China's First WCO-Accredited Customs-Inspection Expert

ByWang Shasha March 2, 2021
Wang Lei at work [For Women of China]


Wang Lei, with Guangzhou Customs District, has become China's first customs inspector to receive WCO (World Customs Organization) accreditation. She has been to Sri Lanka, and other countries, to provide training to local customs officials. "As Chinese customs is growing stronger, we have more confidence and opportunities to stand out in the world," she says.

After she graduated (in 2003) from Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, in Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong Province, Wang began working as a general staff member at the customs office in Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport. 

"It is a sacred job for me to be able to work at customs, as it is about guarding the gateway of our country," Wang says. She mastered professional knowledge and she improved her ability to observe passengers during her work at the airport. She had several notebooks, in which she recorded her work experiences and her thoughts about how to better carry out customs work.

Capable, Experienced

In 2011, Wang was transferred from the airport to the inspection department of Guangzhou Customs District. 

"Customs inspection is about examining the import and export activities of enterprises, in accordance with the law. Specifically, we examine the accounting books, customs-declaration documents and other relevant documents," Wang says.

"Inspecting is the core of our work. We collect effective information, among huge volumes of data and documents, and we grasp the key points and make accurate judgment within a limited period." 

Wang and her colleagues work in a careful and rigorous manner, and they also work in strict accordance with the laws, rules and regulations. Wang is good at finding clues in details and making assumptions when she conducts inspections. 

Wang Lei (R) at work [For Women of China]


"Customs inspection is also painstaking work," she adds. "Our work requires many field visits, and we often work overtime. Sometimes, when we conduct inspections at enterprises, some employees refuse to cooperate. On one hand, we have to talk to them and persuade them to cooperate. On the other hand, we must carry out our work quickly and accurately, to make sure we find what we need for our work." "Customs inspection is technical work. The import and export enterprises involve various industries. We need to be familiar with various kinds of commodities, trade processes and business rules. We also keep learning to enrich our knowledge and improve our capabilities," Wang says.

Wang says customs inspection is literally a "check-up" for enterprises. "We help enterprises find their problems and loopholes, to ensure the legality of the import and export activities, and to promote their benign development. That is how we contribute to promoting global trade." 

In recent years, Chinese customs has adopted an active-exposure mechanism. "If enterprises find problems through self-inspection and take the initiative to report to customs, they will be given light punishment or even be exempted from penalties," Wang explains.

"Customs inspection is an important part of customs follow-up supervision. Thanks to the severe crackdown on illegal enterprises, through customs inspection, a more impartial business environment can be established for law-abiding enterprises," she says.

On the World Stage

In 2017, the WCO decided to select international experts in customs inspection. The experts were expected to train customs inspectors in various countries, to help them improve their work capacity and their countries' inspection systems. 

Inspectors from 50 countries applied. However, only four inspectors passed the final round of selection. Wang was one of those inspectors; as a result, she became the first WCO-accredited inspection expert from China. "It is recognition of my overall capacity, and also our country's customs governance capacity," she says.

In November 2018, entrusted by WCO, Wang went to Sri Lanka to train local customs inspectors. It was the first time that a Chinese customs official served as the trainer of a WCO training course, in follow-up supervision field, in a foreign country. 

Forty-three senior or middle-level customs inspectors in Sri Lanka attended the course. "We have not only improved professional knowledge, but also gained a better understanding of China," one of the trainees said. 

Wang Lei (L) visits an enterprise. [For Women of China]


After the course had concluded, a farewell banquet was held on the top floor of the Sri Lankan customs building. As she looked out the window at the night view, Wang saw a port that was under construction. Chinese companies participated in the construction of the port. "Looking at the lights shining on the construction site, I felt proud to be Chinese," Wang recalls. 

"Becoming a WCO-accredited expert gives me a higher platform, and a wider vision. I feel lucky that I am a witness to the development of China's customs-inspection system, and that I have the opportunity to observe the development level of customs inspection in the world, from the perspective of globalization. It is the development and strength of our country that gives us the opportunity to go global," Wang says.

Wang Lei gives a lecture during a training course designed for Malaysian customs officials. [For Women of China]


Photos supplied by Guangzhou Customs and Youth Talks Studio

((Women of China English Monthly December 2020 issue))


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