GT Voice: Western distortion of China’s tech regulation ill-intentioned
Published: Jan 06, 2022 08:28 PM
Concept photo of internet finance Illustration: VCG

Concept photo of internet finance Illustration: VCG

While it is a widely-accepted trend for internet giants to face growing regulatory scrutiny around the world, it is strange that some Western media outlets continue to believe that China's efforts to regulate its internet economy will harm Chinese economy.

The latest example is an article in The New York Times on Wednesday, which claimed that the "tech crackdown" in China is "killing the innovation, creativity and entrepreneurial spirit that made China a tech power ... destroying companies, profits and jobs."

The Western attempt to misread the real intentions behind China's tightened regulation is not surprising. If anything, the West doesn't really care about China's internet economy, and what they want is to take this opportunity to criticize China's political system by painting a bleak picture for Chinese tech giants. Yet, pessimistic views pushed by the Western media about China have never turned out to be accurate in the past decades, and this time will be no exception.

Over the past decade, China's internet economy has made marked progress, but the industry has been hampered by unchecked expansion and savage growth. In pursuit of rapid growth and quick returns, many internet giants have engaged in monopolistic activities, to the detriment of the innovation of smaller competitors and infringing the rights and interests of the broad consumers. 

In the meantime, under the changeable international situation, data security has been elevated to an unprecedented height. Internet giants holding massive amounts of user data are required to shoulder more social responsibility and be accountable for the consequences of their expansion.

Moreover, as how to improve the competition and business environment within the internet sector has become a focus of global regulators, it is necessary for Chinese regulators to follow the trend in this aspect as an effort to promote the international competitiveness of Chinese internet giants.

It needs to be made clear the tightened regulation doesn't equal to repression, and that the intention of China's market regulation is to guide Chinese internet companies to grow in line with China's economic development goals, not those of the US, or of Wall Street.

For the current Chinese economy, ensuring stable economic growth, guiding the orderly expansion of capital, and realizing common prosperity are the most pressing goals. Nevertheless, the winner-takes-all mentality of internet giants has the potential to sabotage such goals, as the emergence of internet giants have concentrated social wealth and increased the gap between the rich and poor.

Chinese regulators stepped up anti-monopoly oversight and other regulation over domestic internet-based business giants from last year. Given the latest anti-monopoly fines imposed on several tech giants on the first working day of 2022, officials are unlikely to relax regulations this year. The efforts indicate that unless Chinese regulators see that the growth of internet giants no longer deviates from the country's overall economic goals, China's attitude toward internet regulation will not change.

In this sense, Chinese tech giants need to adjust their development strategies quickly to meet the development goals of the Chinese economy. Only by doing so can they regain the rhythm of rapid growth again.