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Accounting Division under the Ministry of Finance Launched XBRL Handbook
2014-05-04 Author:费菲 Editor:无忧草 Views:

To further the spreading and promoting of the knowledge of Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL),China Secretariat of XBRL (Accounting Division under the Ministry of Finance)launched the XBRL handbook prepared to introduce XBRL-related knowledge,principles and applications,for your reference.


eXtensible Business Reporting language

-What you should know about

From reading our Basics,you can:

·Know about the fuss of the popular XBRL in the accounting industry

·Have a general knowledge about the application of XBRL

If you are a professional in the accounting or computing business,after proceeding to our Advanced section,you can know more about

·Principles of XBRL’s operation

·Relevant information about the application of XBRL



01.What is XBRL

02.Advantages of XBRL

04.Solutions XBRL provides

06.XBRL in China

08.Application of XBRL worldwide


10.Basic Principles of XBRL



15.Compliance Test

15.Inline XBRL


16.XBRL International

16.XBRL China


What is XBRL

XBRL,or eXtensible Business Reporting Language,is a new electronic format for financial reporting.It provides an alternative that amends the inefficiency that comes with converting and using traditional electronic financial reports.

XBRL is:

A language that uses specific vocabulary and grammars to word and structure

financial reports in a way computers are able to “read”and “understand”.

A format that is more suitable for financial reports and provides an incomparable alternative for saving and delivering financial reports to Microsoft Office Word,Excel,PDF and HTML formats.

A standard,a set of which XBRL is established upon,both technical and professional.XBRL realizes its advantages when XBRL and financial reports both abide to the standard.

Corporates can produce financial reports in XBRL formats through XBRL software or the XBRL module in finance software.

A language


A format

A standard

Advantages of XBRL

XBRL vs.Traditional Reports

Traditional financial reports are information written in words that are comprehensible for human brains;whereas XBRL like a Quick Response code can be “read”by computers.

Traditional financial reports are like vehicles,the type of the carrier varies with

different contents;whereas XBRL is built like trains that can be disassembled or extended to achieve multiple goals at the same time.

In pics:XBRL-Banks-Tax-Investors

Compared to traditional electronic financial reports,the most outstanding feature of XBRL is that files are produced by the computer based on working principles of accounting.


XBRL will disassemble the content of a financial report to elements of information (one element could be a figure or a clause),each of which could be extracted from the report for analysis.


XBRL does not only include information elements in its financial reports,but also depicts logics between elements,including articulation,hierarchical relations,orders of presentations in reporting and relations between tables.The computer can “understand”the content of the report based on these logical relations and then process intelligently.


The standardization of traditional file formats only takes to the technical level but has not touched the level of contents,say,an universal standard for professional language.XBRL,on the other hand,has achieved such standardization:it defines common elements in financial reporting (e.g.monetary capital)so as to compare information from different corporates and in various systems.


XBRL can provide extended definition to original contents according to your needs.The extending will of course not affect the original contents.This will affiliate personalized demands while ensure the common standards applied in financial reporting,in order to fulfill multiple requirements with one report.

Solutions XBRL provides

Duplicate entering

Many of us have come across this dilemma:we have found the report we want but not in the right format which,unfortunately,can not be converted.This left only one choice that is to enter the information again.The duplication will reduce efficiency and also is easy to make mistakes.

A XBRL format can be converted to any format automatically.XBRL will produce information in elements and arrange them in accordant with orders of presentation and hierarchies.Thus information can be rearranged in any other format with the help of converting software.

Duplicate reporting

Most corporates face a problem now is that they have to submit separate financial reports to departments like banks,taxation,security and audition.Though the contents are mostly similar,departments have their specific yet different requirements.To make things worse,these departments will also ask for different formats.Corporates in the end have to write multiple versions of reports.

XBRL can satisfy these various demands with just one report.As XBRL provides unified definitions for common information and specialized extended ones to meet various demands,this would enable XBRL to deliver all information with one set of reporting.Departments can extract information they need within the report XBRL produced,in order to take the burden off corporates’shoulders.

Auto-analysis of financial reports

As traditional financial reports do not include logic relations at professional levels;therefore,for computers,financial reports make no differences from other documents.Computers do not know which files are financial reports and,of course,will not process the contents according to professional logics of finances and accounting.This is when manpower has to be involved in the professional levels.

Based on professional logics in finances and accounting (relationships between elements)and definitions of common elements,computers with the supports of XBRL are able to analyze historical data of corporates and automatically process auto focusworldwide,which will save the input of manpower and enhance efficiency.

Cross-system information exchange

A common problem in the accounting business is that there is a barrier existed between information in different systems.For instance,data are stored in different systems where formats and definitions differ,as corporates normally do not have a unified system.Additionally,supervision divisions though possess financial information of a corporate,they can not share or compare this information due to they are often written in different formats or based on different definitions.The chaos in formats and definition all add up to costs on reporting for corporates and also create holes for supervision.

XBRL is a plain text file format that can be processed in any computer systems.Meanwhile,as XBRL has achieved standardization at professional levels,computer systems can process information in a XBRL file on the foundation of a unified definition and logics,which will avoid misinterpretations of data.Therefore,XBRL can work as a bridge that connects systems to affiliate their information exchange.It could improve communication and information sharing inside companies.

XBRL,in conclusion,can reduce costs on production and use of accounting information,advance efficiency on data processing,explore in-depth use of information and improve the level of supervision in the society.

XBRL in China

The development of XBRL went through two phases:the use of securities regulatory departments and a more general purpose of taxonomy of standards.

The use in security regulation departments

In May 2002,China’s Securities Regulatory Commission chose XBRL as the standard format for releases in electronic version for listed companies.

Shanghai Stock Exchange in 2004trialed in 50listed companies in Shanghai to submit their abstracts for 2003annual reports in the XBRL format.Shanghai has required listed companies there to adopt XBRL format in quarter,interim and annual reports,both in full texts and abstracts.The public can look up full reports through SSE’s website ( )and make horizontal analysis among financial data in different companies from the same industry.

As such,all companies listed in Shenzhen stock market have realized to use XBRL to produce annual financial reports since January 2005.Shenzhen Stock Exchange also made a “XBRL Information Platform of Listed Companies”to provide downloads for reports of their listed companies at a fixed interval,horizontal and vertical comparison of financial data and files of case studies of some companies.

China’s Securities Regulatory Commission has also launched a program for funds to lease their information in XBRL format on January 2008.So far,all funds from funds management companies have adopted XBRL formats in their daily,quarterly,interim and annual reports on net values.The commission also built a website for the release of funds information ( XBRL formats.

The Execution of General Purpose of Taxonomy

The Ministry of Finance together with Banking Regulatory Commission,Securities Regulatory Commission,Insurance Regulatory Commission,State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission,National Audit Office,People’s Bank of China and State Administration of Tax established an accounting informatization commission and organization for XBRL in China on November 2008,which unveils a new phase for the use of XBRL and collaboration between institutions.XBRL China has opened its official website at ( promote the use of XBRL and tell the world about XBRL’s development and latest results in China.

The ministry released a general purpose of taxonomy of accounting standards (as of information for common elements and unified definitions of logics between elements,please refer to our Advanced section).China’s standardization administration at the same time published a set of national standards for the operation of XBRL that is written with the lead of the Ministry of Finance.These two documents have symbolized the unified structure and regulations in China for XBRL.

Starting from 2011,the Ministry of Finance then started the execution of the taxonomy of standards.Companies involved in the standards are required to hand in their annual financial reports in XBRL format to the authority.The standards have covered 18banks (including those listed),13SOEs,5insurance companies,and 169large firms in 34provinces,autonomous regions and cities in China.

The 13SOEs include:

10that apply to the general taxonomy of standards:

And 3that apply to the extended taxonomy in oil and gas industries of standards:

5insurance companies:


The proportion of capitals in banks that apply to XBRL in China’s banking industry



Other supervision departments have also kicked off their use of taxonomy standards.Banking Regulatory Commission published the banking taxonomy standards on December 2011.The State-owned Assets Supervision has also launched the drafting of taxonomy standards for financial supervision in SOEs.The writing of taxonomy standards marks the start of coordinated application among China’s governmental departments of XBRL.

Application of XBRL worldwide

With a relatively short history of less than two decades,XBRL has been widely used around the world since 1998.Governmental supervision departments,commercial institutions and some international organizations have launched various programs relating XBRL.XBRL will undoubtedly be the new international standard for electronic financial reports in the future.

International application of XBRL

• Standard Business Reporting Program in the Netherlands (SBR)

This program is jointly launched by the Ministry of Finance,Ministry of Security and Justice,Ministry of General Affairs and Ministry of Economic Affairs,Agriculture and Innovation.

Before this program,corporates had to submit multiple versions of reports to departments with different contents and departments worked independently to evaluate and examine the report.

With the help of this program,corporates will only hand in one report in XBRL format.Departments then can acquire data they need from this report automatically.

On one hand,Dutch corporates have relieved the previous 30to 40reports and reduced their reporting elements from 200,000to 4,500.

On the other hand,departments are able to coordinate strengthen their collaboration -when any department detected a dangerous signal,others will also be notified.Consequently,corporates will be more prudent to financial reporting.

It is estimated that SBR has saved the Netherlands an approximately 350million euros in processing data and information on a yearly basis.

SBR has become the only one legal format for income tax declaration of both corporates and individuals since January 1,2013.Added-value taxes are also required in XBRL format starting from 2014.Other forms including taxation and annual budgets submitted to the Dutch Bureau of Statistics will use XBRL format in 2015.

• XBRL program in Singapore’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA)

ACRA is Singapore’s business registration authority.It requires that,from November,2007,both public offering and non-public offering companies should submit reports dated from April 30,2007in XBRL formats.

ACRA also launched a service from January 2010for a thorough usage of XBRL financial reports,that anyone can check and analyze XBRL financial reports from Singaporean companies with internet software Open Analytics.With this service,corporates are able to compare their performance with their counterparts and seek improvements.Banks can access to the company’s financial information to conduct credit rist assessments.Investors can sig for profitable potentials.Analysts also can monitor and analyze performance of any company or industry.

ACRA also plans to provide free data analysis service every time corporates submit full XBRL financial reports,in order to deepen corporates’understanding of the system and realize its importance in business decision making.The service will demonstrate to the management their previous performance and analyze future trends.Comparison with their counterparts in the same industry and other industries will also be available based on interactive forms.ACRA are actively communicating with private sector for more analysis services on XBRL reports.

• Taxonomy program of the Committee of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS)

In the context of XBRL’s globalization,the International Accounting Standards Committee Foundation (IASCF)has started the drafting of IFRS since 2002and formed a XBRL team in 2005,in a bid to promote a global use of IFRS.

The first draft of taxonomy for international financial reporting was released on November 2002for collecting opinions.Based on the bound version of 2002international financial reporting,IASCF published the 2008IFRS taxonomy on March 1,2008.IASCF also established a coordinated working model for writing and publishing the taxonomy:every year after the new IFRS is published,the XBRL team will start to work on the writing of the taxonomy for the next year.When the bound file of the new IFRS is published the next year,taxonomy that goes with it will then be released as well.

The IFRS taxonomy is widely used in countries that adopt IFRS,including Singapore,Denmark,South Korea,Japan,Israel,Australia,the Netherlands,Chile,South Africa,Spain,UK and Saudi Arabia.More countries are now thinking of adopting XBRL and IFRS taxonomy.

Other influential institutions that adopts XBRL:

• Electronic Data Gathering,Analysis,and Retrieval System (EDGAR)of the U.S.Securities and Exchange Commission

• Central Data Repository (CDR)of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC)

• The Australian Standard Business Reporting

• The Electronic Disclosure for Investors’NETwork (EFINET)of Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA).

• Corporates’compulsory online declaration and online payment of the UK’s HM Revenues and Customs (HMRC)

• The Eurofiling program of European Banking Authority


Basic Principles of XBRL

XBRL is built on the basis of eXtensible Markup Language (XML)which marks elements in plain texts and standard formats.

<organization nature= “governmental institution”>

<name>The Ministry of Finance, People’s Republic of China</name>

<address>3 Henansanxiang, Sanlihe, Xicheng District, Beijing</address>






This part of XML code clearly states information of the Ministry of Finance and the logic relations between elements.The computer,for instance,is able to know that <code> and <number> are both subordinated to <tel>.

All information processing systems (including PC and mobile devices)are able to open and process files written in plain texts.Therefore,XBRL can be used in diverse information processing platforms to exchange information across platforms.


XBRL uses the grammar of XML to mark information elements and logic relations between elements with “arcs”.This unified language and grammars of presentation and marking will enable XBRL applications to understand and process.

Specifications are standards that stipulate the use of words and grammars.XBRL regulations are written by XBRL International,aiming at the unification of language and grammars worldwide and the universal use of XBRL.The national specification of XBRL in China is written based on XBRL International’s standards.


At professional levels,every XBRL application has a set of standard definitions for professional concepts,including elements embedded in the reporting,the nature of the element (e.g.debit balances or credit balances,instant or duration)and relations between elements (e.g.articulation).This set of definitions is standards at professional levels (a data dictionary)which we call taxonomy.

Taxonomy is a set of XML files consisting of Schema (defining elements and their natures)and Linkbase files (depicting relations between elements).Linkbase files include:

Definition Linkbase describes the defining relations between elements.For example,of those comprising a table,which ones are lines,which are rows and which are subordinated to another.

Calculation Linkbase describes numerical relations between elements which would facilitate the computer to detect mistakes.

Presentation Linkbase describes sequence and hierarchy of presentation of elements in financial reporting.

Label Linkbase describes names (labels)of elements adopted in different circumstances.For instance,the element “construction in progress”respectively has a Chinese and English name in reports in both languages,while is called “opening balance”or “closing balance”in Statements of Changes,or “total”in Statements for Construction Details.This then requires different labels.

Reference Linkbase describes specifications that disclosed elements rely on,for users to better understand the report.

XBRL’s “eXtensible”refers to the extensibility of taxonomy.In one application system,universal information is defined in basic taxonomy whereas localized or specialized information has an extended definition based on the general taxonomy.The extension will cite basic taxonomy and define elements and relations that are not covered in the basic taxonomy.The extended taxonomy can be further extended to satisfy more special reporting demands.

The general taxonomy published by the Ministry of Finance in October 2010is the basic taxonomy in China’s XBRL application system.On the foundation of the disclosure requirements for financial reporting in China’s corporates accounting standards,it defines universal elements generally used in financial reporting of companies.The ministry also has released extended taxonomy for gas,banking and other industries,based on the basic taxonomy,to fulfill special disclosure requirements of different industries.

XBRL’s taxonomy


Elements in Schema files

Instance documents

Instances documents are XML files comprising actual data in financial reporting.Data in documents each have corresponding elements that are defined by schema files in taxonomies (one element might have multiple data limey opening and closing balance;or some elements may not have actual data like the name of a table.Also with other various reasons,elements are data do not necessarily have a one-to-one correspondence).An instance together with its group of taxonomies is a full XBRL financial report.

Hence,XBRL financial reports do not only contain data but also description of data (root data).That is what enables computer to intelligently process XBRL reports.

XBRL’s technical hierarchy

Specification-general taxonomy-extended taxonomy-instance

Examples in codes

The following examples from taxonomies and instances will help you better understand principles of XBRL.

• Schema files

The two paragraphs of codes on the right tell the computer that there are two elements in the report “other income”and “fixed assets”and their properties are:

1. Both are of monetary item type and therefore,are amounts in figures (if presented in characters,they will be written in words like the name of suppliers.There are also many other element types).

2. Other income is an amount in a duration while fixed assets happen in an instant.

3. Other income refers to the credit balance,and fixed assets as debit balance.

In this example,element,monetaryItemType,duration,instant,credit and debit are all standard vocabulary of XBRL.The same structure both paragraph use is XBR:’s standard grammar.With standardization on language and grammar,the universal use of XBRL is guaranteed comprehensible worldwide.

• Linkbase

Take Presentation Linkbase as an example,codes on the right define an arc of presentation (presentationArc)(“arc”refers to relations.As shown on the right,people normally use a arc-shaped arrow to show relationships)The direction of the arc points from assets to current assets.The type of the arc is parent-child.The codes have obviously shown the same relation as the picture below.

• Instance

The four paragraphs on the right corresponding with the above example in Schema files demonstrate amounts of elements “other income”and “fixed assets”in financial reports.They give two numbers of duration for other income in 2007and 2008,667,751.00and 1,056,647.00,respectively.As for fixed assets,instants in 2007and 2008are 441,098,286.00and 411,689,805.00,respectively.

Apart from the numbers,codes will also tell computer their units and decimals,as the unit (unitRef)is Chinese currency Renminbi (CNY)and the decimals (decimals)are 2digits after the point.

What we do need to point out is that the above interpretations of codes are for readers to better understand XBRL.In real applications,the producing and analyzing of the codes are conducted by softwares.Normal users will not deal with codes in writing and using XBRL financial reports,but operate at an intelligent interface close to professional concepts.The intelligent interface for users is also improving with the increasing use of XBRL.

China Accounting Standards (CAS)General Purpose Taxonomy

As CAS Taxonomy has corresponded with IFRS written by IASB,China’s general purpose taxonomy is an extension based on IFRS taxonomy and at the same time use the formula technology.

• Direct use of key elements in IFRS

The general taxonomy cites schema files of IFRS.As of concepts (elements)that have been defined in the IFRS taxonomy and correspond with Chinese accounting standards ,the general purpose will directly use the definitions.

• Standards by items

The organization of files of the general purpose will adopt standards by items -every standard will be assigned with one file.Definition linkbase,calculation linkbase,presentation link base and label linkbase will all be placed under corresponding files.The method will strengthen the uniformity between China’s accounting standards and the general purpose of taxonomy,which will facilitate the producing and development of taxonomies as well as accountants to understand and apply.

• Dimension to define of tables

XBRL provides two technologies for the definition of tables -tuple and dimension.Dimension is comparatively new to tuple.Under dimension,same tables of different corporates can share one definition in basic taxonomies,which has better comparability.Therefore,the dimension technology is widely used globally.Some projects also transfer from tuple to dimension after the latter is released.The general purpose will likewise use the dimension technology as IFRS taxonomies.

• The structure of the general purpose of the taxonomy

The general purpose of taxonomy is an electronic file package which is consist of files of 4hierarchies.Its structure is show as follows:

Elements of International Financial Reporting Standards

Elements of Accounting Standards

Extended purpose of taxonomies

General entrance

Standard linkbase of the general purpose

Example:Rood directory -files -documents


• Compliance test

The Compliance test of XBRL is run to examine whether XBRL applications are up to the standards of XBRL technology.

The basic testing method is to enter XBRL codes and,after processed by the software,the result given will be compared to the technology standards.When the result corresponds with the standards,then the test is passed;otherwise,it is failed.There are also two types of tests:one is to test codes entered are up to the standards,the result of which will be “affirmative”or “negative”.The other is to process codes according to directions and the results will be codes processed.

Every standard of XBRL International has a testing package that includes codes and estimated results.The package can run a thorough test to XBRL applications.

The Ministry of Finance and China’s Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA)have established a testing system for XBRL software on November 2013.XBRL software will be tested by a different institution to see whether they apply to national standards.Both authorities also encourage corporate to use products that have passed that test.

• Inline XBRL

Inline XBRL (iXBRL)is a new technology of XBRL that integrated websites.XBRL International has published relevant standards for the new comer.The new technology focuses on improvements to XBRL instance,that has included HTML as to people can read XBRL reports with an internet browser.The public,thanks to it,can also access and use XBRL financial reports without professional softwares.

iXBRL has combined XBRL reports with traditional reports.We can see great potentials in it.The technology has been used in tax declarations in UK’s HMRC.


XBRL GL (Global Ledger)is a set of taxonomies made by XBRL International.Unlike other taxonomies,XBRL GL put its focuses inside a company that describe financial information like receipts and lodgers an non-financial information.It is the taxonomy that corporates would like to use for accounting,financial management and other areas.

With the help of XBRL GL,corporates are able to keep a clear and detailed track of their data.An unified format can to applied to every layer of data,from basic receipts to the final draft of financial reports.It will also facilitate in-depth analysis of reports.XBRL GL can also serve as an agent for information exchanges inside the company (an dictionary of information),so as to resolve communication between departments.

• XBRL International

Founded in April 2000,XBRL International is a non-profitable organization that is compromise d of over 600multinational companies,associations and governmental institutions.The organization aims to promote the global use of XBRL with a keen focus on the writing of universal standards for XBRL technologies.

International meetings will be held twice or three times every year,in order to promote and communicate the latest results of XBRL application and discuss the future of XBRL.It is one of the most important event of XBRL.The 21st XBRL International Conference was held in Beijing in October 2010,hosted by the Ministry of Finance and XBRL China,jointly.

Board of Directors (BOD)of XBRL International is elected by representative of members of the organization.Standards Board (XSB)and Best Practices Board (BPB)are subordinated to BOD,where several work teams are set up for specific projects like the writing of standards and certificates of taxonomies.XBRL International welcomes institutions,organizations and staff members from the world to become part of it.For more information of XBRL International,please visit its website ().

• XBRL in China

XBRL China is a non-profitable and open communication platform for the promotion and application of XBRL.The organization is established in November 2008by the Ministry of Finance,together with together with Banking Regulatory Commission,Securities Regulatory Commission,Insurance Regulatory Commission,State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission,National Audit Office,People’s Bank of China and State Administration of Tax.XBRL China became a member of XBRL International in April 2010.

The structure of the organization includes a directing committee,a consulting committee,a execution committee and a secretariat that locates in the Accounting Department of the Ministry of Finance (MOF).

XBRL China has been an active participant in international events of XBRL International,to build a communication platform for China and the world.Xi Yingwei,the Deputy Director of the Accounting Department of MOF and the President of the execution committee of XBRL China is elected as a member of BOD in XBRL International and run for several terms in the BOD.

In October 2010,XBRL China took advantages of hosting the 21st International Conference of XBRL and held press conferences for the release of the General Purpose of Taxonomy and the National Technological Standards of XBRL.Consequently,XBRL China has increased its importance and say in the international organization.

For further development,XBRL China welcomes professionals and experts in the industry to join our committees and work teams.Applications can be submitted on our website.

For more information about XBRL,please visit XBRL China’s website:




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