One of the main forms of China’s technical regulation is mandatory standards at national, professional and local levels.

It is stipulated in the Standardization Law of the People’s Republic of China that “standards for assuring health, and the safety of persons and their properties, and standards prescribed in laws and administrative regulations are compulsory, mandatory standards. Products that do not comply with mandatory standards are prohibited to be produced, sold or imported”.

Thus, it can be seen that mandatory standards have the characteristics of technical regulations.

Since China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in accordance with the relevant requirements of the WTO, all China’s mandatory standards concerning trade have been notified and have been largely recognized by the international society. By the end of the year 2013, the total number of China’s mandatory standards was 3 712.

It is stipulated in the Standardization Law of the People’s Republic of China that certain standards from the following categories can be mandatory standards depending on the risk that the product or activity poses:

  • Pharmaceutical standards; food sanitary standards; animal medicine standards
  • Safety and sanitary standards for products and standards for the production, storage and transportation, and use of products; occupational health and safety standards; transportation safety standards
  • Quality, safety and sanitary standards for engineering construction, and other engineering construction standards that the government needs to control
  • Pollutant emission standards and environment quality standards for environmental protection
  • Important general technical terminology, symbols, codes and drawing method standards
  • General testing, checking and inspecting method standards
  • Some interchanging and fitting standards
  • Important quality standards that the government needs to control

ISO Member Body

The Standardization Administration of China (SAC) is the ISO Member body in China.

Main forms of using standards in Chinese technical regulations

China’s national standards are mainly used in technical regulations in the following three forms:

  1. A mandatory standard itself becomes the technical regulation.
    As described above this is the most important form of technical regulation in China.
  2. Standards are either directly or indirectly quoted.
    The use of standards will become mandatory if quoted in regulatory documents such as legislative texts and departmental regulations. In most cases, the indirect option is chosen. For example, the relevant text of the regulatory document will state “…should comply with national or industrial standards…”.
  3. Part of a recommended standard is quoted in mandatory standards.
    This is where an extract of a standard is reproduced as part of the text of the regulatory document. The requirements in the extractwill then become compulsory.


The above three methods of referencing standards reflect the situation of how China’s national standards are used in technical regulations. When choosing which option to use and indeed which standard to reference, the WTO/TBT principles are applied.

This means that if an International Standard is available and it is considered to be suitable for China’s situation, efforts will be made to adopt the International Standard. This ensures that International Standards indeed become China’s technical regulations. At the time of writing this Guide, about 74 % of China’s standards are developed based on related International Standards.

The Chinese view on using standards in support of technical regulation is that, on the one hand, technical standards can help laws to regulate the market and, on the other hand, they can help legal and administrative measures to conduct necessary intervention in order to establish fair and reasonable competition for the market economic order. In China, laws only stipulate the general rules, while standards specify the technical criteria that facilitate the implementation of laws; and, in return, the implementation of laws can promote the carrying out of standards. Therefore, laws and standards actually supplement each other, working together for the realization of the overall objectives specified in the law and the implementation of technical standards. At the same time, standards are implemented compulsorily during the implementation process of laws.

Chinese Policy / Regulation Reference to standard/s

Energy Conservation Law of the People’s Republic of China (The 30th meeting of the standing committee of the 10th national people’s congress, revised on 28 October 2007)

Clause 15: The state carries out energy conservation assessment and examination system on fixed assets investment projects. If these projects fail to meet the mandatory standards of energy conservation, authorities responsible for their examination in accordance with the law should not give approval. Construction units should not start constructing. Those that have already been constructed should not be brought in operation. Specific methods should be formulated by energy conservation management department under the state council in conjunction with related departments.

Product Quality Law of the People’s Republic of China

Clause 13: Industrial products that could possibly endanger people’s health and the safety of persons and their properties must comply with national and industrial standards special for safeguarding people’s health, safety and properties. Industrial products that fail to meet the standards and requirements special for safeguarding people’s health, safety and properties are prohibited to be produced and sold.

Clause 14: Government promotes enterprise quality system certification according to the internationally practised quality management standards.

The Order of the State Administration of Work Safety of the People’s Republic of China Implementation Methods for Safety Production Licence for Firework and Firecracker Production Enterprises

Clause 8: Infrastructures of enterprises, such as workshops and warehouses, production equipments, production technology, and safety facilities which are anti-fire, explosion-proof, lightning protection and anti-static should conform to stipulations of national standards and industrial standards ,such as Safety code for design of engineering of fireworks and firecracker (GB50161) and Technical regulations for the working safety of fireworks and firecrackers (GB11652).

Clause 11: The variety, category, level, specification, quality, packaging and mark of products of the enterprises should conform to stipulations of national standards and industrial standards, such as Safety and quality for fireworks (GB10631).

The Order of the Ministry of Health of the People’s Republic of China Safety and Sanitary Management Method for Food Additives

Chapter 1, Clause 3: Food additives must comply with national safety and sanitary standards.

Chapter 3, Clause 13: Production and Management:
For those who produce compound food additives, the range and amount of every single food additive must comply with the “Safety and sanitary standards for the use of food additives” or the categories and their range and amount of use specified in the list announced by the Ministry of Health.


Chapter 4, Clause 19: In the instruction for use of labels it is stipulated:
For compound food additives, in addition to the requirements of labels specified in Clause 18, the name of any single food additive should also be labelled at the same time, and listed from big to small according to the amount contained in the compound food additives; the name used for any single food additive must be the same as specified in “Safety and sanitary standards for the use of food additives”.

National Examples Overview
Non-governmental bodies establish a contract or private regulatory regimens that can bring economic, social or environmental benefits.
Federal departments and agencies are to assess regulatory and non-regulatory instruments for achieving public policy objectives.
One of the main forms of China’s technical regulation is mandatory standards at national, professional and local levels.
European standards developed are implemented identically by all member bodies, with conflicting standards withdrawn.
In recent years, with the progress of regulatory reform, an increasing number of voluntary Japanese Industrial Standards (JIS) are being adopted.
South Africa
The development of voluntary national standards in South Africa is carried out by SABS, which is authorized to do so under the Standards Act.
United States of America
As a signatory of the WTO, the US is responsible for pursuing standardization activities that are in full compliance with the WTO/TBT.