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Chinese Standards "Go Global" Faster to Drive the "Belt and Road" Construction

Submit Time:08-06-2017 | Zoom In | Zoom Out

Author: | Source:People's Daily


The "Belt and Road" construction articulated by President Xi Jinping is a major decision made by China to adapt to and lead the globalization and build a new open economic system. It has a very long-term and practical significance for exploring the path of economic growth, creating a new type of cooperative relationships, promoting the construction of a community of common destiny for all mankind, and allowing global countries to share development opportunities and achievements. Since the "Belt and Road" Initiative was proposed, it has received extensive response from the international community and stimulated great potential for cooperation. 

To promote the common prosperity and shared development of countries along the Belt and Road (hereinafter referred to as "Belt and Road" countries) through open cooperation and connectivity is a key task of the "Belt and Road" construction. Standards serve as the common language of international cooperation and connectivity and an important technological foundation of global governance system and economic and trade cooperation. Accelerating the pace of Chinese standards "going global" and promoting policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bonds are of great significance to boosting the "Belt and Road" construction. 

Fundamental role of the standards in the "Belt and Road" construction 

The standards are the quality assurance of infrastructure. Most "Belt and Road" countries are developing countries where the construction of energy, transportation, information and other infrastructure is relatively weak. When electricity is concerned, for example, power grids have not yet built in South Asia and African areas to the south of Sahara, and these places suffer from the world's most power shortage, with more than 1 billion people having no electricity; Russia, Central Asia and Eastern Europe are carrying out large-scale transformation and upgrading of their heavily aging power facilities; West Asia is developing new energy and promoting energy transformation, in order to reduce oil and gas dependence, and power construction has entered a period of rapid expansion. China has occupied the first place in the world in terms of the ability to construct railways, power grids, dams, bridges and other infrastructure, and its construction level has maintained a leading position in the world. A complete package of standard systems and quality systems has been formed. China has completed a large number of high quality world-class projects at home and abroad in recent years. Infrastructure construction benefits all walks of life and thousands of households, and brings visible and tangible benefits to local people. High-quality cooperation on infrastructure construction based on China's advantages and the Chinese standards will inject powerful momentum to the "Belt and Road" construction. 

Standards are the basic norms of connectivity. Infrastructure connectivity is a major trend of globalization and the foundation of unimpeded trade and people-to-people bonds. It has been prioritized in the "Belt and Road" construction. China initiated the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Global Infrastructure Connectivity Alliance (GICA). Infrastructure connectivity is also the focus of "Belt and Road" countries which align their development with the "Belt and Road" construction. For example, the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, Kazakhstan's "Nurly Zhol" (The Bright Road) Initiative, and Laos' strategy of "shift from a landlocked country into a land-linked nation" all have highlighted infrastructure connectivity. "Belt and Road" countries have varying infrastructure standard systems, and some of them even have not yet established standard systems to restrain infrastructure connectivity. Standards are the top priority for infrastructure connectivity. It is necessary to strengthen the alignment of the standards of "Belt and Road" countries and promote the interconnection of standards, thereby forming common standards with no gaps, no overlaps and no conflicts, which will provide a strong guarantee for "Belt and Road" countries in terms of infrastructure connectivity and safe operation. 

Standards are the basic support for capacity cooperation. Standards serve as the common language system in international trade. Products must meet the standards to promote the international capacity cooperation. Since the new century, China's equipment manufacturing industry has developed at a faster pace, and China's ability to manufacture high-end equipment has significantly enhanced. The gap between China and developed countries is getting smaller and smaller, and China has even surpassed developed countries in the fields of UHV, high-speed rail and nuclear power. Many of the world's first sets of major equipment related to these fields have been made in or created by China. It is important to speed up the transformation of Chinese standards to international standards, so that more products made in China can get the permit to "go global." This not only allows "Belt and Road" countries to use China's high-quality equipment, but also makes it possible to invest and build factories in the "Belt and Road" countries, in order to drive the transformation and upgrading of local manufacturing industries, and enhance the endogenous power of economic and social development of the "Belt and Road" countries. 

Remarkable results of Chinese standards "going global" 

Compared with developed countries in Europe and America, China's industrialization started late and standardization construction has lagged behind. Since the new century, the state has vigorously implemented the strategy of making China powerful through standards. President Xi Jinping stated that independent innovation should combine independent brands, intellectual property rights and standardization, and clearly regulated technology patenting, patent standardization, standard industrialization and standard internationalization. China's standardization construction has entered a rapid development stage. The success of Chinese standards in "going global" has played an indispensable, important role in the "Belt and Road" construction. 

China's voice in developing international standards has improved significantly. In the three international standards organizations, China has served as Chairman of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), Vice Chairman of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), and Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). China is a permanent member state of the IEC. Many Chinese experts have served as chief experts of professional committees in international standards organization. All these combine to substantially enhance China's voice in developing international standards. As of March 2017, China has submitted and established nearly 600 ISO/IEC standards, 39 of which were prepared by State Grid Corporation of China. 

China's standards related to strategic emerging industries have gradually caught up with and even surpassed developed countries' standards. In the traditional industries, international standards are dominated mainly by the United States, Germany, Japan and other developed countries. In high-speed rail, nuclear power, UHV, new energy and other strategic emerging industries, China has formed relatively complete standard systems. China has performed at the same level as developed countries in terms of standardization and joined the top ranks of the world. 

Since 2008, all the five new technical committees established by the IEC have been initiated by State Grid Corporation of China. China's electric vehicle charging and battery-swapping standard system, together with counterparts of the United States, Germany and Japan, is listed as the world's four major standard systems. International standards of UHV and new energy access developed by China have become important specifications for global engineering construction. Relying on the leading UHV technology, State Grid Corporation of China successfully won the bid of Phase I and Phase II ±800 UHV DC projects for Brazil Beautiful Landscape Hydropower Station Transmission, where Chinese standards were largely adopted. 

The international influence of Chinese standards is increasing day by day. Central enterprises insist on "going global" together with standards. The Ethiopia–Djibouti Railway contracted by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), with total investment of 4 billion US dollars, all used Chinese standards and Chinese equipment. The RAMU NICO project invested by Metallurgical Corporation of China Ltd. (MCC) in Papua New Guinea, with total investment of 12.3 billion yuan, adopted Chinese standards, driving exports of Chinese equipment worth 3.1 billion yuan. The hydropower station 500kV transmission project of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam contracted by State Grid Corporation of China, with total investment of 1.46 billion US dollars, was built according to Chinese standards and used main equipment 100% made in China. The project has been built as the most advanced power transmission project in Africa, and been identified as a youth patriotism education base by the Ethiopian government. The World Bank and a number of African countries dispatched personnel for inspection and spoke highly of the project quality and technical level. 

Chinese standards in support of the "Belt and Road" construction 

Promoting the "Belt and Road" construction is a great practice of building a community of common destiny for all mankind and a Chinese initiative designed to achieve innovative global governance and boost common prosperity, in which Chinese standards should play an important role. To allow more Chinese technologies to be identified as international standards and more Chinese standards to be internationally recognized, all walks of life should firmly raise the awareness of standards by attaching great importance to standards, improving the quality of standards and strictly implementing standards, and further advance the strategy of making China powerful through standards, thereby comprehensively enhancing the quality and level of Chinese standards. 

Strengthen the top-down design of standards. By taking the opportunity of the "Belt and Road" construction, we should accelerate the development of the national standardization strategy and establish an efficient work system. Through the joint efforts of government authorities which should play an organizing and coordinating role, enterprises which should play a principal role, and scientific research institutions, colleges and universities which should play a technical supporting role, they work together to carry out as a whole the strategic planning, technical roadmap and policy research of standardization, systematically summarize domestic and international standards as well as key countries' standards, organize the efforts to tackle key problems in blank standards, and establish scientific standard systems. 

Participate in the development of international standards. We should encourage more enterprises, scientific research institutions, and colleges and universities to select and send outstanding talents to international standards organizations, for in-depth participation in the development of strategies, policies and rules. It is necessary to make full use of international platforms to promote the transformation of Chinese standards into international standards. By seizing the historical opportunity of the development of strategic emerging industries, we need to do a good job in the development of standards at the starting line, accelerate the conversion of technologies in advantageous fields into standards, and promote the transformation of Chinese standards related to high-speed rail, UHV, new energy and electric vehicle into international authoritative standards. 

Push forward Chinese standards to "go global." We should extend the use of Chinese standards in the construction of major projects along the "Belt and Road," promote the whole chain of "Chinese technologies + Chinese standards + Chinese equipment + Chinese construction" to "go global," and build quality and demonstration infrastructure projects, in order to expand the international impact of Chinese standards. We should initiate the establishment of a "Belt and Road" infrastructure standardization alliance, build a platform for standards cooperation, establish a mechanism for collaborative work, and promote the mutual alignment and mutual recognition among railway, electricity, port, communications and other infrastructure standards of the "Belt and Road" countries. 

The world needs synergistic development of standards, and standards promote global connectivity. As long as we follow the principle of wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, combined with innovative thinking and unremitting efforts, Chinese standards will be able to play a greater role in the "Belt and Road" construction which, in turn, will have an increasingly promising prospect. 

(Author's affiliation: State Grid Corporation of China)

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