Zhejiang Party chief visits Alibaba, as support for online platforms highlighted at top meeting
Published: Dec 19, 2022 09:25 PM
Photo: CFP

Photo: CFP

Chinese authorities have signaled stronger and unswerving support for the private sector and online platforms in recent days, asking firms to care for both development and regulation, after a key economic meeting encouraged the private sector and digital economy platforms to "fully display their talent" in leading development, creating jobs and competing internationally.

Observers noted that the move, rather than a "policy shift" as some have misunderstood, is in line with the central government's supportive attitude to the private economy, and normalized regulation will go on with their development to better guide their growth in a sound and stable way.

In a fresh sign, Yi Lianhong, who was appointed as secretary of the Communist Party of China Zhejiang Provincial Committee earlier this month, made a visit to domestic e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding on Sunday.

During the visit, Yi urged the company to strive to be "a model student of normative development, a leader in innovative development, and a supporter of integrated development," while asking it to adhere to development and regulation and to unleash innovation dynamics and enhance core competitiveness, the official Zhejiang Daily reported.

Yi also stressed that capital investment and expansion has to be regulated, according to the report. Yi also visited communities, science and technology innovation platforms, and cultural heritage parks, the report said.

The visit came just two days after the annual Central Economic Work Conference, during which top Chinese policymakers set priorities for the nation's economic work in 2023, stressed support for the private sector and digital economy platforms. 

"This is no doubt a positive signal," Liu Dingding, a veteran analyst and close watcher of the internet industry, told the Global Times on Monday.

"As the platform economy, represented by internet giants such as Alibaba, Meituan and, has penetrated into every aspect of our lives and also become an important pillar of the Chinese economy, stronger support for the sector will also greatly boost the growth of the Chinese economy as a whole," Liu said.

On Monday morning, Chinese technology companies listed in Hong Kong gained strength over the supportive tone from policymakers. For instance, Meituan rose by nearly 5 percent and Kuaishou rose by 4.5 percent. Alibaba, NetEase, Bilibili and Tencent rose more than 3 percent, while rose more than 2 percent.

But strong support doesn't mean there will be no regulation at all, as in the overall direction mapped by the top policymakers, regulations will be normalized and will also be necessary to nurture their healthy growth, Liu pointed out. 

Wei Jianguo, vice chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchange and former vice minister of commerce, said the key meeting has clearly expressed its attitude toward the platform economy - that is, to give full play to its advantages, while its shortcomings are to be overcome, and it should be managed on normalized regulations.

Wei told the Global Times on Monday that "the relevant statement from policymakers has given all platform economy companies reassurance and made them feel that they can develop with confidence, thus leading the development of various tracks of the economy." 

"It should be said that China's platform economy has ushered in the best opportunity for development," the expert said.

Officials also stressed the importance of the country's vast private economy as a whole in an article published by the Xinhua News Agency on Monday, which aims to explain the key points of the Central Economic Work Conference.

An official at China's Central Economic and Financial Affairs Commission said in the article that the tone-setting meeting attached "great importance" to the difficulties of private firms, namely weak expectations and lack of confidence, emphasizing the need to optimize their development environment and promote the development and growth of the private economy.

"For a period of time, there have been various incorrect discussions in society about whether China is still engaged in a socialist market economy… which have had a serious negative impact on social confidence and development prospects. In this regard, the central government has a firm and clear attitude and is unequivocal," said the official.

It is necessary to comprehensively sort out and revise laws, regulations and policies related to enterprises and continue to break down barriers affecting equal access. It is necessary to improve the fair competition system, oppose local protection and administrative monopolies, and open up more space for private enterprises, according to the official.