According to the Guidance Opinions On Online Transaction issued by China's Ministry of Commerce, buyers and sellers can sign a transaction contract via email or online chat tools and they can keep and use the email or online chat record as evidence when disputes arise.

Gao Jun, a legal expert on e-commerce services, has told local media that the new rule provides a policy basis for online chat records to be used as evidence in solving disputes with the recognition of the authoritative government departments. In addition, the rule emphasizes that besides keeping the online communication transaction record, consumers should also transform the online record into written form or take other necessary measures to keep a record of the transaction for large goods, precious goods or important services.

The rule has also put forward some useful suggestions for consumers to protect their interests during online transactions. For example, it suggests that the transaction parties know each other's real identification and choose safe and reliable payment tools.

However, in China an official stamp is usually needed to legally seal deals, so it is unclear how this new rule will circumvent the traditional chop.

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