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Excerpts from State Council policy briefing on Sept 8

Updated: Sep 8,2017 7:53 PM

The State Council held a policy briefing on Sept 8 in order to elaborate on the progress in streamlining administration and quality certification system.

Bigger steps in cutting red tape

According to the executive meeting of the State Council held on Sept 6, the government will expand a pilot reform already being tested in the Shanghai Pudong New Area, which allows for separate applications of business licenses and administrative approvals involving 116 approval items to 10 free trade zones across the country, including those in Tianjin, Chongqing, and Liaoning and Zhejiang provinces. Provincial governments are authorized to extend the measures to eligible national-level new areas, innovation demonstration zones, high-tech industry zones, and economic and technology development zones, Wu Zhilun, head of the State Council Office of the Government Examination and Approval System Reform, said.

He elaborated on some of the practices in Shanghai FTZ, such as its different approach to different categories of approvals.

“If the approvals cannot be canceled, the approval period and application materials should be reduced,” he said.

In addition, companies can make a commitment to follow a set of definite standards, be aware of security risks and the consequence of any violation, and then the approval process can be skipped over.

“Moreover, it can cultivate companies’ awareness of credit,” Wu said.

Other experience includes approval plus testing on site.

“Because it is in vain to test some of the items before operation,” he added.

Also at the executive meeting, it was decided 52 administrative approvals by central government departments will be canceled, plus another 22 administrative approvals that had been delegated to lower levels of government, Wu said.

Since the establishment of the current government in 2013, the number of State Council administrative approvals were reduced, from 1562 to 632, according to Guo Pei, a director from the State Council Office of the Government Examination and Approval System Reform.

“Among the 632 remaining approvals, there are over 300 approvals will definitely be remained in the future for their relation to health and security, while the other half is remained because there are no mature methods to replace them yet,” he said.

Despite these achievements, there are still difficulties in the process of cutting red tape. Wu explained as the government has got used to administrative approval, which indeed has certain effect for governance, it is hard to apply to a new approach, let alone the new approach may be not as effective as the old one.

“For example, the approval of new food with new raw materials, new additives, and new food-related products is still in implementation, for lack of a solid method to testify their liability,” he said.

Better quality of made-in-China products

The State Council executive meeting, on Sept 6, decided to promote the construction of a quality certification system in order to enhance the quality of made-in-China products, according to Tian Shihong, director of the Standardization Administration of China.

He said qualify certification was an international practice for quality management and trade facilitation.

“Certification is an assessment activity, performed by certification authorities, to prove products, services, management systems, and staff members meet relevant standards and technical specifications,” Tian said.

“China has established a certification system with international standards and has issued 1.77 million certificates.

“The number of issued certificates and recognized organizations has ranked first in the world for many years.”

He added, in the next phase, the General Administration of Quality Supervision would work with related departments to promote and strengthen quality certification with five major measures — promote an advanced quality management approach with intelligent and formation-based technologies; implement compulsory quality certification for products involving safety, health and environment protection, while providing incentives to encourage companies to voluntarily apply for certification; explore new methods of quality standard management, and exercise prudent supervision over new technologies, products and business models; strengthen quality certification supervision with a strict standards and encourage the development of quality certification institutions; and facilitate international cooperation for mutual recognition of quality certification.

Liu Weijun, deputy director of the Certification and Accreditation Administration of China, explained the values of the quality certification system, and said it acted as a third-party verification of credit.

“It cannot only convoy sense of trust to customers, but also to the public, government, enterprise and international community,” he said.

“The quality certification is also a “health checkup” of an enterprise.

“During the application and assessment process, the enterprise can know the weak points in its management and products which do not reach into the requirement of the standard.”

Liu added the certification could be a “pass” in the international trade, as the standards have been shared by the international community, so that the products that have completed the certification can be easily recognized by the international market.

“The government vows to upgrade the certification system, reforming the traditional assessment methods with new technologies such as internet and big data,” he said.

“For example, some checks can be conducted by online video, instead of by dispatching personnel to the scene.”

In addition to quality certification, Liu introduced more measures the government will take in order to enhance products’ quality, including upgrading quality standards, especially the ISO 9000 and ISO 9001 standard, encouraging high-end certification service, integrating the certifications of green products, fostering business models of quality certification, and expanding international cooperation.

He said the government would promote the unification of quality standards of the food sold in domestic and foreign market, provide low-cost certification service to micro, middle and small enterprises, and enhancing the basic technology of certification.

As for quality standards, Tian Shihong said the government is cutting some compulsory government standards to make room for market ones, as a response to a question about the public concern of the lack of effective standards.

He said the potential of market standards is being unleashed.

“After the reform, the standards made by enterprises do not have to be put into government record, instead, they should be open to public supervision. Over the past year, there have been over 110,000 companies opening over 400,000 standards, covering over 700,000 products and services,” Tian said.

He added the government was promoting the scientific management of standardization and setting up a public service platform, in which compulsory standards can be open for free, and recommended ones can also be understood.