On May 15, 2015, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (“MIIT”) released a latest Draft for Comments (“May 2015 Draft”) of the “Management Methods for the Restriction of the Use of Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Products” (“Methods”) (Draft for Comments in Chinese). The new Methods is designed to replace the existing regime, promulgated in 2006 and commonly referred to as “China RoHS.” The May 2015 Draft is now open for public comments until June 17, 2015. It makes several important proposed changes to the existing China RoHS regulation.

Since 2010, the Chinese government has attempted to push forward an updated RoHS regulation, and MIIT has released several draft revisions, but none have been enacted. The May 2015 Draft generally retains the requirements on both materials restrictions and information disclosure, but makes several important changes:

  • It aligns its scope with the EU RoHS 2. The new open scope of covered “Electrical and Electronic Products” (“EEP”) is not limited to “electronic information products” but would now extend to all electrical and electronic equipment (“EEE”) that meets voltage specifications. The definition is almost identical to that of EEE in the EU RoHS 2 Directive, except that it excludes “devices involved in electrical power production, transmission and distribution.”; 
  • The May 2015 Draft will remove the current “manufactured for export” scope exclusion;
  • The renamed “Compliance Management Catalogue” will likely, once issued in the future, include the hazardous-substance content limits (to date not yet imposed under China RoHS 1).
  • With respect to certification, the May 2015 Draft proposes a new, multi-agency, two-step system to replace the current program. Products on the “Compliance Management Catalogue” will first go through a “conformity assessment” process. After the conformity assessment, that assessment will be subject to a subsequent verification mechanism, which will be developed later by MIIT along with Finance and other ministries.

It remains unclear how the new conformity assessment and the following verification mechanism will operate in practice. The language implies that the MIIT may need to take further actions to specify the details of these programs;

  • The May 2015 Draft will remove the disclosure requirement for product packaging materials from the existing regulation.   

It remains to be seen whether this May 2015 Draft will be finalized as the new China RoHS 2 regulation and whether the above changes will remain in the enacted rules.  Parties that are interested in submitting comments on this Draft may do so via either of the two approaches listed here (in Chinese).