Harmonisation Trends in Chinese Accounting and Remaining Problems


Managerial Finance

2000, vol. 26, n°5, pp.31-40

Départements : Comptabilité et Contrôle de Gestion

The accounting reform in China offers an example of harmonisation efforts which result of an internal will and an external obligation as well. This article tries to make an overview of this reform, by showing its different facets and its actual situation. It focuses particularly on harmonisation progress made by this process and remaining peculiarities. Since this accounting reform is a gradual and difficult process, there exist naturally problems both in the fields of accounting regulation and practice.Like all politico-economic phenomena, accounting always adapts to its environment. The great accounting changes, which have been taking place in China since the economic reform begun in 1978, offer an example of harmonisation efforts which are the result of an internal will and an external obligation as well. This evolution can be explained by several reasons: change of public administration function, diversification of enterprise ownership forms and its operations, and economic opening to the outside. Firstly, the transfer from planned economy to market economy re-orients the role of the Chinese authorities in economy. From the direct controller of economy, they become indirect actor; from the enterprise's operator, they become one of the owners; from the only user of accounting information, they become one of many. But the process by which these changes have been realised has been a difficult and gradual one since December 1978. Secondly, this change is accompanied by a diversification of enterprise ownership forms and its operations. Besides state-owned and collective enterprises, there are also private enterprises, mixed-ownership enterprises and joint ventures. Thanks to a larger autonomy, enterprises diversify, cross-sector and multinational groups appear, and stock operations develop. The old accounting system, which was founded on the sectors and on the types of ownership, has given its place to a more harmonised form of accounting. Finally, the economic opening to the outside constitutes the third reason for the reform in Chinese accountancy. China is now the second destination of international investments after the United States, and ranks eleventh in import and export activities. She has also begun issuing stocks and bonds on the international market. These different flows impose on China the necessity of having a system of accountancy which is more comprehensible to the outside world.