The Chinese Ministry of Commerce recently promulgated the Notice on Relevant Issues concerning the Examination, Approval and Administration of Projects of Foreign Investment in Internet and Vending Machine Sales ("Notice").

The Notice defines internet sales as the online extension of the enterprise's sales and allows duly approved and registered foreign- invested production and commercial enterprises to engage directly in online sales.

The Measures for the Administration of Foreign Investment in the Commercial Sector and other related laws and regulations serve as the basis for the approval of the establishment of specialised online sales enterprises by provincial-level commerce authorities. Special approval requirements may apply to online sales of certain products. For instance, selling pharmaceuticals online requires a pharmaceutical trade license from the State Food and Drug Administration, and selling books, newspapers and periodicals requires approval from the administrative department of publication under the State Council.

Providing network services to other parties through the enterprise's own network platform requires a value-added telecommunication business license. The foreign-invested enterprise must display its business license and other business operation approval certificates, if applicable, on its website.

Approval of provincial-level commerce authorities is required for establishing a foreign-invested enterprise engaged in selling goods by vending machine, or for an established enterprise that wants to add vending machine sales.

Foreign-invested enterprises engaged in internet and vending machine sales must abide by the Law on the Protection of Consumers' Rights and Interests, the Product Quality Law and other relevant laws and regulations.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.