China mulls online shopping legislation

Updated: 2013-04-23 17:21


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BEIJING - With China's e-commerce market expanding at full speed, the country is for the first time considering amending its consumer rights law to protect online shoppers' rights and interests.

The widespread of information technology has allowed the Internet, TV and telephone-based commerce to surge, said Li Shishi, director of the Commission for Legislative Affairs of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, the country's top legislature.

While briefing national lawmakers during a three-day bimonthly legislative session that opened on Tuesday, Li said new shopping forms such as e-shopping differed from conventional consumption, as online shoppers cannot identify the goods' authenticity and are susceptible to deceptive advertisement.

"Consumers select commodities merely through pictures and text descriptions," he said.

The consumer rights law, which was enacted in 1993, does not have stipulations on the protection of consumer rights in online shopping.

"Consumption patterns, structure and concepts in China have undergone great changes over the past two decades," Li said, adding that amending the law aims to adapt to the new situation in protecting consumer rights.

To deal with inadequate commodities or service information in online shopping, the draft amendments stress the protection of consumers' right to knowledge, saying sellers should provide authentic and necessary details of their products or services to e-shoppers.

The draft also ensures e-shoppers' right of choice and grants them the right to unilaterally terminate contracts. "Consumers have the right to return goods within seven days and get refund," according to the proposal.

"Online shoppers can ask for compensation from the e-trade platform where transactions took place if the seller has stopped using the platform," the draft said, adding the platform can claim compensation from the seller after offering compensation to e-shoppers.