China is tightening application procedures for firms seeking to manufacture drugs, state media reported on Monday, following a rash of scandals over fake medicines and corruption in the industry.

The higher threshold to qualify for Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certification will take effect on January 1.

The new standards have strengthened supervision over weak links in quality control of drug manufacturers, Xinhua news agency quoted Bian Zhenjia, of the State Food and Drug Administration, as saying.

Before the revisions, manufacturers could get away with up to three severe defects in their drug-making process and still be certified. Now, no such defects would be tolerated.

Falsifying application documents would also qualify as a severe defect, the report said.

China has long struggled with the safety of food and drugs, but has come under increasing scrutiny internationally after exports of a series of products were found to be tainted.

Its food and drug watchdogs have also been plagued by graft, compounding the difficulty of cleaning up the sector.

In July, China executed Zheng Xiaoyu, former head of the national Food and Drug Administration, after he was found to have abused his approval power to obtain bribes and win illegal profits from drug companies.