how does Chinese VAT tax on parcels from abroad work?

suppose a consumer in China orders something in an American online store and gets his purchase by mail. How will he pay the 17% VAT tax on this purchase? Will he be required to show up at the post office, supply some sort of documents certifying the price of the parcel contents and pay cash? How do these things work there?

I can’t speak for China, but if I order something from overseas from here in South Africa the parcel it goes through South African customs where 14% VAT and customs duties (if applicable) are added. I then have to pay when I collect the parcel from the Post Office

It seems pretty random to me. Most of the stuff I get is DHL. Sometimes samples have duty, sometimes not. Not all packages are checked. The sender has to fill out a customs declaration form and put in a $ value (or sample with no resale value). Sometimes I am asked to pay 17% VAT. Sometimes I’ll pay, sometimes I won’t and just decline the package.

I’ve had mobile phones shipped to me no problem, and have had a CD get nailed.

does the above mean that a parcel from overseas usually cannot be actually delivered to the residential address but rather has to be always picked up at the post office (probably inconveniencing the recipient)?

the post office would go to the biz or residential address, and then you wiould have to go to the post office if not at home.