and foreign
The success of the country's shipbuilding sector shows the
importance of following global practices.
More than 80 percent of its technical standards are based on
international standards, a fact that has helped it to chalk up
sales of US$8.5 billion between 2000 and 2003, according to sources
with the China State Shipbuilding Corp.
(China Daily April 2, 2004)