Chinese standards going global an unavoidable trend

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/4/28 23:18:40

Photo: IC

While China is set to release its China Standards 2035 - an industrial plan aimed at strengthening the development of next-generation technology standards - the global standardization game for emerging industries may have already begun. 

As a latecomer to the international standard-setting arena, China will, of course, face an uphill battle in catching up with traditional players. Western countries that have largely dominated the field will certainly not welcome the game-changer, but that won't change China's determination to actively influence standard setting in a growing number of emerging technological fields, from telecommunications to artificial intelligence. 

At present, China is still in a relatively weak position when it comes to the setting of international standards, although it is a major manufacturing power. 

Among the 160 or so member countries in the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), only a few developed countries define about 95 percent of ISO standards, with only 0.7 percent of all ISO standards set by China. 

The low level of inclusion in formulating global standards has often put China in an awkward situation. Even amid the shortage of medical supplies during the coronavirus crisis, the US Food and Drug Administration did not at the beginning authorize the use of KN95 masks, which meet Chinese standards and are almost identical in performance to the N95 masks that meet US standards. In early April, when it was unable to find an alternative choice, the use of KN95 masks was authorized.

There is no better example than this to explain why China needs to strengthen its standard development efforts: During the global pandemic, only China has had the manufacturing capacity to meet the world's demand, though it was shut out due to differences in standards. 

In the current international geopolitical environment, China Standards 2035 will likely spark another round of containment attacks from the US. But the standard-setting competition is an inescapable challenge facing China in the future world market. History shows that companies that translate their technologies into widely accepted standards earn massive revenues through market dominance. That is why the international standard-setting process is often accompanied by fierce competition. A country's ability to set international standards usually affects its trade and technology landscape.

China has been proactive in engaging in global standard setting for cutting-edge technologies in recent years. Huawei holds the highest number of standard-essential 5G patents, more than its closest European rivals Nokia and Ericsson. China has also made relatively fast progress in setting standards for construction projects like dams, power grids and reservoirs, while Western standard development in these fields has been stalling.

Chinese standards will inevitably reach the world, and that will not be stopped by geopolitical games.

Posted in: GT VOICE

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