Closely examine the packaging of any Chinese consumer product and you will most certainly find in the fine print the letters “GB”—the symbol for compulsory national standards. Sitting at the top of China’s standards hierarchy, the “GB” standards are formulated by the State Council and compliance with them is mandatory. Local governments and private entities may also adopt standards, and in many cases compliance is merely voluntary. Together, these standards prescribe uniform technical requirements for diverse fields ranging from purified water bottling to pharmaceutical manufacturing.
Yet, as the Chinese Government itself has recognized, the current standardization system—established in the late 1980s with the enactment of the Standardization Law (1989 Law)—no longer meets actual needs and has even slowed development. In an effort to modernize the system, earlier this year the State Council submitted to the NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) a draft revision to the Law (Draft), which the NPCSC reviewed last month. The Draft essentially aims at restructuring the existing standardization system, and below we provide a summary of its core content.