Beijing is putting pressure on China’s tech companies to limit private companies’ access to the Chinese public’s daily finances
After regulators warned them about a record fine against e-commerce giant Alibaba, more than 20 Chinese tech companies signed a public agreement to follow anti-monopoly guidelines. Beijing is putting pressure on China’s tech companies to limit private companies’ access to the Chinese public’s daily finances — and, analysts say, to rein in their out-of-control growth.
Some of the country’s biggest brands, including ByteDance, Baidu, and CTrip, pledged to “ensure fair competition,” “not exploit market dominance,” and “not enforce unfair pricing conduct” in a series of individual statements released by China’s market regulator on Wednesday and Thursday.
The oaths come after regulators summoned 34 tech firms on Tuesday, warning them to “rectify” any anti-competitive practices and “heed Alibaba’s case warning.”
After performing internal reviews, the companies were given one month to complete rectification and correct practices that harmed competition. Service for requesting a ride Didi, video sites Kuaishou and Bilibili, and e-commerce company JD.com are among the companies that have made commitments since then.
JD.com has stated that it would not impose the practice of “choosing one of two” on its merchants, in which merchants are forced to partner with only one platform and not its competitors, a step that has been criticized by Alibaba. Didi, for its part, promised in a statement that “we would not secretly obtain or exploit personal information unless it is required for daily business activities.”
The massive amounts of data that big tech companies collect from Chinese customers may be the next front in Beijing’s war on big tech. Alibaba was fined $2.78 billion by regulators on Saturday, following a months-long investigation that found it had been exploiting its dominant market position.
On the back of rising Chinese digital lifestyles and government restrictions on major US rivals in the domestic market, Alibaba and JD.com, as well as messaging and gaming giant Tencent, have become hugely profitable. However, as the platforms grew in popularity, concerns about their impact in China, where they are used for a wide range of daily tasks, grew.