On 15 March 2021, the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) issued the Administrative Measures for Online Trading Supervision. The document, an important departmental rule formulated to fulfil the requirements of the E-Commerce Law of the People’s Republic of China, will start to be implemented on 1 May 2021 – replacing the Administrative Measures for Online Trading published in 2014 to regulate online trading, protect the legitimate rights and interests of online consumers, and promote the sustained and sound development of China’s digital economy.

The Measures consist of 5 chapters and 56 articles, outlining efforts to improve the governance system of the online trading market, by promoting diversified participation and standardised order. Specifically, the Measures stipulate clear provisions on five main issues:

  • Registration of network operators: Individuals engaged in cleaning, washing, sewing, hairdressing, house moving, duplication of keys, plumbing, furniture and home appliances repair, and other convenient services that do not require licensing, or whose annual turnover is not more than 100,000 CNY, are not required to register.
  • Supervision of new business forms: If network service providers of social networking and live broadcasting provide operators with online trading platform services such as commodity browsing, order generation and online payment, they shall perform the obligations of online trading platform operators in accordance with the law.
  • Responsibility of platform operators: Every six months, online platformsshall submit the identity information of the operators to the provincial market supervision department where they are located. The platforms shall establish an inspection and monitoring system for the business activities they host, and promptly handle and report on illegal activities.
  • Protection of consumers’ rights and interests: Operators shall not set tie-in commodities as consumers’ default consent, and shall not set the options selected by consumers in previous transactions as default choice. The operator of an automatic renewal service shall, five days before the renewal of the service, bring it to the attention of the consumer in an obvious way.
  • Protection of personal information: Network trading operators shall clearly state the purpose, methodsand scope of collecting and using consumers’ personal information, and obtain the consent of consumers. Consumers shall not be forced or disguised to agree to the collection and use of information not directly related to their business activities. Before collecting and using sensitive personal information, consent must be obtained from consumers on an item by item Without the authorized consent of the consumers, it personal information shall not be provided to any third parties.

In 2019, after the E-Commerce Law of the People’s Republic of China was officially implemented, the director of SAMR’s Department of Laws and Regulations made a public briefing on the scope of application of the law. Specifically, overseas legal persons or unincorporated organizations engaging in business activities through the services of domestic e-commerce platforms, shall equally be subject to the jurisdiction of the E-commerce Law, unless the overseas operators explicitly agree with Chinese platform operators to exclude the application of Chinese laws.

Foreign legal persons or unincorporated organizations that provide goods or services to Chinese consumers through self-established overseas websites, trading platforms and social media, shall be fully subject to the E-commerce Law if the language, payment methods, distribution and other transaction channels used are all clearly directed to consumers in China. As a result, overseas operators have to be pay close attention to the development of regulatory rules on the online trading in China to avoid unnecessary barriers.

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The original Chinese full text of the Administrative Measures for Online Trading Supervision is available at: