SAMR’s Interpretation of the “Key Areas of Implementation for Enterprise Standards ‘Top Runners’ in 2020”



The Enterprise Standards “Top Runners” scheme was designed and launched to encourage enterprises to improve the quality of their products and services. It is based on the disclosure and supervision of enterprise standards published on the Enterprise Standard Information Public Service Platform – which is clearly encouraged by Art. 27 of the Standardisation Law. According to the scheme, a list of enterprises with higher level of standards for their products and services in certain areas is selected every year as‘top runner’enterprise. The evaluation, assessment and identification of enterprise standards ‘top runners’ is conducted by third-party agencies.

On 20 August 2020, State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) issued the Key Areas of Implementation for Enterprise Standards‘Top Runners’in 2020. The document illustrates a list of product and service areas, within which enterprise standards will be compared and evaluated, and the final list of ‘top runners’ will be selected. The publication of the document marks the beginning of the enterprise standards ‘top runner’ scheme in 2020.


  • What are the key areas of implementation, and why are these needed?

According to GB/T 4754-2017 Industrial classification for national economic activities, it is estimated that China’s current national economy is structured on more than ten thousand industries – and the number of product and service categories circulating on the market is even more challenging to estimate. Among these many industries, the degree of disclosure of enterprise standards varies significantly, making it impossible to evaluate them all at once. Therefore, every year a set of key industry areas are determined by competent authorities: these will be the focus areas – that is, key areas of implementation – in which enterprise standards will be evaluated in the corresponding year.

Once determined, the key areas of implementation will always remain in the list for all the following years. This means that the scope of the key areas of implementation will continuously expand every year in line with the implementation of the enterprise standards ‘top runners’ scheme.


  • How are the key areas of implementation determined?

On 13 April 2020, SAMR issued the Notice on the Solicitation of Key Areas of Implementation for Enterprise Standards ‘Top Runners’ in 2020, soliciting all provinces, regions, municipalities and eight central government ministries to submit suggestions for the key areas of implementation for 2020. The Notice specified that the suggestions had to focus on the industries classified by GB/T 4754-2017 Industrial classification for national economic activities as Grade 3 or Grade 4.

All suggestions received were collected by the China National Institute of Standardisation (CNIS) – the key agency for the ‘top runners’ scheme. CNIS then organised an expert discussion, on the basis of which the list of key areas of implementation for 2020 was determined. The final list covers 184 areas, including agriculture, consumer goods, equipment manufacturing, emerging industries and services. Among them, 131 are new areas in 2020 and 53 are key areas that had already been determined in 2019.


  • What are the main changes introduced in this year’s key areas compared with those of 2019?

Compared with key areas in 2019, this year’s key areas of implementation differ in the following aspects:

  1. GB/T 4754-2017 Industrial classification for national economic activities is officially introduced as the basis for the selection of key areas in 2020. This makes the selection process more standardised and science-based compared to the previous year.
  2. In 2020, the list of the 184 key areas was determined based on the industrial classification of GB/T 4754-2017, and covers more than one thousand specific products and services. The scope of the list therefore was greatly expanded this year compared to 2019, when only around one hundred categories of products and services were covered.
  3. The new key areas added in 2020 include for the first time areas directly affecting the society: (i) agricultural areas (e.g. grains and oil, agricultural and sideline processing); (ii) sophisticated industries (e.g. new energy vehicles and aviation equipment); and (iii) social service industries (e.g. express delivery, Internet data, financial information and housekeeping). Therefore, the enterprise standards ‘top runners’ in 2020 will provide a more comprehensive and effective support for the high-quality development of various industries in China.


  • Why was GB/T 4754-2017 Industrial classification for national economic activities introduced as the basis for the selection of key areas in 2020?

The adoption of GB/T 4754-2017 is mainly based on the following three considerations:

  1. In 2019, the suggestions for the key areas of implementation received varied enormously, reflecting the different understandings and priorities of the various ministries, regions and provinces involved. The introduction of GB/T 4754-2017 in 2020 contributed to minimise such differences and to provide a reference to the collection process.
  2. The introduction of GB/T 4754-2017 marks a clear direction for the promotion of the enterprise standards ‘top runners’ scheme, by clarifying how many industries have been covered at present, and how many industries will need to be covered in the future.
  3. Finally, GB/T 4754-2017 is the most common and diffused classification system for industries within the management and operation procedures of government departments and enterprises in China. At the same time, the fact that GB/T 4754-2017 has been regularly updated over the years (currently at its fifth edition) ensures that the industrial classification system keeps pace with and best reflects China’s economic and social development.


  • What are the next steps?
  1. A series of ‘top runner’ standards (note: not ‘top runner’ enterprises, but ‘top runner’ standards) were proposed in the first half of 2020 to standardise and guide the work of evaluation agencies, and at the same time to guide the development of enterprise standards. At the same time, supporting materials such as evaluation guidelines and case studies have been prepared, and a further notice on the solicitation of evaluation agencies for the enterprise standards ‘top runners’ scheme will be officially published in the upcoming weeks.
  2. Another priority will be to continue improving the enterprise standards ‘top runners’ management information platform ( While retaining all the functions already introduced in 2019, the platform will add new functions to improve the user experience, such as selection of product and service categories, only review, automatic index comparison and ranking, etc.
  3. The final list of 2020 enterprise standards ‘top runners’ will be released in three batches in October, November and December. This will allow sufficient time to evaluation agencies for conducting research and evaluation of enterprise standards, thus ultimately ensuring the quality and authority of the list.

The original news in Chinese is available at:

By Haley WU on 21 September