EYESHENZHEN  /  News  /  Opinion  /  

Legislation should advance with the times


Winton Dong

  | Editor: Jane Chen  | From:  | Updated: 2017-07-24
Email of the writer: dht0620@126.com

The only thing that remains unchanged in the world is change. Ten years ago, young graduates were proud of themselves for successfully landing jobs in investment banks or venture capital groups such as Golden Sachs, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley. But nowadays, youngsters prefer to work for more vibrant and promising tech companies such as Apple, Facebook, Tencent and Alibaba.

According to a list recently released by BrandZ, a famous brand crediting company based in the United States, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, AT&T, Visa, Tencent, IBM and McDonald’s were the top 10 most valuable global brands in 2017. Among the 10 conglomerates on the tally, Internet companies dominate the list. It is also obvious that the United States is still the biggest winner. Except for Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings, the other nine companies on the top list are all American brands.

The situation is similar in China. In 2007, China National Petroleum Corp., China National Power Grid and other State-owned enterprises were the largest companies in the country in terms of brand value. But now Tencent, Alibaba, Huawei and other private-owned Internet and tech companies have become the top players in China. For example, with the increasing popularity of WeChat, an instant messaging tool developed by Shenzhen-based Tencent, market capitalization of the company, which is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, has surged about 60 percent in the past 12 months to more than HK$2,800 billion (US$358 billion).

Quick development of Internet companies in China during the past years has signified the coming of the Internet age. However, existing laws and regulations in the country are still mainly within the framework of real economy sectors such as industry, manufacturing and trade.

To cater to the new demands of the Internet economy, our legislation should also advance with the times. A recent heated debate throughout China over “Honor of Kings,” also known as “King of Glory,” a popular online smartphone game with 80 million daily users developed by Tencent, has taught us a lesson and shown the urgency of revising and updating our legislation. In April this year, media reported that a 17-year-old gamer in Guangdong Province suffered a stroke after spending 40 consecutive hours playing “King of Glory.”

Such a report has aroused the concerns and triggered complaints by many Chinese parents over their children’s all-night gaming marathons. Under great pressure from society, Tencent released a statement on July 4 to dispel parents’ concerns and to express its aim to limit online gaming. According to the statement, users less than 12 years old are limited to one hour of play per day now, and will not be allowed to sign in after 9 p.m. Users between 12 and 18 years old are limited to two hours a day. The company will also place caps on the amount of money that underage users can spend on its mobile platform, so as to curb irrational consumption by children.

As a big company with strong social responsibility, what Tencent has taken are self-disciplinary measures. According to a Xinhua report, as the world’s most popular online game, “King of Glory” now ranks first globally in revenue with about 6 billion yuan in the first quarter of 2017. After the declaration of Tencent to limit young users on July 4, its share price slumped by more than 4 percent on July 5, causing a sharp decrease of HK$11 billion in its market value in only one trading day.

In the current absence of clear laws and regulations guarding against mobile gaming addiction in China, self-discipline is very important for gaming companies. But self-discipline is far from enough to create a fair and law-abiding market environment in China. As we all know, it is the core interest of a company to pursue maximum profits. How long can Tencent keep such a policy of limiting underage users by cutting its own revenue and hurting the interest of shareholders?

Under this circumstance, it is an urgent task for the Chinese Government and the legislative bodies to think carefully and introduce legislation that will ban or restrict minors from playing online games.

(The author is the editor-in-chief of the Shenzhen Daily with a Ph.D. from the Journalism and Communication School of Wuhan University.)