China has asked all delivery companies to register their clients’ real names ahead of the country’s biggest annual online shopping festival, Singles’ Day on November 11.

Real name registrations for all mail and parcel senders started on Sunday (November 1). In a meeting last month, public security minister Guo Shengkun said the measure was part of the government’s push to crack down on crimes and scams using the mail. This followed a series of parcel bomb attacks in Guangxi in September which killed 11 people and injured dozens of others.

Piles of parcels. Photo: Baidu Baike.

Package deliveries are expected to surge significantly next week when millions of consumers go online to snatch discounted clothes, household products, electronics and other goods. During the 2014 Singles’ Day, 88.6 million delivery orders were received across the country in 24 hours, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

Despite the government order, many delivery service providers did not check their clients’ IDs this week, according to investigations by several mainland newspapers.

The Huashang Daily said none of the five delivery companies it tested asked for IDs when reporters attempted to send packages. Some companies also didn’t check whether there were banned goods such as lighters in the parcels, the newspaper said. The Beijing Youth Daily reported online shop owners were not asked to provide their customers’ real names when they sent out goods.

Websites promoting the Singles’ Day shopping festival. Photo: HKFP.

The November 11 Singles’ Day shopping festival was invented by Alibaba in 2009 to boost sales for its Taobao online shopping platform, which is now called Tmall, in a low season between the October 1 National Day “golden week” and Christmas.

Called “guang gun jie” or “bare stick holiday” in Chinese, November 11 was branded “the most lonely” day of the year due to the four “one”s, or four “bare stick” singles, contained in the date. The promotional trick was well received among young people and has quickly spread to other online shopping sites in the past six years.

On November 11 last year, consumers spent RMB57.1 billion (HK$69.8 billion) on Tmall, according to statistics released by Alibaba.


Vivienne Zeng

Vivienne Zeng is a journalist from China with three years' experience covering Hong Kong and mainland affairs. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. Her work has been featured on outlets such as Al Jazeera+ and MSNBC.