There are four levels of China Standards, namely, National Standards, Professional Standards (Industry or Sector Standards), local standards and enterprises standards.

Chinese standardization system As showed in the above figure, currently, there are 4 level of China standards, National standards (titled GB/GBT), Ministry standards ( titled as JB/JBT YY/YYT, etc ), provincial standards (titled as DB/DBT), and enterprises standards.

The national standards are managed by SAC and drafted by China national Technical committees. GB standards are compulsory standards (substantially equivalent to technical regulations in the sense of the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade) while GBT are voluntary standards.

Ministry Standards are managed and drafted by different ministries or previous ministry-level organizations that were merged into some other ministries. Besides National standards, which are approved by SAC, there are more than 60 organizations who can develop ministry standards.

Provincial or local standards are drafted by local governments with DB reference for compulsory standards and DBT for voluntary standards.

Enterprises standards are developed by industries and for their own use only.

China Standardization process

National standards

The elaboration of a national standard follows the steps below:

  • The  working  group  drafts  the  standard,  which  is  then  circulated  to stakeholders for public consultation;
  • The  draft  standard  is  revised  according  to  comments  received  from stakeholders;
  • The Technical Committee ballots the draft standard. If the draft standard is approved, the Working Group finalizes it. If the draft standard is rejected, it is revised for further balloting;
  • The final draft is then sent to SAC for verification;
  • SAC assigns a reference number to the standard and publishes it;
  • Each standard is usually reviewed every five years.

Professional standards

The professional standards are generally issued for unified technical requirements within a specific national industry when there are not corresponding national standards. As provided in the Standardization Law, the professional standards shall be administrated by various administrative departments/ministries of the State Council. In each ministry, there is a specific department which is in charge of the sector standardization for the new standard items register, final draft approval and issuance.

Like national standards, professional standards can be either mandatory or voluntary.
Here is the list of mandatory standards:

  1. Pharmaceutical, veterinary, pesticides, food hygiene products;
  2. Security and health of the transport, use of agricultural and industrial products and production;
  3. Health, safety and quality of construction;
  4. Important terminology, symbols, codes, documents and planning methods related to technology;
  5. Mutual cooperation;
  6. Products that require controls via testing and inspecting methods as well as agricultural and industrial products.

Standards not listed here are voluntary standards.

The national standardization technical committee or the centralized technical standardization unit are responsible for issuing a standard project and organizing its drafting and examination.
The competent centralized administration for professional standards has to send two copies of the standard project to the competent department of the State Council.

According to the requirements of the standard project, the Working Group in charge of the standard draft submits the draft to comments.
After soliciting the views of all stakeholders, the comments are sent to the National Standardization Technical Committee or to the centralized technical standardization unit for check and review.
When the National Standardization Technical Committee is in charge of examining the draft, it does it according to the “National Standardization Technical Committee Charter”.

When the centralized technical standardization unit is in charge of examining the draft, the presence of manufacturers, users, distributors, researchers from important institutions is required. The users’ proportion cannot be lower than one quarter of the present representatives.

The standard project examination can be carried out by means of meetings or by written. The project must be fully discussed, in order to reach consensus. The agreement of at least three quarters of the delegates attending the meeting is needed for the project to be approved. When it is a written agreement, three quarters of the replies should be in favour. The results should accurately reflect the views of all sides. The participation rate and the reply rate cannot be lower than two thirds.

The professional standards are approved, numbered and published by the centralized administration for professional standards.

The results of the examination should respect the summary record of the meeting or the conclusions of the written examination.
Both voluntary and mandatory standards projects must be commented by the National Standardization Technical Committee or the centralized technical standardization unit and approved by the centralized administration for professional standards.

Each standard is usually reviewed within five years.

The review is organized by the centralized administration for professional standards and performed by the National Standardization Technical Committee or the centralized technical standardization unit.

The review can be performed by means of meetings or by writing. For the review of a standard, the same examination unit and delegates that worked for the standard elaboration are required.

Local standards

If there is no national, industry or existing local standard, a standard project can be submitted. Local standards can be mandatory or voluntary.

• Project

According to needs, competent authorities of the municipality, the technical committee, or the municipal Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision can draft a project of creation of a local standard.

• Drafting and comments

  1. After the approval of the project, the group in charge of drafting conducts research and collects comprehensive information. After analysis of the data, and according to the requirements for standardization, the draft is submitted to comments;
  2. The drafting unit communicates the comments to all of the related authorities by means of meetings or by written;
  3. The drafting unit put the collected information in a summary table and the standard is sent for examination;
  4. After audit with competent authorities, the municipal Bureau of quality, technical Supervision examines the standard;
  5. If the procedure is not finished in due time, the municipal Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision must, by written, explain the reasons and apply for an extension of maximum 1 year. Beyond that period, the project is abandoned.

• Examination

  1. The municipal Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision or the competent authority, according to the stipulation of the standard examination committee, can examine the standard along with a group of 7 experts from standardization technical committees, industrial associations, institutes or technical and scientific research institute;
  2. The examination committee analyses whether the standard project does not go against law, stipulations, regulations, but also against related national and professional standards;
  3. The examination committee must organize meetings with stakeholders for balloting. The draft needs at least three quarters of the votes to be concluded and signed.

• Approval and filing

  1. After the final technical report drafted by competent authorities, the draft standard is sent to the municipal Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision for approval;
  2. The municipal Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision puts the approved standard for public review for a maximum of 30 days;
  3. If the draft standard is not opposed (or not for valid reasons), the standard is approved by the municipal Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision, numbered then published;
  4. After being published, the municipal Bureau must send the approved standards to the provincial Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision within 30 days for them to file the standard.

Enterprise standards

Enterprise standards are never mandatory and are developed by individual companies on their own initiative – an enterprise standard is usually filling a gap in the market.

Standards are the key to guide the production and operations of enterprises. If there is no standard issued by higher authority, the products follow enterprises standards.Application

In order to launch a standard project, local enterprises have to address their municipal or county Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision.

• Request

The enterprise willing to draft a standard should form a group of expert on standardization of the related field so that they can carry out a technical examination.

• Procedure

The enterprise standards procedure follows the same steps as the local standards process.