China says livestreaming sales must be in Mandarin and 43 apps rebuked

livestreaming apps
FILE PHOTO: A woman wearing a protective face mask uses a phone at a park in Wuhan, China, May 15, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song

BEIJING (Reuters) – Hosts in China’s livestreaming industry should speak Mandarin and dress appropriately when they market products online, the country’s commerce ministry said on Wednesday, as it looks to tighten its oversight of the sector.

Livestreaming marketing has seen its popularity surge in the last two years among brands like L’Oreal, Nike, Dyson and online shoppers, and most Chinese e-commerce platforms now offer the option to purchase and sell products via livestreaming.

It became the target of scrutiny last year with some shoppers and brands accusing some livestreamers of misrepresenting products or faking sales numbers, prompting China’s cyberspace regulator to announce draft rules in November.

China’s Ministry of Commerce on Wednesday published more detailed guidelines and for the first time mentioned a preferred language. Mandarin is the official medium in China but there are also many dialects and ethnic minority languages in the country.

“It is better to use Mandarin during livestreaming,” it said in a section about how livestreamers were expected to behave.

The new rules, which are up for public review until Sept. 2, also said livestreamers should dress in a way that is inoffensive to their audience, and carry an image reflecting the characteristics of the products or services they try to sell.

Meanwhile, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said on Wednesday that 43 apps, including Tencent Holdings Ltd’s WeChat, were found to have illegally transferred user data, and ordered their parent companies to make rectifications.

The move comes as Chinese authorities tighten regulatory oversight on a range of industries, with a particular emphasis on privacy and data.

In a statement published online, the regulator said the apps had illegally transferred users’ contact list and location data, while also harassing them with pop-up windows.

The list also included an e-reading app owned by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, as well as others managed by travel giant, and video streamer iQiyi.

MIIT stated that the apps will have until Aug. 25 to make rectifications, or else they will be punished in accordance with relevant laws and regulations.

Alibaba iQiyi and Tencent did not immediately respond to requests for comment. declined to comment.

The punishment comes during a year of ongoing regulatory scrutiny towards tech companies.

On Tuesday, China’s State Administration for Market Regulation published a set of draft rules aimed at improving fair competition, banning practices such as fake reviews and inflated public metrics.

(Reporting by Beijing Newsroom, Josh Horwitz and Brenda Goh in Shanghai, Yingzhi Yang in Beijing; Editing by Bernadette Baum, Jason Neely and Anil D’Silva)

Be the first to comment

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.