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Enquiry: When Promoting Goods or Services in China, What Rules Should Foreign Enterprises Abide by?

Photo: Advertising in China
Photo: Advertising in China

When advertising as a means of promoting the sales of goods or services on the mainland, every individual, legal entity or other organisation responsible for the design, production or distribution of such material, while either acting on their own behalf or via an authorised agent, is obliged to comply with the provisions of the Advertising Law of the People’s Republic of China. Furthermore, they must also take into account any regulations governing the promotion of specific products and services, including patented goods, medical treatments, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, health foods, tobacco products, wines, educational and training initiatives, investments and real estate.

Additionally, in accordance with the Regulations on the Control of Advertisements, the content of all such promotional material, whether it is to be printed, broadcast, mailed or otherwise installed, must fall within the scope of the advertiser’s permitted business activities as laid down by the state. The Regulations also proscribe the distribution (by any and all means) of advertisements deemed to contain content that violates the laws and regulations of the state, impairs national dignity, features the national flag, the national emblem or the national anthem of the PRC. The same restriction also applies to any advertisement deemed to be reactionary, obscene, superstitious, absurd or fraudulent, as well as any promotional material that sets out to deliberately damage the reputation of any rival products. In line with this, it is incumbent upon all providers of advertising services to verify all submitted certification and to evaluate the content of all such promotional materials as part of their everyday responsibilities. Should any material that fails to comply with the above stipulations be distributed in any form, said individuals will be deemed to be liable.

In accordance with the Detailed Implementation Rules for the Regulations on the Control of Advertisements, the following certification must be submitted when applying for the distribution of promotional material:

  • In the case of privately-owned businesses and other enterprises, the relevant business licence must be available for inspection
  • In the case of administrative organisations, social groups or public institutions, the certification relevant to their particular status must be presented
  • In the case of individuals, the appropriate documentation, as issued by the relevant administrative body for their village or township, relevant neighbourhood office or the unit to which they belong, must be presented
  • In the case of any resident office representing overseas enterprises, a valid Certificate of Registration of Resident Representatives of Foreign Enterprises in China, as issued by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, must be presented

In the case of any overseas enterprise or individual looking to conduct promotional activity on the mainland, this must be enacted by a suitably qualified advertising organisation registered in China and licensed to work within the sector.

For further details (Chinese), please refer to the following:
Department of Advertising Regulation of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research