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China

Where Posting Negative Online Reviews Can Ruin Your Life

In China, e-sellers harass consumers in some particularly disturbing ways if they've written negative reviews about their products.

Thinking about writing a negative review? Think again! (sbfh 0607)
Thinking about writing a negative review? Think again! (sbfh 0607)

BEIJING – The Chinese Internet is not a safe place. Criticizing government officials might land you a free (and sometimes lengthy) trip to a re-education camp or an eye-opening stay in a psychiatric ward.

If you're complaining about a product that you bought online, chances are you will receive bizarre presents such as an infant-size coffin, or a parcel containing disgusting and smelly things. Insulting phone calls in the middle of the night will keep you awake or your telephone number might simply become a hotline for phone sex.

The harassment will stop once you remove your online criticism or - even better - change it into praise.

If none of these threatening methods convince you, the sellers have other resources. For example, they can bribe the administrator of the website, delaying any criticism or use keywords to shield the offending text from being seen, or simply just have it deleted.

According to some Chinese industry resources, it is pretty much the unspoken rule these days that all online shopping evaluations are fakes.

Bad news travels fast

Word of mouth is one of the most important features of e-commerce. A negative comment has far greater effect since "good news usually stays inside while bad news travels far".

However, a "harmonious world" without any discord cannot possibly exist, either in the real world or in the virtual world. A product's poor rating serves as a warning to potential buyers, but also as a reminder to sellers about maintaining service and quality.

According to a study conducted by British online shopping evaluation site Reevoo, 68% of consumers said they trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores, and 95% said they suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don't see bad scores.

A good business should respond to client reviews positively and actively. A lasting business is based on an environment where sellers are willing to accept criticism from customers with an open mind and use this criticism to improve their products or services. Reevoo's study showed that 18% of consumers became loyal customers after receiving a brand response to negative feedback, and 95% of them would actually recommend a brand or retailer to friends after great customer service.

Read the full article in Chinese.

*Newsbites are digest items not direct translations.

Photo - sbfh 0607

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Coronavirus

Chinese Students' "Absurd" Protest Against COVID Lockdowns: Public Crawling

While street demonstrations have spread in China to protest the strict Zero-COVID regulations, some Chinese university students have taken up public acts of crawling to show what extended harsh lockdowns are doing to their mental state.

​Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling on a soccer pitch

Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling

Shuyue Chen

Since last Friday, the world has watched a wave of street protests have taken place across China as frustration against extended lockdowns reached a boiling point. But even before protesters took to the streets, Chinese university students had begun a public demonstration that challenges and shames the state's zero-COVID rules in a different way: public displays of crawling, as a kind of absurdist expression of their repressed anger under three years of strict pandemic control.

Xin’s heart was beating fast as her knees reached the ground. It was her first time joining the strange scene at the university sports field, so she put on her hat and face mask to cover her identity.

Kneeling down, with her forearms supporting her body from the ground, Xin started crawling with three other girls as a group, within a larger demonstration of other small groups. As they crawled on, she felt the sense of fear and embarrassment start to disappear. It was replaced by a liberating sense of joy, which had been absent in her life as a university student in lockdown for so long.

Yes, crawling in public has become a popular activity among Chinese university students recently. There have been posters and videos of "volunteer crawling" across universities in China. At first, it was for the sake of "fun." Xin, like many who participated, thought it was a "cult-like ritual" in the beginning, but she changed her mind. "You don't care about anything when crawling, not thinking about the reason why, what the consequences are. You just enjoy it."

The reality out there for Chinese university students has been grim. For Xin, her university started daily COVID-19 testing in November, and deliveries, including food, are banned. Apart from the school gate, all exits have been padlock sealed.

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