Export controls

General controls

What general controls are imposed on exports?

In July 2017, MOFCOM published the draft of the Export Control Law of People’s Republic of China to collect suggestions from society. There are some trends indicated in this draft: reunification of the previous related export control systems; clarifying the authority of the competent authorities and the authority of law enforcement; and increasing the punishments for violation of the law. However, the final version is still unpublished.

Under the current regime, the Registration Regulation of Foreign Trade Operators, which took effect on 1 July 2014, enterprises that are willing to export shall register themselves with the administrative offices. However, such registration is mainly for statistical purposes, and does not impose limitations or controls on exports.

Meanwhile, pursuant to article 16 of the Foreign Trade Law, the Chinese authorities are allowed to restrict or forbid relevant imports or exports based on the following purposes:

  • state security, social welfare or public morality;
  • protection of human health or security, the life or health of any animal or plant, or the environment;
  • the import or export administration of gold or silver;
  • conserving exhaustible natural resources that are in short supply or subject to effective protection;
  • limited market capacity of the destination country or region;
  • occurrence of severe disorder in export activities; and
  • other circumstances as provided for in those international treaties or agreements to which China has acceded.

Article 17 of the same law authorises the Chinese government to take necessary measures regarding fissile material or any materials used in the production thereof, as well as other military supplies such as weapons and ammunitions. China may take any necessary measures relating to export activities in wartime or for the purpose of maintaining worldwide peace and safety.

Government authorities

Which authorities handle the controls?

Multiple authorities are equipped to exercise export control when necessary.

For restricted goods, MOFCOM, specifically the Bureau of Industry, Security and Export Control (BJSEC), the Quota & Licence Administrative Bureau (QLAB) of MOFCOM, and the National Development and Reform Commission (en.ndrc.gov.cn) are in charge of determining the quantity of export limitation, and GAC shall enforce the restriction on export of these goods.

For forbidden goods, MOFCOM and GAC take charge of surveillance.

Additionally, the State Council (english.gov.cn) and the Ministry of National Defence (eng.mod.gov.cn) oversee the export of military materials; and the China Atomic Energy Authority (www.caea.gov.cn/n360680/index.html) is responsible for the restrictions on nuclear materials and related items.

Special controls

Are separate controls imposed on specific products? Is a licence required to export such products? Give details.

MOFCOM and GAC have recently revised the Managing List of Dual-Use Items and Technologies Importing and Exporting Approval, which came into effect on 1 January 2018.

Other regulations setting controls on specific products are listed as follows:


Issuing body

Products regulated

Licence required?

Nuclear Export Controlling Regulation

State Council

Nuclear material, equipment, items used for nuclear reactors, and relevant technologies


Dual-use Nuclear Product and Relevant Technologies Export Controlling Regulation

State Council

Dual-use Nuclear Equipment and Related Technologies (Listed by MOFCOM and China Atomic Energy Authority)


Dual-Use Biological Products and Related Equipment and Technologies Export Controlling Regulation

State Council

Dual-Use Biological Products and Related Equipment and Technologies (Listed by MOFCOM)


Guided Missiles and Related Items and Technologies Export Controlling Regulation

State Council

Guided Missiles and Related Items and Technologies (Listed by The State Council)


Chemical Products and Related Equipment and Technologies Export Controlling Regulation

State Council

Chemical Products and Related Equipment and Technologies (Listed by MOFCOM and GAC)


Supply chain security

Has your jurisdiction implemented the WCO’s SAFE Framework of Standards? Does it have an AEO programme or similar?

China signed the letter of intent regarding the SAFE Standards in 2005, and has since then been dedicated to enforcement of the WCO’s SAFE Framework of Standards.

Pursuant to Order No. 237 of GAC, the Regulation on PRC Custom Enterprise Credit Management took effect on 1 May 2018; meanwhile, the interim regulation pursuant to Order No. 225 of GAC was officially revoked.

Applicable countries

Where is information on countries subject to export controls listed?

No general list is available of the countries subject to export control by China.

MOFCOM, as well as other governmental agencies, may issue regulations (or orders) on export restriction or controls on some specific country to implement a UN sanctions resolution. Generally, the regulations (or orders) can be found on the websites of MOFCOM and GAC.

Named persons and institutions

Does your jurisdiction have a scheme restricting or banning exports to named persons and institutions abroad? Give details.

China has no restrictions on exports to named persons and institutions.


What are the possible penalties for violation of export controls?

Pursuant to article 82 of the revised Customs Law effected on 5 November 2017, transporting, carrying and posting goods and items whose import or export are forbidden or restricted to shall be deemed as a smuggling activity. For those activities that are not subject to criminal penalty, GAC may confiscate the goods, items and unjustified income, and confiscate or destroy the instruments used for smuggling.

For smuggling that does not constitute a crime, GAC shall confiscate the smuggled goods, articles and illegal gains and a fine may be imposed; smuggling that constitutes a crime would be subject to criminal penalties under the Criminal Law.

Pursuant to article 46 of the Regulations on Technology Import and Export Administration of the PRC, which took effect on 1 January 2012, where a technology whose import and export are prohibited or restricted is imported or exported without approval, the person concerned shall be prosecuted for criminal liability according to the provisions for the crimes of smuggling, illegal business operation or divulging national secrets or other crimes under the Criminal Law. Where such imports or exports are not so serious as to be prosecuted for criminal liability, a penalty shall be imposed according to the circumstances pursuant to the relevant provisions of the Customs Law, or the competent foreign trade department under the State Council may issue a warning, confiscate illegal income or impose a fine of from one to five times the illegal income. The competent foreign trade department under the State Council may revoke the foreign trade business licence.

According to article 151 of the Criminal Law, smuggling of prohibited products would be punished with fixed-term imprisonment of not more than five years or criminal detention, and fined separately or together; if the circumstances are serious, the sentence would be fixed-term imprisonment for more than five years and a fine.