NTCs and consumer protection in China

The global trend of open markets and consumerism have naturally conducted to different legal framework regarding consumer protection. When analyzing the provisions aimed at protecting consumers from a strictly legal point of view, the findings highlight there is a quite uniform tendency when it comes to identifying those contractual and economic relationships that make consumers more vulnerable. Goal of chapter 30 of China NTCs is understanding what impacts Non-Trade Concerns have on consumer protection in China. The author firstly analyzes the issues of consumerism and international trade and their relationship. China has progressively transformed its economy in order to attract foreign investment and foster economic growth. After the Chinese accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, the consumer market entered a new phase, with consequent new laws and regulations. As underlined by the author, the new framework to protect consumer interests can be linked to the country’s transition towards a socialist market economy. China has in this way created many remedies. On the one hand, there was the need to protect foreign consumers and, on the other hand, Chinese consumers against business strategies and contractual relationships with foreign companies. The author examines the technical aspects of consumer law, including the interplay between legal issues and economy. The concepts of international trade and consumerism are also compared and studied. While international trade is considered to be the internalization and liberalization of national economies, consumerism is defined as a social movement, which tries to increase the rights and power of the buyers in relation to the sellers. In his conclusions, the author stresses how Chinese legislation is fragmented, but there is the possibility of a future harmonization of the modalities for the identification and prosecution of those actors engaging in practices harmful to consumers. This issue refers to the case of Hong Kong where many registered companies operate in a way that harms consumers living in mainland China, exploiting the lack of effective communication between the agencies responsible for consumer protection in China and Hong Kong.