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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.

Manya Koetse

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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.

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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

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  1. Avatar

    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

Waves of Support for Huawei on Chinese Social Media following US Blacklisting

“My next phone will definitely be a Huawei.”

Manya Koetse

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The US blacklisting of Huawei has left many Huawei owners across the world shocked and wondering if they will need to stop using their phone. In China, however, social media users are seemingly less worried, cheering on Huawei as China’s ‘national pride.’

Huawei smartphone users will allegedly receive no future updates from Android now that Google has suspended Huawei’s access to its mobile Operating System, following orders issued by the US Trump administration, Reuters reported on Sunday.

The Chinese telecom giant was added to a trade blacklist earlier last week,as the China-US trade war reached another tipping point.

Huawei has been using Google’s operating system for over a decade. Huawei debuted its first Android smartphone in February of 2009.

Besides being cut off from the world’s best-selling operating system, some of the world’s leading chip designers and suppliers are also ceasing their dealings with Huawei until further notice.

The news left many Huawei users outside of China worried and panicked. On Twitter, Huawei users have been asking what to do with their new Huawei device, with some saying they want to switch brands as soon as possible.

On Chinese social media, however, many people discussing this news are vowing not to abandon Huawei in light of the recent developments. “I’ve always used Huawei, and will never change,” some said, with others even commenting: “I’m preparing to switch to a Huawei phone, I hope they can stand firm.”

Huawei responded to the recent developments on May 20th, saying that Huawei does not need to depend on American suppliers for their chips, nor for their Operating System (OS). Huawei has reportedly been working on its in-house ‘Hong Meng’ OS since 2012.

They also promised to continue providing security updates and after-sale services for its smartphones and tablets, The Guardian reports.

Perhaps surprisingly, the majority of Chinese online responses to the issue are rather positive at the time of writing. The larger part of comments on Weibo are not necessarily anti-American, nor pessimistic about Huawei’s future, but instead confident that Huawei will have no problems in overcoming the recent hurdles.

On Weibo, the hashtag “Huawei Doesn’t Need to Rely on America for its Microchips” (#华为芯片可以不依赖美国供应链#) had over 19 million views by Monday night. The hashtag “Huawei’s Self-Developed Operating System Hong Meng” (#华为自研操作系统鸿蒙#) also took off on Monday in response to the news that Huawei has been developing its own OS for years, in case it would no longer be able to depend on Google for the Android OS.

“What’s been happening with Huawei recently teaches us an important lesson,” one Weibo user (@叼着猫的小花鱼) wrote: “Sometimes, it’s essential to have a plan B!” The Chinese idiom ‘Jū ān sī wēi‘ (居安思危) is used by many, meaning “think of dangers in times of safety” or “be vigilant in peacetime.” The second character of the idiom, ān 安, is also the first in the Chinese term for ‘Android’ (安卓).

Many netizens commented that they are looking forward to the Huawei OS, and predict that one potential consequence of the China-US trade war will be that all Chinese smartphones might eventually switch to a Chinese Operating System and use made-in-China chips and electronics.

On China’s Douyin (Tiktok) platform, hundreds of people are sharing short videos of Huawei chief Ren Zhengfei (任正非) talking about Huawei as the world leader in 5G technology, with comment sections showing praise for the Huawei brand: “My next phone will definitely be a Huawei.”

“We [Chinese] are becoming more and more confident,” one of the 12,000+ comments on Douyin said.

Both on Weibo and Douyin, people express that Huawei is more than a brand to them, saying it is a “national pride.” The slogan “Go China! Go Huawei!” (“加油中国 加油华为”) is ubiquitous on social media.

“Some of my close friends are thinking of buying an iPhone, and I think it’s shameful,” one Douyin user wrote. “I will unconditionally support domestically produced products. Go Huawei!”, others wrote on Weibo.

For now, Huawei users will still have access to the Android version on their existing devices and will still be able to download app updates provided by Google.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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What Are Weibo’s “Super Topics”?

Explaining Weibo’s “Super Topics”

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What are Weibo’s “Super Topics” (超级话题) and what makes them different from normal hashtags?

Over the past year, Weibo’s so-called “Super Topics” (超级话题) have become more popular on the social media platform as online spaces for people to connect and share information.

Weibo’s “super topic” function has been around since 2016. The function allows Weibo users to create and join interest-based content community pages that are online groups separated from the main Weibo space. One could perhaps compare these Weibo Super Groups to ‘mega-threads’ or ‘subreddits’ on Reddit.

These are the most important things to know about Weibo’s Super Topics:

 

#1 A Super Topic is Not the Same as a Hashtag

Similar to Twitter, hashtags make it possible for Weibo users to tag a topic they are addressing in their post so that their content pops up whenever other people search for that hashtag.

Different from Twitter, Weibo hashtags also have their own page where the hashtag is displayed on top, displaying how many people have viewed the hashtag, how many comments the hashtag is tagged in, and allowing users to share the hashtag page with others.

A Super Topic goes beyond the hashtag. It basically is a community account where all sort of information is shared and organized. People can ‘follow’ (关注) a Super Topic and can also ‘sign in’ (签到).

On the main page of every Super Topic page, the main subject or purpose of the super topic is briefly explained, and the number of views, followers, and posts are displayed.

A super topic-page can be created by any Weibo user and can have up to three major hosts, and ten sub-hosts. The main host(s) can decide which content will be featured as essential, they can place sticky notes, and post links to suggested topics.

 

#2 A Super Topic Is a Way to Organize Content

Super Topic pages allow hosts to organize relevant content in the way they want. Besides the comment area, the page consists of multiple tabs.

A tab right underneath the main featured information on the page, for example, shows the “sticky posts” (置顶帖) that the host(s) of the page have placed there, linking to relevant information or trending hashtag pages. Below the sticky notes, all the posts posted in the Super Topic community are displayed.

One of the most important tabs within the Super Topic page is called “essential content” (精花), which only shows the content that is manually selected by the host(s). This is often where opinion pieces, articles, official news, or photos, etc. are collected and separated from all the other posts.

Another tab is the “Hall of Fame” (名人堂), which mainly functions as a reference page. It features links to the personal Weibo pages of the super topic page host(s), links to the Weibo pages of top contributors, and shows a list of the biggest fans of the Super Topic. Who the biggest fan of the page is, is decided by the number of consecutive days a person has “checked-in” on the page.

 

#3 Super Topics Are a Place for Fans to Gather

Although a Super Topic could basically be about anything, from cities to products or hobbies, Super Topics are often created for Chinese celebrities, video games, football clubs, or TV dramas.

Through Super Topic pages, a sense of community can be created. People can be ranked for being the most contributive or for checking in daily, and comment on each other’s posts, making it a home base for many fan clubs across China.

The host(s) can also help somebody’s page (e.g. a celebrity account) grow by proposing them to others within the group.

Super Groups are ranked on Weibo based on their popularity. This also gives fans more reason to stay active in the group, making their Super Topic top ranking within their specific category (TV drama, food, photography, sports, games, etc).

What makes the Super Topic group more ‘private’ than the common Weibo area, is that people posting within the Super Topic can decide whether or not they also want their comment shared on their own Weibo page or not. If they choose not to, their comments or posts will only be visible within the Super Topic community.

 

By Manya KoetseGabi Verberg, with contributions from Boyu Xiao

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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What’s on Weibo provides social, cultural & historical insights into an ever-changing China. What’s on Weibo sheds light on China’s digital media landscape and brings the story behind the hashtag. This independent news site is managed by sinologist Manya Koetse. Contact info@whatsonweibo.com. ©2014-2018

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