Analysing the Notion of 'Consumer' in China’s Consumer Protection Law


The notion of ‘consumer’ in Article 2 of the People’s Republic of China (PRC)’s Consumer Protection Law has been subject to criticism as it is vague, can be difficult to apply to real life situations, and is also at odds with the notion of a ‘consumer’ found in other jurisdictions around the world. This article will discuss the Chinese legislative definition of a ‘consumer’ from a comparative perspective before considering how this notion has been applied by the courts, by analysing several Guiding Cases issued by China’s Supreme People’s Court (SPC) and judgments in which the Guiding Cases have been subsequently applied. The article will then consider the delicate balance that the courts in China are attempting to strike between encouraging consumer claimants to pursue fraudulent traders and yet discouraging consumers from exploiting the punitive damages provisions of the PRC Consumer Protection Law. Thus, this detailed analysis of the legal notion of a ‘consumer’ in China offers a unique and powerful insight into the wider role of consumers within the Chinese legal system.

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Divisions: Aston Business School > Law
Aston Business School
Additional Information: © The Author(s) (2018). Published by Oxford University Press. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact
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Related URLs: https://academi ... 6/2/294/5238836 (Publisher URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2018-12-11
Accepted Date: 2018-09-24
Authors: Thomas, Kristie ( 0000-0002-7718-2346)



Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial

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