A regulation, introduced to govern express deliveries, will help promote the healthy development of the industry and better protect personal information.
After five years of deliberations, the temporary regulation governing the industry will take effect on May 1, becoming the first nationally-binding regulation in the field.
Express delivery helps connect internet-related businesses as China is promoting the integration of the internet with traditional sectors such as manufacturing.
A draft of the regulation was discussed at a State Council executive meeting in July and then was approved at another meeting two months ago after nearly half a year of soliciting suggestions from the public and express delivery companies.
Under clearly-defined rules, service providers should standardize their operations from when deliverymen collect, transport, convey and deliver items. Meanwhile, private information must be stringently protected, as no information apart from names, addresses and phone numbers should be required, according to the regulation. Violators will be punished.
Express deliveries, an emerging sector, can bring convenience, reduce logistics costs and boost consumption, said Premier Li Keqiang at a State Council executive meeting in July. The Premier said a more vigorous delivery industry would mean stronger market vitality with lower costs, and this would be beneficial to economic growth.
Last year, more than 40 billion express items were delivered, 33 times that seen in 2007, according to figures by the State Post Bureau. The industry earned revenue of nearly 500 billion yuan ($79.4 billion) last year, 14.5 times that of 10 years ago, it said.
China contributed more than half of the world’s growth in express delivery items, exceeding developed economies such as the United States, Japan and Europe, said Ma Junsheng, head of the State Post Bureau.
Zhang Jie, a 36-year-old saleswoman in Beijing, said she made purchases online last year valued about 110,000 yuan, ranging from electronics, vegetables, and fruit to seafood.
“Efficiency and private information safety have been my top concerns. I really care about how fast my orders can be delivered, but at the same time I don’t want my personal information to be illegally disclosed,” Zhang said. “To protect the information, there should be a regulation or law to control express delivery businesses.”
Wang Wei, chairman of the listed SF Express, said China’s express delivery sector is still facing unbalanced and insufficient development.
“The introduction of this regulation shows the importance of express delivery, and it is being recognized by the government and society. We believe it will secure the transformation of express delivery to a higher-quality development,” he said.
The regulation provides a solid foundation for standardized operations for the industry because it has more authority than local regulations and clearly defines liabilities for service providers, said Wang.
Business license registration will be prioritized and this will streamline operations for service providers and unleash market vitality, the chairman said.
Safety is the bottom line for the industry in terms of national security and the public. Wang said the regulation listed further detailed rules for collection, security checks and service provider operations.
To ease consumers’ worries, rules are listed in the regulation to solve the problems in “the crucial last kilometer” such as difficulty in parking and delivering to addressees, Ma said. The regulation encourages companies, public institutions and communities to sign contracts with express delivery services to set up specific places for package delivery, he said.
The regulation also supports express delivery operators in cross-border business by establishing disposal centers in key ports in addition to overseas branches to work with Chinese customs authorities.
Wang said the regulation will boost the development of express delivery due to the increasing support set in the regulation to make the business easier.