More than 70 members of China's top political advisory body backed a proposal to revive a mandatory home-grown standard for radio tag technology, a move that could create a new rift between China and the United States over technology standards.
The proposal, submitted to the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), asks regulators to repeal an order from 2005 that, according to the proposal's backers, led to a de facto suspension of the promotion and adoption of NPC (national product code), a Chinese standard for radio frequency identification (RFID).
RFID is increasingly used for a number of applications such as identity verification, logistical tracking, storage and customs management. RFID is already used in the national identification cards carried by Chinese citizens, and in the retail sector it could replace bar codes to automatically identify individual items.
The Ministry of Information Industry (MII) has forecast that the global market for RFID technology could be worth $300 billion in the coming 5-10 years, and China, a global manufacturing hub, could account for a large share.
China's NPC competes with the EPC (electronic product code), a US-developed standard.
The proposal submitted at the CPPCC meeting describes RFID standards as a matter of national information security. With NPC, China could build and maintain its own database of information on products, manufacturers and transport methods, while the EPC-based system is maintained in the United States.
The General Administration of Product Quality Supervision and Quarantine (AQSIQ) and the Standardization Administration of China (SAC) set NPC as a mandatory national standard on April 16, 2003.
But in 2004 the Article Numbering Center of China (ANCC), which is affiliated to the AQSIQ, became the sole body in China authorized by EPCglobal, an organization representing the interests of the EPC standard, to promote the American standard in China. The managing deputy director of ANCC went on to become the chief executive officer of EPCglobal China.
That effectively made EPC a de facto standard in China, said the proposal, which accused the SAC of taking advantage of some setbacks in promoting NPC to curb the adoption of the Chinese standard.
Some manufacturers have shied away from NPC because most of China's products are exported overseas, and manufacturers strike to meet international standards to be able to fill orders from clients like Walmart.
Still, the proposal to the CCPCC said China still needed to set its own standard. It also said it was poor form for a government-affiliated body to act as an agent in promoting a foreign standard.
The proposal called for the government to set up an independent agency to oversee issues involving RFID standard-setting.
Source: China Daily