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Hungry Now? Crackdown on China’s Food Delivery Apps Eleme and Meituan

China’s food delivery app market has been booming over the previous year. Apps like Eleme, Meituan and Baidu Takeout make ordering in a piece of cake. But China’s popular food apps are under scrutiny now that Chinese media exposed that these apps illegally sell food from unqualified vendors.

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China’s food delivery app market has been booming over the previous year. Apps like Eleme, Meituan and Baidu Takeout have made ordering food a piece of cake. But China’s popular food apps are under scrutiny now that Chinese media exposed that these apps illegally sell food from unqualified vendors.

Ordering food in China’s urban areas has never been so easy. Apps like Eleme (roughly meaning ‘Hungry Now?’) or Meituan make it possible to order virtually anything you want from restaurants and shops in the vicinity and have it delivered on your doorstep. The variety of choice depends on one’s location – there are more vendors to choose from within the app in city centers of, for example, Shanghai, Beijing or Tianjin, than the available options in their suburbs.

But once you’re in the right spot, there’s a ton of options. Due to the hyped market, there are competitive prices and vendors often offer deals and discounts to lure customers. Eleme and Meituan allow users to order anything from pizza to Mexican, from dim sum to sushi. Besides food, the apps also have options to buy beverages and alcohol, different kinds of medicine (including the morning after pill), face masks for smoggy days, or sex toys for hot nights.

Eleme and Meituan have now become the focus of scrutiny since CCTV’s annual consumer rights day TV show took aim at China’s food apps, as People’s Daily and Reuters report.

According to Chinese media, Eleme and Meituan are involved in illegal business by selling food from unlicensed restaurants.

Local restaurants can apply to sell their goods through these popular food apps. Especially now that cities like Beijing have been cracking down on street food, selling food door-to-door and being relatively ‘invisible’ to authorities is an appealing way to make money for many vendors.

After the CCTV programme aired on Tuesday, the food and drug administrations in Shanghai and Chengdu stated on Wednesday that they have launched investigations into Eleme, China Daily reports. CCTV reported on Weibo that Beijing authorities will also investigate different food order platforms in the capital. Meanwhile, Eleme’s vice president Guo Guangdong (郭光东) apologized to the public and vowed to take measures to rectify the situation.

cctv weibo eleme

But, as People’s Daily reports, Eleme users point out that vendors who have gone offline on the app are now offering their services under a different name.

This is not the first time apps like Eleme are targeted by Chinese media. In October last year, CCTV also reported that Meituan and Eleme facilitated illegal vendors to do business.

Meanwhile on Weibo, it is not the food quality or safety that worries netizens, but Eleme’s service. As one netizen called Black Mad Devil Tang Official writes:

Such a lousy app like Eleme shouldn’t be allowed to exist! The delivery guy was already halfway to bring me a salad and still it takes two hours with him calling me every other minute to ask for directions, are your delivery staff crawling their way to my house or what? He’s not only slow, but he first calls me to tell me he’ll be there in half an hour, and then five minutes later he calls me again to tell me it’ll take another 20 minutes, are your delivery guys like ticking time bombs?!

One commenter said: “Instead of ‘Hungry Now?’ they should change their name to ‘I’m Starving’.”

– By Manya Koetse

You might be also interested to read: China’s Top 10 Apps by What’s on Weibo (2015) 

Image: http://img2.iyiou.com/Cover/2015-10-29/gongsi-elemmeituan.jpg

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Sarita Gupta

    December 24, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    great blog….In today’s era people have reached to mobile phone and most of the restaurants are move themselves into online platform by publish android application to grab business from online platform. AppsBazar have a unique Restaurant Business Solution which will provide you an option to create your own app and move your restaurant at online platform.

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China Digital

Will Weibo Become 30% State-Media Owned?

Alibaba is allegedly ready to give up its Weibo shares to SMG.

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Bloomberg recently reported that Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is preparing to sell its 30% stake in social media platform Weibo. According to people familiar with the matter, Alibaba is negotiating with the state-owned Shanghai Media Group (SMG).

News about Alibaba planning to sell all of its Weibo shares has triggered some online discussions on the Chinese social media platform. Bloomberg was the first to report that the Chinese e-commerce and IT enterprise is talking to the state-owned Shanghai Media Group (SMG) to sell all of its 30% stake in Weibo.

According to Bloomberg, the move relates to regulators wanting to curb the influence of Chinese tech giants in the media sphere. The Bloomberg article claims that SMG, as one of China’s largest state-owned media and cultural conglomerates, stands a higher chance of gaining the approval of Chinese authorities than a private acquirer.

SMG is a large state-owned enterprise with over a dozen TV and radio stations, many newspapers and magazines, various drama & film production and distribution businesses, and more. The company has a major media influence, not only in Shanghai but throughout the country.

According to Weibo’s 2020 annual reports, New Wave held a 45% stake in Weibo, followed by Alibaba with its 30%. New Wave is the holding company by Weibo chairman Charles Chao.

“Weibo will change into another channel for SMG,” some Weibo users predict, with others also sharing their fear that Weibo would become more and more like a platform for official media (“微博现在越来越官方化”).

“This would be a big milestone in the crumbling of Alibaba’s media empire,” another commenter wrote. Some wonder if the developments have more to do with Weibo as a platform, or with Alibaba and its media influence.

In March of 2021, the Wall Street Journal already reported that the Chinese government asked the Alibaba Group to dispose of its media assets due to concerns over the company’s influence in the sensitive media sphere.

“When Alibaba exits and state-owned capital enters, Weibo is expected to magnificently transform into a ‘state-owned enterprise’,” another Weibo user wrote.

Although some commenters worry that Weibo will change for the worse and that there will be more censorship, others see a sunnier future for the social media platform: “It would be good for Weibo to be ‘state-owned’ so that it won’t be controlled by capital to influence public opinion anymore.”

Chinese tech site 36kr also reported about the issue on January 1st, but neither Weibo nor Alibaba or SGM have officially responded yet.

By Manya Koetse

With contributions by Miranda Barnes.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Celebs

China’s Livestreaming Queen Viya Goes Viral for Fraud and Fines, Ordered to Pay $210 Million

Viya, the Queen of Taobao, is under fire for tax evasion.

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Viya, one of China’s most well-known and successful live streamers, is trending today for allegedly committing tax fraud by deliberately providing false information and concealing personal income.

The ‘Taobao queen’ Viya (薇娅, real name Huang Wei 黄薇) reportedly committed tax fraud from 2019 to 2020, during which she evaded some 643 million yuan ($100 million) in taxes and also failed to pay an additional 60 million yuan ($9.4 million) in taxes.

The Hangzhou Tax Administration Office reportedly ordered Viya to pay an amount of over 1.3 billion yuan ($210 million) in taxes, late payment fees, and other fines. On Monday, a hashtag related to the issue had garnered over 600 million views on Weibo (#薇娅偷逃税被追缴并处罚款13.41亿元#).

Viya made headlines in English-language media earlier this year when she participated in a promotional event for Single’s Day on October 20th and managed to sell 20 billion yuan ($3.1 billion) in merchandise in just one live streaming session together with e-commerce superstar Lipstick King.

China has a booming livestreaming e-commerce market, and Viya is one of the top influencers to have joined the thriving online sales industry years ago. When the e-commerce platform Taobao started their Taobao Live initiative (mixing online sales with livestreams), Viya became one of their top sellers as millions of viewers starting joining her channel every single day (she livestreams daily at 7.30 pm).

With news about Viya’s tax fraud practices and enormous fines going viral on Chinese social media, many are attacking the top influencer, as her tax fraud case seems to be even bigger than that of Chinese actress Fan Bingbing (范冰冰).

Chinese actress Fan Bingbing went “missing” for months back in 2018 when she was at the center of a tax evasion scandal. The actress was ordered to pay taxes and fines worth hundreds of millions of yuan over tax evasion. The famous actress eventually paid approximately $128,5 million in taxes and fines, less than Viya was ordered to pay this month.

Like Fan Bingbing, Viya will also not be held criminally liable if the total amount is paid in time. This was the first time for the e-commerce star to be “administratively punished” for tax evasion.

Around 5pm on Monday, Viya posted a public apology on her Weibo account, saying she takes on full responsibility for the errors she made: “I was wrong, and I will bear all the consequences for my mistakes. I’m so sorry!”

It is not clear if she will still do her daily live stream later today and how this news will impact Viya’s future career.

Update: Vaya’s live stream was canceled.

Update 2: Vaya’s husband also issued an apology on Weibo.

Update 3: Taobao has suspended or ‘frozen’ (“冻结”) Vaya’s livestreaming channel. Her Taobao store is still online.

By Manya Koetse

With contributions by Miranda Barnes.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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