Beyond Government Control of China's Standardization System –– History, Current Status and Reform Suggestions

17 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2016 Last revised: 1 Aug 2016

See all articles by Ping Wang

Ping Wang

China National Institute of Standardization

Zheng Liang

Tsinghua University

Date Written: January 1, 2016


This Think Piece traces the ancient sprouting of standardization in China, the evolution of the Chinese standardization system including the formation of governmental management system in the planned economy period, the adjustment of the system after the reform and opening‐up, the overview of the current standardization system, the evolution of the government‐dominated standardization strategy, and its achievements and weaknesses. The paper argues that the top‐ down, government‐centered standardization system was instrumental for China’s successful catching‐up, now needs to adjust to new challenges.

The current standardization management system of the government primarily formed during the planned economy period and deeply rooted in the Chinese tradition and culture of the long history. The main characteristics of current system are the institutional fragmentation and the multi‐ decision‐making entities of government. The reform measures and the strategy adopted by China’s government in the field of standardization have been approved generally successful in the economic development. The technology‐following strategy and the standard dual‐adoption policy adopted at the initial stages for the reform and opening‐up (1980‐2000) made the technology transfer function of standard fully played. Standard became a effective channel for the technology spillover effect in the course of trade. In China's rapid economic development period (2000‐2010), the strategy of using standard to foster and promote indigenous innovation by the government was also very effective, and weaknesses of system were not obvious during that period. However, after the slowdown in economic growth started (2010‐2015), problems caused by the government’s role in standardization have been becoming more and more prominent, including excessive governmental intervention, multi‐decision‐makers discordance and innovation hindering. Government withdrawal in the most part of voluntary standardization management is a prerequisite for cultivating self‐ organized private standardization.

Suggested Citation

Wang, Ping and Liang, Zheng, Beyond Government Control of China's Standardization System –– History, Current Status and Reform Suggestions (January 1, 2016). Working Paper, East-West Center Workshop on Mega-Regionalism - New Challenges for Trade and Innovation. Available at SSRN: or

Ping Wang (Contact Author)

China National Institute of Standardization ( email )

Zheng Liang

Tsinghua University ( email )

Beijing, 100084

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