Legal protection for China´s consumers was long overdue, but a revision of the existing laws might change all for the country´s consumers, writes lawyer Mark Schaub in Lexology. All depends now on how those laws are being executed.
In short the Revision basically changes everything for consumers in China. As always, only time will tell as to how it is implemented but the intent is clear – consumers will be given greater protection.
There any many reasons that reform was due (or even overdue). The Revision which took effect on March 15, 2014 – fittingly the next World Consumer Rights Day – provides PRC consumers with better standards of protection. These amendments addressed the rapid emergence of online retail, tightened protection of consumers’ personal information, increased penalties for violations of consumer rights, established a consumers’ public interest litigation system and re-adjusted the burden of proof in consumer transactions.
Protection is Needed – Chinese consumers have legitimate concerns in respect of product safety and quality. The State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) itself has noted that RMB 3.8 billion worth of poor quality products were sold in China between 2010 and 2013. Consumers need protection from threats as varied as tainted food to exploding electronics. Also in the news in 2012 were serious breaches of citizen privacy.
Unfair Practices – the Chinese authorities have been very active in 2014 in relation to alleged anti-competitive practices by international and domestic companies alike. The actions were as varied as infant formula to spirits and from luxury cars to pharmaceuticals. In addition the Chinese media was very sensitive to cases where international companies allegedly applied a double standard to the Chinese consumer.
China Retail has Changed – China’s previous consumer laws were promulgated prior to the advent of e-commerce. As a result, the current legal framework does not address numerous consumer concerns related to online shopping. China’s rapid approach to being the world’s largest online market coupled with it often being at the vanguard of online shopping innovation means that this law was long overdue.
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