- Meituan required to improve delivery driver treatment
- Government will continue tech sector crackdown
- CATL unveils new sodium-ion battery
- Chipmakers lacking 600,000 specialists
- Births: now with child benefit
- IfW economists: decoupling from China is an expensive endeavor
- Ukraine caves in under Xinjiang criticism
- Qin Gang – A Wolf Warrior in Washington
- Johnny Erling: how Austria’s marxists told on diplomats
A trend toward better working conditions in China sounds like a dream come true for trade unionists and trade politicians in the West. Yet it happens entirely in the own interest of the Chinese leadership; after all, a socialist country cannot remain antisocial forever. This is why Chinese authorities are forcing the food-delivery app Meituan to offer better conditions to its delivery drivers. However, this discussion is also familiar to us. Be it Uber, Lieferando, or Gorilla, the questions are the same: what kind of employment relationship do companies have with their delivery drivers in the first place? And aren’t these trendy platforms creating a new precariat?
Meanwhile, the latest action against Meituan is part of a broader offensive against tech companies. In China’s eyes, these companies have acquired too much power. Their market share in their segments is too big, they gained too much specialized knowledge and collected too much data. As a result, these companies are becoming serious competition for the CCP’s control over the country. And this is the one thing that cannot be tolerated. But even in this regard, there is a parallel to the USA and Europe, where parliaments and regulators are now starting to give its Internet giants a slap on the wrists. China is just taking more severe actions against billion-dollar companies.
Today, we also have two stories from the world of diplomats. One is set during the Mao era, the other in the present. Their common theme: animal metaphors. China’s new ambassador to Washington, Qin Gang, is considered a “Wolf Warrior in sheep’s clothing,” as Michael Radunski puts it. In contrast, his predecessors in the 1960s were made “sacrificial lambs” by Mao himself, as our columnist Johnny Erling tells us. So the situation has always been a serious one, while the occasional little scandal surrounding ambassadors provides for amusement in foreign policy, then as now.
Meituan to provide better conditions for drivers
A set of new guidelines released on Monday afternoon by China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) and six other government agencies aims to improve the protection of basic worker labor rights in “new forms of employment.” This refers primarily to the country’s large tech and e-commerce companies, which these reforms are to hold more accountable to guarantee their employees a safe basic income, job security, food safety, appropriate working conditions, and access to insurance coverage. Furthermore, authorities are demanding to end harassment and evaluation of mobile workforce, such as food delivery workers, through algorithms.
Meituan on the spot due to poor working conditions
The major Chinese online retailer and food delivery company Meituan-Dianping is now in the sights of authorities on multiple fronts. The company is being reprimanded primarily for the treatment of its employees. The group employed about three million drivers in 2020, who delivered an average of more than 27 million food orders a day. The problem: many were hired as part-time workers and did not receive adequate social and insurance benefits.
Experts now see big changes in the business models of tech companies in the near future. “These guidelines more clearly define the legal relationship between online service providers and part-time workers, an issue that used to be highly disputed as platforms such as Meituan and Ele.me outsourced their delivery services to third-party companies,” said Liu Jia, a lawyer at Yingke Law Firm in Hangzhou. “This will definitely increase costs for online platforms.”