Acronyms have been used for centuries, likely because our brains are inherently lazy and any opportunity to say a couple of letters vs words saves us mental energy and a few seconds of our time. They show up in a variety of contexts that range from casual text message lingo to define more formal terms like Government, private and public organizations as a means of simplification and to make terms more easily recognizable.
In this glossary, we’ve compiled some of the most common and frequently used China business acronyms that professionals engaged in business such as product sourcing or manufacturing in China might come across or would like to learn.
Love them or hate them, acronyms make recognition more simple. And if you’re a company doing business in China, this will be a resource you should find extremely helpful.
Let’s use Chinese New Year as an example. An easy and common way to say the acronym for this holiday is simply CNY. It’s the largest holiday in China that lasts several weeks and it rightfully deserves an acronym because it’s a huge event and commonly referenced event.
The problem with all acronyms is that they typically only make sense if the reader, listener, or speaker knows the meaning behind them. That’s why we created this glossary of China business acronyms to help address this need.
China Business Acronyms
Here are the most common business acronyms and their meanings that you’re likely to encounter in China:
Tip: If you’re looking for a specific acronym, word, term, or company name, try using the search function (CONTROL+F on Windows and COMMAND+F on Mac).
- ABC (Agricultural Bank of China): One of the six state-controlled commercial banks and ranked fourth by their tier 1 capital amount
- AEO (Authorized Economic Operator): A certificate issued by China Customs and held by companies in China that are engaged in import and export activities
- AIC (Administration for Industry and Commerce): A local branch that is usually in each province and major cities, that have business delegated to their local branch by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC), these AICs perform a variety of roles in governing industry and commerce within their jurisdiction
- AMS (Advanced Manifest System): An AMS filing that applies to shipping via China or to China (Hong Kong excepted) and applies to all cargo being imported and exported via China
- AQSIQ (General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine): In charge of national quality, metrology, entry-exit commodity inspection, entry-exit health quarantine, entry-exit animal and plant quarantine, import-export food safety, certification and accreditation, standardization, as well as administrative law enforcement
- BABA (Alibaba Group): Chinese technology company founded in 1999 that specializes in e-commerce, retail, internet, and technology. Best known for its online platform that allows B2B customers easily source, connect, purchase, and manufacture products from trading companies and manufacturers in China
- BAT (Baidu, Alibaba & Tencent): Three of the largest tech companies in China: Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent
- BOC (Bank of China): One of the six state-controlled commercial banks and ranked third by their tier 1 capital amount
- BoCOM (Bank of Communications): One of the six state-controlled commercial banks and ranked fifth by their tier 1 capital amount
- BRI or B&R (Belt and Road Initiative): Formerly known as One Belt One Road or OBOR, is China’s signature global infrastructure development strategy that invests in nearly 70 countries and organizations
- BSE (Beijing Stock Exchange): Founded in 2021, the newest and one of three stock exchanges operating within Mainland China, the others being SSE and SZSE
- CBIRC (China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission): An agency authorized by the State Council of China to regulate Mainland China’s banking and insurance sector
- CAC (Cyberspace Administration of China): The central internet regulator, censor, oversight, and active control agency for China, the CAC is involved in the formulation and implementation of policies on a variety of issues related to the Chinese Internet
- CCB (China Construction Bank): One of the six state-controlled commercial banks and ranked second by their tier 1 capital amount
- CCBA (China Customs Brokers Association): A national association that is under the leadership of the General Administration of Customs, for Chinese customs brokers
- CCAM (China Customs Advanced Manifest): An advanced manifest that must be submitted to China customs 24 hours prior to cargo loading on vessels that are sailing to/from China's mainland ports
- CCC (China Compulsory Certification): Introduced in 2002, a compulsory safety mark for many Chinese-manufactured and foreign-imported products that are sold or used in the Chinese market
- CCIC (China Certification & Inspection Group): A third-party certification and inspection organization dedicated to providing inspection, verification, certification, and testing services, with accreditation by AQSIQ, CNCA, and CNAS
- COSCO (China Ocean Shipping Company Limited): Commonly known by its abbreviated name, COSCO, is a state-owned Chinese shipping and logistics services supplier company and ranks among the largest in both the number of container vessels and aggregate container volume in the world
- CCPIT (China Council for the Promotion of International Trade): A national investment promotion and foreign trade agency, responsibilities include implementing major national development strategies, promoting foreign trade, and economic advancement associated with China’s united front strategy
- CFDA (China Food and Drug Administration): In charge and the authority of the safety management of food, drugs, medical services, health, and cosmetics within Mainland China
- CITIC (China International Trust Investment Corporation): State-owned investment company of China established in 1979. As of 2019, it is China’s largest state-run conglomerate with one of the largest pools of foreign assets in the world
- CIQ (China Inspection and Quarantine): Directly governed by AQSIQ, CIQ bureaus are established at each of China's ports and are responsible for the management of import and export commodities inspection areas
- CMB (China Merchants Bank): Founded in 1987, it is the first commercial bank wholly owned by corporate legal entities in China
- CMBC (China Minsheng Bank): Founded in 1996, it is the first bank in China to be owned mostly by private-sector enterprises
- CMCC (China Mobile Communications Corporation): The previous legal name for China Mobile Communications Group Co., Ltd, the parent company of China Mobile and the largest telecommunications services provider in China
- CMSA (China Maritime Safety Administration): A government agency that handles all matters related to maritime, shipping, and traffic safety, security, prevention of maritime pollution, inspection of ships and offshore facilities, navigational safety measures, marine accident investigation, etc.
- CNAS (China National Accreditation Service for Conformity Assessment): The national accreditation body in China that is solely responsible for the accreditation of laboratories, inspection bodies, and certification organizations
- CNCA - Certification and Accreditation Administration): Authorized to exercise administrative responsibilities of undertaking unified management, supervision, and overall coordination of certification and accreditation activities across China
- CNIPA (China National Intellectual Property Administration): Known as the Chinese patent office, responsible for the works on safety, confidentiality, public complaints, policy research, and carrying out work related to intellectual property
- CNNIC (China Internet Network Information Center): An administrative agency, founded in 1997, responsible for domain registry affairs of .cn level domains, under the Cyberspace Administration of China
- CNY (Chinese Yuan): CNY is the official currency code of China's currency, the Renminbi
- CNY (Chinese New Year): CNY is the official currency code of China's currency, the Renminbi. However, CNY is also used by many when referring to China’s most important traditional festival, Chinese New Year
- CPIC (China Pacific Insurance Company): The second largest property insurance company, after PICC. It provides integrated insurance services, such as life insurance, property insurance, and reinsurance, through its subsidiaries
- CQC (China Quality Certification Center): The largest professional certification body in China that offers a special CQC Mark Certification for a wide range of over 500 products that do not fall into the compulsory certification catalog (CCC)
- CR (China Railway): A state-owned enterprise that undertakes railway passenger and cargo transportation services in China and has over twenty primary subsidiary companies under them
- CRCT (China Railway Container Transport): A subsidiary company under China Railway that primarily focuses on container transport
- CRE (China Railway Express Co., Ltd): Leading company within China's domestic logistics industry with comprehensive rail, air, and road freight services
- CRH (China Railway High-speed): A comprehensive network of high-speed rail services and lines owned and operated by China Railway (CR)
- CRSCS (China Railway Special Cargo Service Company): A subsidiary company under China Railway that primarily focuses on transporting special cargo
- CSCEC (China State Construction Engineering Corporation): Is a state-owned construction company, that is the largest in the world by revenue and the 14th largest general contractor in terms of overseas sales, as of 2016
- CSCL (China Shipping Container Lines Co., Ltd): A Chinese Shipping company that is mainly engaged in container transport, shipping, and services both internationally and domestically
- CT (China Telecom): A state-owned Chinese telecommunication company with the largest fixed-line service, numerous subsidiary companies under them, and the third largest mobile telecommunications provider within China
- CTPO (China Patent & Trademark Office): An approved agency responsible for trademark registration and administration throughout the country, not to be confused with CNIPA, which is the actual Chinese patent office, responsible for the works on safety, confidentiality, public complaints, policy research, and other work related to intellectual property
- CUNIQ (China Unicom): A state-owned telecommunications operator, that currently provides a wide range of services including mobile network, local calling, long distance, data communication, internet services, and IP telephony
- CUP or UPI (China UnionPay): A Chinese state-owned financial services corporation that provides bank card services and major cards in mainland China and can be used in 180 countries and regions around the world
- ETDZ - Economic & Technological Development Zone): Special areas of China where foreign direct investment is encouraged. They are usually called ETDZs or simply "Development Zones"
- FIPE (Foreign Invested Partnership Enterprises China): A newly introduced unlimited liability business option for foreign investment in China that is becoming increasingly popular, as it doesn’t have any minimum registered capital requirements
- FTZ (Free Trade Zones): Types of special economic zones (SEZs) where goods may be imported, handled, manufactured, and exported without direct intervention from Customs
- GAC (General Administration of Customs): An administrative agency within the government of China, responsible for managing the import and export of goods and services into mainland China, collection of VAT, customs duties, excise duties, and other indirect taxes such as air passenger duty, climate change levy, insurance premium tax, landfill tax, and aggregates levy
- GB (National Standards of the People’s Republic of China): Coded as GB, these are the national standards issued by the Standardization Administration of China (SAC), GB standards are the basis for product testing on which products must undergo during the China Compulsory Certificate (CCC or 3C) certification
- GFCBW (Global Federation of Chinese Business Women): Registered organization for the Global Federation of Chinese Business Women
- GFW (The Great Firewall): The combination of legislative actions and technologies enforced by China to regulate the internet domestically
- GOC (Government of China): Government of China
- GOE (Government Owned Enterprise): A legal entity that undertakes commercial activities on behalf of an owner, the government
- HSR (High-Speed Rail): The world's longest high-speed railway network and most extensively used, with a total length of more than 40,000 km as of 2021
- HW (Huawei Technologies): A Chinese technology corporation headquartered in Shenzhen, China, that designs, manufactures, and sells telecommunications equipment, consumer electronics, and various smart devices internationally and in China
- ICBC (Industrial and Commercial Bank of China): One of the six state-controlled commercial banks and ranked first by their tier 1 capital amount
- JD (Jingdong Mall): One of China’s largest online retailers and one of the biggest internet companies, and a major competitor to Alibaba-run Tmall and Amazon
- JV (Joint Venture): A corporate structure available to foreign investors when a business is formed by one or more foreign investor(s), along with one or more Chinese entities
- LC/LOC (Letter of Credit): A letter from a buyer’s bank guaranteeing that the payment to the seller will be received on time and for the correct amount after certain conditions have been met, usually used when sourcing, purchasing, and manufacturing products from Chinese suppliers
- MI (Xiaomi): A privately owned Chinese designer and manufacturer of consumer electronics and related software, home appliances, and household items
- MIIT (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology): State-owned agency that handles regulation and development of the postal service, broadcasting, internet, wireless, communications, production of electronic and information goods, software industry, and the promotion of the national knowledge economy
- MOFCOM (Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China): An executive agency responsible for formulating policy on foreign trade, import and export regulations, consumer protection, foreign direct investments, market competition, and negotiating bilateral and multilateral trade agreements
- MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity): The minimum number of units that can be purchased, developed, or manufactured from a Chinese supplier
- NACAO (National Administration for Code Allocation to Organizations): An institution that provides newly established organizations with their OC Certificate, related to the National Organization Code system
- NEEQ (National Equities Exchange and Quotations): Beijing-based over-the-counter system for trading shares of public limited companies that are not listed on the Shanghai, Shenzhen or the recently formed Beijing stock exchange
- OC (Organization Code): The unique code that is issued to newly formed organizations in China by NACAO
- OBOR (One Belt One Road): Another name that was formerly used for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI/B&R)
- PBO, PBOC, or PBoC (People’s Bank of China): The central bank of China, responsible for carrying out monetary policy and regulation of financial institutions in China, as determined by People's Bank Law and Commercial Bank Law. It is a cabinet-level executive department of the State Council
- PICC (People’s Insurance Company of China): State-owned insurance company, that offers a range of life and non-life insurance products such as family property, travel, auto, health, personal credit loan guarantee, performance guarantee, etc.
- PRC (People’s Republic of China): The People's Republic of China, also known as China, P.R.C., and PRC
- PSBC (Postal Savings Bank of China): Commercial and retail state-owned bank, founded in 2007 and headquartered in Beijing, it provides basic financial services to individuals and businesses
- QA (Quality Assurance): Part of a quality management system focused on providing confidence that certain quality requirements will and/or have been fulfilled, usually when sourcing, purchasing, and manufacturing from suppliers in China
- QC (Quality Control): A procedure or set of procedures intended to ensure that a manufactured product or performed service adheres to a defined set of quality standards that meet the requirements of a client or customer
- RMB (Renminbi): Renminbi is the official name of China's currency and literally means "People's currency"
- SAC (Standardization Administration of China): The agency responsible for administrative responsibilities by undertaking unified management, supervision, and overall coordination of standardization work in China. The SAC also represents China within the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and other international and regional standardization organizations
- SAFE (State Administration of Foreign Exchange): An administrative body tasked with drafting rules and regulations that govern foreign exchange market activities and manage the state foreign-exchange reserves
- SAIC (State Administration for Industry and Commerce): Authority in China responsible for advancing legislation concerning the administration of industry and commerce within China. Recently, the SAIC was merged into the newly created State Administration for Market Regulation
- SAMR (State Administration for Market Regulation): Serves as a market regulator, in charge of market supervision and administration, and responsible for overseeing each of the regional AMSs
- SCIO (State Council Information Office): An administrative office of the Chinese government, the major function of the SCIO is to propel domestic media further along the path of introducing China to the international community, including China's domestic and foreign policies, the development of the Chinese economy and society, as well as China's history, technology, education, and culture
- SASAC (State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission): Responsible for managing (SOEs), including appointing executives, approving any mergers or sales of stock or assets, drafting laws related to state-owned enterprises, etc.
- SEZs (Special Economic Zones): Areas within a country that is subject to different economic regulations than other regions within the same country
- SF (SF Express): A Chinese delivery service and logistics company based in Shenzhen, that often is the fastest and most reliable for express shipments within China
- SGCC (State Grid Corporation of China): The SGCC, usually known as the State Grid, is a state-owned electric utility corporation, which is the largest utility company in the world, and as of 2020, the world's second-largest company overall by revenue
- SIPO (State Intellectual Property Office): A government institution managed by (SAMR), that was recently renamed to the China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) in 2018
- SOE (State Owned Enterprise): A legal entity that undertakes commercial activities on behalf of an owner, the government
- STA (State Taxation Administration): A ministerial-level department under the state council of China that is responsible for the collection of taxes and enforcing state revenue laws
- SSE (Shanghai Stock Exchange): One of three stock exchanges operating within Mainland China, the others being SSZE and BSE
- SSZE (Shenzhen Stock Exchange): One of three stock exchanges operating within Mainland China, the others being SSE and BSE.
- TB (Taobao): A Chinese website and mobile app giant that is headquartered in Hangzhou and owned by Alibaba, that is used for online shopping, similar to Amazon & eBay within China
- TT or T/T (Telegraphic Transfer): Another name or term used for an International Money Transfer, a standard international bank transaction, or a wire transfer
- USCC (Unified Social Credit Code): An 18-digit Chinese business registration number (sometimes including letters), unique for every Chinese company. It's mandatory for all enterprises and other organization types in Mainland China
- USCI (Unified Social Credit Identifier): Another name for the Unified Social Credit Code (USCC) and “unified” since it is used as the business registration number along with the SAMR and as the taxpayer identifier with the STA
- VIE (Variable Interest Entity): A VIE is a financial designation that requires businesses to consolidate financial statements for entities that are controlled through means other than equity ownership, VIEs are typically used in China to allow foreign investors to participate in industries that are restricted from foreign investment
- WB (Sina Weibo): One of China’s largest social media platforms and microblogging websites with over 450 million active users, owned by the Chinese technology company, Sina Corporation
- WFOE (Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprise): A limited liability company registered in Mainland China wholly owned by foreign investor(s)
- YHD (Yihaodian): Business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce website that was previously owned by Walmart that provides people with a platform to shop for groceries online
Understanding these and other commonly used business acronyms in China is valuable for conducting successful business operations and building effective communication in the Chinese market. By familiarizing yourself with these acronyms and abbreviations, you can stay ahead in the game and navigate the Chinese business landscape with ease.
Lastly, do you know a China business acronym that’s missing from our glossary and that deserves a spot on our list? Reach out to us and we’ll add it to our glossary of China business acronyms.