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Wang Lin, the deputy director of the Beijing Municipal Human Resources and Social Security Bureau’s labour relations division, is shown spending a day working as a Meituan delivery driver in Beijing, China, in a video clip released on April 28, 2021. Photo: Screenshot via Weibo

Government official working a shift as Meituan courier is featured in new Communist Party documentary

  • The two-minute clip was released Wednesday by Beijing’s municipal department in charge of human resources and social security
  • The video was published the same week that China’s market regulator kicked off a probe into alleged monopolistic business practices by the on-demand delivery giant.

A new government video showing a local labour official working a 12-hour shift as a Meituan employee has been making the rounds on Chinese social media, two days after the on-demand delivery giant became the latest target of China’s sweeping campaign to rein in the country’s internet companies.

The two-minute clip, shared by the Beijing Municipal Human Resources and Social Security Bureau’s official Weibo account on Wednesday, featured the deputy director of the bureau’s labour relations division Wang Lin spending a day working as a Meituan delivery driver in the Chinese capital.

Wang Lin, a Beijing labour official, is seen delivering a meal in Beijing, China, for the Chinese on-demand service provider Meituan as part of a documentary celebrating the centenary of the Chinese Communist Party. Photo: Beijing Municipal Human Resources and Social Security Bureau via Weibo

Wang was filmed rushing around Beijing on a motorbike to pick up food orders while struggling with the city’s infamously congested traffic. At one point, he was 20 minutes late, resulting in a 60 per cent penalty cut in the delivery fee.

“I worked for such a long time but made so little money. It is far from my target of earning 100 yuan (US$15.4) today … The money is so difficult to make,” said Wang, who earned 41 yuan by the end of his one-day stint.

“Before, I wondered why the platform distributed so many orders to the couriers … Now [I know], if the couriers want to make money, they must take a lot of orders,” he said.

Meituan declined to comment on the video on Wednesday. In a separate press release, the company said it has hosted 22 meetings with riders since the Lunar New Year and collected over 50 suggestions from them, with 19 already having been implemented.

The Beijing-based company, which runs China’s leading food-delivery app, said in a report last July that it employed 2.95 million riders. They delivered an average of more than 27 million food-delivery orders a day last year.

The Hong Kong-listed company reported 114.8 billion yuan in revenue in 2020.

Meituan delivery riders rest on their electric scooters while waiting for orders outside a restaurant in Beijing, China, on April 26, 2021. Photo: AFP
The video posted on Weibo, viewed over 11 million times by Wednesday morning, appeared just days after China’s market regulator launched an antitrust investigation into Meituan, accusing it of engaging in the monopolistic business practice of forcing merchants to “pick one from two”.

The new probe confirms that a similar investigation into Alibaba Group Holding, the owner of the South China Morning Post, that kicked off last Christmas Eve and resulted in a record fine of US$2.8 billion earlier this month was not a one-off effort by Chinese antitrust authorities to increase scrutiny of Big Tech.

Some internet users applauded Wednesday’s video. One comment that was liked more than 60,000 times said, “Government officials should go listen to the people rather than staying in the office. That is how they can find ways to solve problems.”

Others wondered if the video might spark further investigation into Meituan.

“So will you go to talk to Meituan?” asked one Weibo comment that was liked over 14,000 times.

“If not, what do you think were the reasons for filming the video?” an internet user replied in a popular comment.