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China has set out on an ambitious agenda of aiming to become the world leader in artificial intelligence by 2030. Policy experiments for a critical part of China’s AI development strategy, and to that end multiple government think tanks have set out formulating standards that may impact AI innovation in China.

The China Electronics Standardization Institute (“CESI”), the major think tank responsible for standardization work under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (“MIIT”), is one of the key players in AI standardization in China. On January 24, 2018, CESI released the Artificial Intelligence Standardization Whitepaper, which summarizes current developments in AI technology, standardization processes in other countries, China’s AI standardization framework and China’s plan for developing AI capabilities going forward.

Since the release of that whitepaper, CESI continued its standardization work on two parallel tracks.  As the lead agency for China, CESI has been actively engaged in developing international standards. It is an active member of the ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 42 subcommittee that develops international standards for the AI industry.

To both support CESI’s international standard-setting work and to develop China’s domestic AI standardization framework, CESI has established three working groups: one working group aiming to produce guidelines for establishing the AI standardization system in China, one working group focusing on AI and open source, and another on AI and social ethics. The three working groups are due to produce papers that will guide China’s standardization efforts in the years to come by the end of this year.  CESI aims to leverage China’s domestic standardization work in the development of international standards, while at the same time to learn from international stakeholders when formulating its own standards.

Some of the national AI standards led by CESI have already been finalized, such as Specification of Programming Interfaces for Chinese Speech Recognition Internet Services. More standards are under development or slated for development in the near future.  These standards cover the categories of testing and evaluation, AI platforms, edge intelligent computing and chip, machine learning, computer vision, human-machine interaction, augmented reality, virtual reality, robotics, smart home, intelligent medicine and AI security.

In parallel, other government think tanks are also moving forward on developing industry standards for AI. The Artificial Intelligence Industry Alliance (AIIA), an industry alliance established by China’s regulators with about 200 members, is seeking to develop industry standards on assessment and certification industry systems for AI products and services. These standards will set out requirements and testing methods for AI hardware and AI platforms for services based on voice, language and images.

Interested stakeholders may wish to closely follow progress being made by CESI, AIIA, and other agencies.

Many thanks to Zhijing Yu and Runze Li for their contributions to this post.

Photo of Yan Luo Yan Luo

Yan Luo advises clients on a broad range of regulatory matters in connection with data privacy and cybersecurity, antitrust and competition, as well as international trade laws in the United States, EU, and China.

Yan has significant experience assisting multinational companies navigating the…

Yan Luo advises clients on a broad range of regulatory matters in connection with data privacy and cybersecurity, antitrust and competition, as well as international trade laws in the United States, EU, and China.

Yan has significant experience assisting multinational companies navigating the rapidly-evolving Chinese cybersecurity and data privacy rules. Her work includes high-stakes compliance advice on strategic issues such as data localization and cross border data transfer, as well as data protection advice in the context of strategic transactions. She also advises leading Chinese technology companies on global data governance issues and on compliance matters in major jurisdictions such as the European Union and the United States.

Yan regularly contributes to the development of data privacy and cybersecurity rules and standards in China. She chairs Covington’s membership in two working groups of China’s National Information Security Standardization Technical Committee (“TC260”), and serves as an expert in China’s standard-setting group for Artificial Intelligence and Ethics.

Photo of Ashwin Kaja Ashwin Kaja

With over a decade of experience in China, Ashwin Kaja helps multinational companies, governments, and other clients understand and navigate the complex legal and policy landscape in the country. He plays a leading role in Covington’s China international trade and public policy practices…

With over a decade of experience in China, Ashwin Kaja helps multinational companies, governments, and other clients understand and navigate the complex legal and policy landscape in the country. He plays a leading role in Covington’s China international trade and public policy practices and, outside of Covington, serves as the General Counsel of the American Chamber of Commerce in China.

Ashwin helps clients solve acute problems that arise in the course of doing business in China and position themselves for longer-term success in the country’s rapidly evolving legal and policy environment. He is an expert on Chinese industrial policy and has worked on matters related to a wide range of sectors including technology, financial services, life sciences, and the social sector. Ashwin has also counseled a range of clients on data privacy and cybersecurity-related matters.

As the General Counsel of the American Chamber of Commerce in China (AmCham China), Ashwin serves as a senior officer of the organization and as an ex officio member of its Board of Governors, supporting nearly one thousand member companies in developing their businesses in China and advocating for their needs with China’s central and local governments.