China’s market regulator fines 10 illegal Internet acquisition cases to fight monopoly, involving tech giants
Published: Mar 12, 2021 01:29 PM
Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

China's market regulator on Friday fined 10 illegal purchases in the internet industry, citing violations of the anti-monopoly policy, and that the deals involved tech giants such as Tencent, Baidu and Didi.

They are the latest cases after China vowed to revise its anti-monopoly law at the just concluded Two Sessions on Thursday.

The State Administration for Market Regulation said the 10 deals include Tencent's acquisition of shares of online education platform Yuanfudao, the joint venture of Didi Mobile and Softbank, and Baidu's buy-out of home hardware terminal manufacturer Ainemo.

The regulator said the deals all violate anti-monopoly law, and each will be fined 500,000 yuan ($77,000). 

Strengthening anti-monopoly in the internet industry is an important part of the government's anti-monopoly supervision, Zhao Zhanling, an analyst at the Center for IPR Studies at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times on Friday. 

He said internet giants have become too big, and have a huge impact on politics, economy, and culture after more than 20 years of development, and some giants even use their capital to unfairly expand, engage in cutthroat competition, and disrupt the market order, "which is the reason why the country regulates the industry through anti-monopoly."

China has significantly strengthened anti-monopoly supervision of the internet industry since the second half of 2020.

China's market regulator last November issued draft anti-monopoly rules related to the country's online economy to enhance oversight of the country's giant online service platforms, and invited public comments as it takes steps toward protecting consumers' interests.

China will revise the anti-monopoly law to build a modern economic system and promote technological innovation, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, said in a work report on Monday.

The law aims to rectify irregularities in the market and better regulate giant online platforms so that their businesses can be placed under a set of transparent, operable scrutiny and rules, analysts said.

China's market regulator fined five community group buying platforms earlier this month due to their unfair price competition practices. 

In December, China's market regulator fined Alibaba Group and China Literature, a Tencent-backed company, for failing to seek approval before proceeding with some acquisitions, a violation of the anti-monopoly law.

Last month, China also imposed a 3 million yuan fine on online discount retailer Vipshop for unfair competition. The company was found to have run a system that obtained information about brands on its platform and others to gain a competitive advantage.