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China is creating regulations that will make taxi apps like Uber ‘legal’

Chinese transport minister Yang Chuantang has announced that the country is looking into creating regulations that will allow taxi and ridesharing apps like Uber legal, as it’s been deemed a good experience for customers.

According to the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the Chinese mainland government made an announcement on Monday, explaining that all stakeholders would have to be taken into account when creating the regulatory framework, including taxi businesses.

“As a new invention, online ride-hailing services have been a good experience for consumers, and welcomed by some passengers. So our solution is to provide a legal way,” he said.

Services such as Uber are already in China, as well as local rivals such as Didi Chuxing. The announcement led some to question whether the Chinese government therefore deem the services currently illegal.

As with many other countries, including the US, the UK and other European countries such as France, Uber-like services have been met by controversy and backlash, including strike action from established taxi businesses. In some parts of China, they have met similar reactions.

The government is therefore taking this into account, according to SCMP. “These interest groups have very complicated and diverse demands and carrying out further reform will require adjustments in their interests,” Yang said.

One key issue that concerns China is the likes of Uber’s ability to spend lots of money to gain scale, compared to local businesses. He said, “It is unhealthy and cannot be sustained in the long term”.

Uber has been investing significantly in marketing its services in Asia. In Singapore, where the taxi app market is competetive, Uber carried out a campaign around Chinese New Year, in which is allowed people to buy a lion dance via the app.

Despite the announcement on Monday, there has been no timeframe set for the regulations to come into play.