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The Use of ASTM Standards by Chinese Industry

by Li Wei

With China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, the role of standards is increasingly important. As Chinese standards are generally not considered as advanced as those of some other nations, Chinese authorities have begun to pay great attention to standardization. In order to improve the establishment and management of standards, the Standardization Administration of China (SAC) was set up in April 2001 to carry out the centralized administration of standardization in China. In July 2002, SAC held a National Conference on the Adoption of International Standards and Advanced Foreign Standards. During this conference, SAC presented an “International Standards Adoption Plan 2002 - 2005,” the aim of which is to gradually adopt more sophisticated international standards. Delegates to the conference, in their speeches, talked about the many benefits of adopting international standards. ASTM standards were mentioned by many presenters as contributors to the improvement of their enterprises.

In recent years, ASTM standards have found wide use across China. In the development of many national, professional, and enterprise standards, ASTM standards have been consulted or used to some extent. This article will discuss the application of ASTM standards in China.

The Use of ASTM Standards in the Development of Chinese National Standards

In the development of national standards for the People’s Republic of China, ASTM standards are frequently referenced or used. According to the statistics from the National Standards Center, there is a total of 658 standards that reference ASTM standards.

These standards cover many industries, including:

• Steel and metals;
• Petroleum and petroleum products;
• Construction;
• Plastic and plastic products;
• Corrosion;
• Rubber and rubber goods;
• Uranium and uranium bearing ores;
• Textile products;
• Coal;
• Stone;
• Natural gas;
• Adhesives;
• Kerosene;
• Cement;
• Ceramics;
• Surgical materials;
• Semiconductors;
• Packaging and shipping;
• Electronics and micro-electronics;
• Industrial methanol; and
• Air-conditioning and refrigeration,

The Use of ASTM Standards in Specific Sectors

Clearly, ASTM standards are widely used in many industries. Luo Qing of the China Natural Gas Standardization Technology Committee (CNGSTC) was interviewed regarding the use of ASTM standards for natural gas.

According to Luo, as early as the 1960s, the library of the CNGSTC subscribed to relevant ASTM standards. Lately the information has been collected on the Internet. ASTM has its advantages in materials standards and test methods; since a large part of CNGSTC’s responsibilties is research into the testing of natural gas and fuel gas, they keep abreast of ASTM standards. CNGSTC has established seven national standards for natural gas products, natural gas sampling, and component analysis of natural gas on the basis of ASTM standards.

As a result, the quality of every kind of natural gas can be tested. The diversified methods make it possible for producers and customers to choose appropriately according to the needs of different technical processes. These standards are in wide use in oil and natural gas fields and pipeline companies such as Sichuan, Daqing, Liaoning, Changqing, Xinjiang, Zhongyuan, Dianqiangui, Shengli, and Nanhai, as well as fertilizer plants and power plants, natural gas companies in various cities, and natural gas quality inspection organizations.

The establishment of these standards has contributed to the technological advancement of the Chinese natural gas industry, helped meet market demand for improved natural gas products, and helped pave the way for China’s natural gas to enter the world market. In the future, the Chinese natural gas industry will keep up with trends in ASTM’s standards and fully adopt or modify these to meet the need of the international development of China’s natural gas industry.

The Use of ASTM Standards in Enterprise Standards

In the National Conference on the Adoption of International Standards held in 2002, many enterprises talked about the benefits of their adoption of international standards. Some companies mentioned their experience in adopting ASTM standards and how these standards helped advance their technology, introduce fresh ideas, increase exports, and enhance company competitiveness.

Take Ningbo Veken Elite Group Co., Ltd., a textile manufacturer, as an example. Veken Group is typical of enterprises that have benefited from ASTM standards, which have contributed a great deal to the improvement of production technology and quality control. In 1998, in order to produce jacquard weave cloth for the export of bedclothes to the United States, Veken set up an enterprise standard for this product based on ASTM standards D 5431, Performance Specification for Woven and Knitted Sheeting Products for Institutional and Household Use, and ASTM D 4769, Specification for Woven and Warp Knitted Comforter Fabrics. The implementation of this enterprise standard played an active role in improving the quality of Veken bedclothes. Since it would have been very difficult to use traditional technology and management to meet the quality demand of this standard, Veken Group adopted sophisticated technology and improved the interior management of their enterprise in order to meet the requirements of the American marketplace.

In the past, Chinese enterprise standards were usually established from the producer’s point of view and often failed to take the consumer into consideration. Thus, when quality disputes arose, a reasonable solution was hard to find. But ASTM standards put a heavier focus on product performance, and so as long as products meet the relevant standards, few disputes will arise. In introducing ASTM standards, Veken Group organized relevant staff to discuss the effectiveness of these standards. The sophisticated quality standards helped professional and managerial personnel to transform their ideas and enhance quality awareness. In addition, after the adoption of the ASTM-based standards and this customer-oriented approach, Veken Group won the recognition of its customers and their exports increased.

From 1998 to 2000, Veken Group experienced an annual growth of 30 percent in sales. Veken bedding began to compete in the domestic and international markets and its trademark was registered in America, Japan, Australia, and Hong Kong.

In short, ASTM standards are widely applied in various industries in China. More and more enterprises have come to know the importance of ASTM standards. With China’s entry into the World Trade Organization and the expansion of international communication and international trade, ASTM standards will most likely increase in popularity and more and more enterprises will adopt them. //

Copyright 2003, ASTM

Li Wei has been an editor and reporter of China Standardization, China Association for Standardization (CAS) since June, 2002. She worked at various banks for more than a decade.