Updating Standardization Law in China

Updating Standardization Law in China

This piece was originally published in the December 2016 issue of electroindustry.

Zhang Liang, China Electrical Equipment Industry Association

The China Electrical Equipment Industry Association (CEEIA) is trusted by government authorities to administer 82 national technical committees (TCs), subcommittees (SCs), and working groups (WGs), which account for 71 TCs and SCs of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) mirrors and two International Organization for Standardization (ISO) TCs mirrors in the areas of power generation, transmission, distribution, and industrial power utilization.

CEEIA manages 2,025 national standards (approximately 85 percent of which are adoptions of IEC standards), including 286 mandatory standards, 1,683 recommended standards, and 56 national guidance documents. The existing national standards of the electrical industry account for 6.1 percent of total national standards.

In line with Deepen the Reform of Standardization, a document issued by the State Council in March 2015, China’s revised draft standardization law was circulated for public comment earlier this year. Although the draft law will be updated, it reveals several key elements of current law that will be changed.

The draft standardization law reflects the State Council’s vision that “the government will aim to foster the system developed by the main market players, by encouraging various associations and alliances to develop standards that meet the needs of the market and the country’s goals regarding innovation.”[1]

Changes to mandatory, recommended, and social organization standards will transform existing schemes in CEEIA.

Mandatory Standards

Under the draft law, mandatory standards at the industrial and local standards levels will be cancelled.

Mandatory standards will only exist at the national level. They will be regarded as technical regulations, and the overall number will be reduced. The entire process of developing mandatory standards will change. It is expected that government authorities responsible for the industrial sectors will take the lead and appoint organizations or TCs to develop mandatory standards.

CEEIA has been encouraged to update GB 19517 National Safety Technical Code for Electrical Equipment. This mandatory standard will be used as a technical regulation similar to the European Union’s Low Voltage Directive (LVD). The normative annex of this standard will provide an inventory of electrical safety standards. These standards, which by their nature are recommended standards, will be implemented as mandatory standards after being cited in the normative annex. This sets an example of how mandatory standards will be reformed.

Recommended Standards

Recommended standards will continue to exist at the national, industrial, and local standards levels. Together with mandatory standards, they are recognized as government-provided standards. They will be limited to common or basic areas, such as

  • terminology;
  • test or evaluation method;
  • basic technology, e.g., electrical safety; and
  • non-specific product areas, e.g., electric motor requirements that can be defined at national standard level.

While product category standards will remain at the national level, product-specific standards will be transferred to the industrial level. Because of conceptual changes to mandatory standards, many existing mandatory standards will be transformed into recommended standards. Standards adopted from international standards will be set at this level.

Social Organization Standards

Social organization standards, also known as market-provided standards, will be recognized in law. A social organization is defined as one that is registered as a legal entity; if a social organization is without legal-entity status, the standards published by that organization will be regarded as enterprise standards.

CEEIA, a legal-entity organization, is authorized as one of the pilot organizations to develop, publish, and manage social organization standards. Social organization standards will be used as a fast-response tool for innovative and leading-edge technologies. With the existing management scheme for national standards, CEEIA will treat social organization standards as a supplementary layer to the existing standards infrastructure for national and industrial standards. When leading-edge and innovative technologies are mature enough, CEEIA may apply to transform its social organization standards into national or industrial standards.


[1]“China issues guideline to deepen reform of standardization system,” english.gov.cn/policies/latest_releases/2015/03/26/content_281475078008940.htm

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