In the world of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) there are several categories of membership for the countries that participate in that international standards body. Full members are those National Committees that have access to all technical and managerial activities and functions, at all levels of the IEC, including voting rights in the IEC Council. There are also Associate members and affiliate members. Within the Full Member category, there is an additional classification for those countries who are the most active, and pay the highest fixed percentage of the dues - Group A. There are IEC management privileges that come with this classification, which must be approved by the IEC membership. Among these privileges are permanent member seats on the IEC Council Board and the Standardization Management Board, the top policy and technical committees of the IEC.
China has petitioned to become the seventh Group A country in the IEC. Those countries in this category should be held to stricter standards than the other members of IEC, in essence to prove their worthiness to stand among the few at that level.
- Group A members have to have earned their "chops" by taking on leadership roles in IEC management and technical committees, and by active participation in the standards development processes through submittal of comments and providing experts to enable good progress in completion of documents.
- Group A members should also play by the rules and guidelines for all of the IEC activities, including those in the conformity assessment area.
- Playing by the rules does not include rejecting certifications that are supposed to be accepted on the basis of peer assessment in order to prevent unnecessary product testing.
- Playing by the rules would mean working within the standardization structure and process to achieve improved documentation without threatening the IEC community with domestic development of competing standards should their requests not be followed.
- Playing by the rules would mean following and enforcing intellectual property rights conventions with respect to copyright and patents.
Especially because China has a huge potential market, and will be able to make significant contributions to the IEC community, they are applauded for applying to take the next step to become a Group A member and we look forward to their setting an example of how to play by the rules.