BEIJING, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) -- Forty-four Chinese auction houses were honored Tuesday as Standardized Enterprise of Chinese Antiques and Artworks Auction for their good management and law-abiding practice.
The list of distinction was unveiled at a time when the country moves to regulate the sprawling sector amid a slump this year and insiders call for improving the overall quality of the sector and building auctions houses with high credibility and fame.
The honored companies, including the country's largest players like China Guardian Auctions Co., Ltd. and Poly International Auction Co., Ltd., were selected by the China Association of Auctioneers (CAA) from 74 applicants out of a total of 309 registered antiques and artworks auction houses.
"The appraisal activity will help set up a high-standard industrial norm for the country's auction business and improve the overall quality of the sector," said Li Weidong, secretary-general of the CAA.
"It will also help lift the credibility of the industry, which has dwindled this year amid the economic slowdown and faltering market confidence," Li told an association ceremony in Beijing.
CAA kicked off the appraisal procedure in September last year, assessing auction houses with 114 standards ranging from foreground auction operations to background management.
"It is an innovative attempt in the auction sector, which is of particular significance against a backdrop of lacking credibility," said Zhang Zhongyi, deputy secretary-general of the China Association of Collectors.
Zhang Yanhua, president of the CAA, said the standardized companies were chosen not based on their scales of business but instead their management in every aspect and their compliance with the country's auction rules and regulations.
Zhang noted that although the number of standardized auction houses is relatively small in comparison with the country's total, they however represent the majority of the industry.
Figures from the CAA show that auction turnover from the 44 companies in 2011 totaled 39.76 billion yuan (6.3 billion U.S. dollars), representing a market share of nearly 72 percent.
"The mainstream of the auction market is healthy and in compliance with the industry norm," Zhang said.
"But still we need to improve the overall quality of the sector rather than its scale to help build century-old auctions houses with high credibility and fame," she added.
China's antiques and artworks auction industry resumed operations in 1992 and the country is believed to have become the world's largest fine art market, accounting for about 40 percent of global sales.
However, the auction market for antiques and artworks dwindled during the year's spring auction season, mainly due to a slowdown in the world economy.
In the first half of the year, auction turnover from antiques and artworks slumped 34 percent from the same period last year to 28.16 billion yuan, according to statistics from the Art Market Monitor of Artron.
Industry insiders expect the market to further shrink during the autumn season as market confidence remains low.