Anti-trust crackdown: China points new guidelines concentrating on tech companies | E-Commerce Information
The rules are likely to put pressure on companies like Alibaba, JD.com, Ant Group and Tencent, which dominate e-commerce in China.
China’s market regulator has released new anti-monopoly guidelines for Internet platforms that tighten existing restrictions on the country’s tech giants.
The new rules, released on Sunday, formalize an earlier anti-monopoly bill released in November and specify a number of monopoly practices that regulators want to crack down on.
The guidelines are expected to put new pressure on the country’s leading e-commerce websites such as Alibaba Group’s Taobao and Tmall marketplaces and JD.com. They also include payment services like Alipay from Ant Group and WeChat Pay from Tencent Holding.
The rules, published by the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) on their website, prohibit a number of behaviors for companies, including requiring merchants to choose between the best internet players in the country, a longstanding practice in the marketplace.
SAMR said the latest guidelines would “stop monopoly behavior in the platform economy and protect fair competition in the marketplace”.
The notice also stated that it would prevent companies from fixing prices, restricting technology, and using data and algorithms to manipulate the market.
In a Q&A statement accompanying the notice, SAMR said reports of Internet antimonopoly behavior had increased and that it was facing challenges in regulating the industry.
“The behavior is more hidden, the use of data, algorithms, platform rules, etc. makes it difficult to identify and determine monopoly agreements,” it said.
In recent months, China has begun tightening controls on its tech giants and reversing a once-laissez-faire approach.
The Chinese authorities suspended the US $ 37 billion IPO of the payment service provider Ant Group in November because of antitrust concerns [File: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg]China’s Politburo, the Communist Party’s top decision-making body, promised a meeting late last year to strengthen antimonopoly efforts in 2021. Less than two weeks after the meeting, China opened an investigation into Alibaba Group Holding in December of alleged monopoly practices.
Those moves followed the dramatic suspension of its payment company Ant Group’s $ 37 billion IPO plan.
At the time, regulators warned the company about practices, including requiring traders to sign exclusive cooperation pacts at the expense of other Internet platforms.
Companies have filed competition lawsuits even as regulators tighten their scrutiny.
ByteDance Ltd filed a lawsuit against Tencent Holdings Ltd last week over alleged monopolies on its WeChat and QQ platforms, escalating a feud between two Chinese social media giants. A court in Beijing has agreed to hear the case, a ByteDance representative confirmed to Bloomberg news agency on Sunday.