China’s Meituan to Change Delivery Algorithm Rules Amid Increased Regulatory Scrutiny

By Rita Li
Rita Li
Rita Li
Rita Li is a reporter with The Epoch Times, focusing on China-related topics. She began writing for the Chinese-language edition in 2018.
September 14, 2021 Updated: September 14, 2021

Chinese food delivery giant Meituan released its algorithm rules for the first time as it faces increased scrutiny from regulators. The move is aimed at protecting labor rights for millions of riders by extending the estimated delivery time.

The algorithms help to estimate the time span for riders to complete their deliveries, Meituan stated on Chinese social media platform WeChat on Sept. 10.

According to the post, Meituan will choose the longest time frame from several calculated results for riders, which would factor in delays caused by food vendors, traffic, and others.

Meanwhile, the company introduced a degree of flexibility in experimental cities by changing an estimated arrival time to a time period; it had also invited its delivery workers and outside experts to give feedback on how the algorithms could be improved.

Meituan, China’s eighth-largest company by market value, is under pressure as authorities come down hard on the country’s sprawling platform economy.

In September 2020, a Chinese magazine published a report exposing the huge pressure and risks when riders rush to meet deadlines set by the companies’ algorithms.

On Sept. 2, Chinese regulators summoned Meituan and another 10 ride-hailing firms, ordering the companies to inspect their business practices and form a compliance plan by the end of the year.

According to state-run news agency Xinhua, the overall number of food delivery workers in China has reached 7.7 million.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Rita Li
Rita Li
Rita Li is a reporter with The Epoch Times, focusing on China-related topics. She began writing for the Chinese-language edition in 2018.