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China moves to regulate e-commerce

CHINA'S top legislature is deliberating a draft law that will regulate and facilitate booming e-commerce in the country.

The draft law was submitted for review by legislators at the bimonthly session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, which runs from Monday to Sunday.

It is the first reading of the draft by the top legislature.

Explaining the draft to lawmakers on Monday morning, Lyu Zushan, deputy director with the NPC's Financial and Economic Affairs Committee, said booming e-commerce in recent years had served to reveal loopholes in China's legal system and commercial rules.

The draft law will facilitate e-commerce growth, help maintain market order and protect consumer rights.

The draft law said the nation should put online and offline commercial activities on an equal footing and protect the safety of e-commerce transactions.

All e-commerce operators have an obligation to pay taxes and should acquire the necessary business certificates, under the draft.

Operators must also ensure personal information security for consumers. Those that fail will face fines of up to 500,000 yuan and could have their business certificates revoked.

They must also work to protect intellectual property, the draft said.

The draft requires third-party e-commerce platforms to offer technical support for "law enforcement activities by relevant authorities."

China is the world's largest e-commerce market.

According to Lyu, e-commerce trade amounted to over 20 trillion yuan (about US$2.87 trillion) in 2015, with online retail sales totaling 3.88 trillion yuan.

Last month, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba saw 120.7 billion yuan in gross merchandise volume during its 24-hour Singles' Day event, an annual online shopping spree on November 11.

In addition, the draft law said China will work to facilitate cross-border online shopping and push forward exchange and communication on cross-border e-commerce with different countries and regions.

The Ministry of Commerce predicted the volume of cross-border e-commerce in 2016 will reach 6.5 trillion yuan and will soon account for 20 percent of China's foreign trade.

"Promoting e-commerce is conducive to China's opening-up strategic layout and the optimization and upgrading of its foreign trade," Lyu said. "It is also conducive to building the Belt and Road Initiative and to implementation of the FTA (free trade area) strategy."

China will improve efficiency in customs clearance for cross-border online shopping. It will also take part in formulating international rules on cross-border e-commerce, and work to set up dispute settlement mechanisms with countries and regions involved, the draft said.


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