Xinhua highlights clauses in China’s new e-commerce law

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China’s legislative body passed the country’s first e-commerce law on August 31 to “protect legal rights of all parties” and “maintain the market order”, with a focus on consumers’ rights. Xinhua is publishing regular updates about the law with the latest about how e-commerce platforms can’t delete negative reviews on its products or it can face fines up to RMB 500,000.

The law differentiates different e-commerce operators such as merchants on e-commerce platforms and those who operate the business on their independent websites, from Taobao to people who sell products on the social network WeChat.

Although the law states it is set to protect legal rights of all parties, according to state media, Yin Zhongqing, a lawmaker, said at a press conference Friday that the law puts more emphasis on the obligations and responsibilities of the e-commerce platforms, who are more advantaged than consumers.

According to Xinhua, the law pays much attention to consumer’s privacy and rights to know. Merchants are required to clearly point out any clause or bundle they’ve imposed in the sale and cannot assume the consent of the consumers.

When substandard products are sold to consumers, not only the vendor but the platform should take responsibilities.

Fake reviews are also banned. This not only includes hiring people to post fake reviews but luring customers to leave positive comments with cash-back. The most common case is the customer service staff promise in private chat window to return you RMB 2 to 5 if you give a five-star rating on the products.

The draft e-commerce law was reviewed first in December 2016, deliberated in October 2017 and June 2018 by NPC Standing Committee. The law will take effect on Jan. 1, 2019.

China has the world’s largest e-commerce market. According to eMarketer, e-commerce sales in China are expected to surpass $1.1 billion, accounting for almost half of the global retail e-commerce sales.