China released new anti-monopoly guidelines on Sunday that target internet platforms, a move tightening the existing restrictions faced by the country’s top tech companies. The new rules formalise an earlier anti-monopoly draft law released in November, and clarify a series of monopolistic practices that regulators can crack down on.
The rules, issued by the market regulator, bar companies from a range of behaviour, including forcing merchants to choose between the country’s top internet players, a long-time practice in the market. The latest guidelines would “stop monopolistic behaviours in the platform economy and protect fair competition in the market.” The notice also said it will stop companies from price fixing, restricting technologies and using data and algorithms to manipulate the market.
State media reported, the Anti-Monopoly Committee of the State Council encourages operators in the platform economy to report their monopolistic practices. Experts say, the guidelines are expected to put new pressure on the country’s leading internet services platforms, including e-commerce sites such as Alibaba Group’s Taobao and Tmall marketplaces or JD.com. They will also cover payment services like Ant Group’s Alipay or Tencent Holding’s WeChat Pay.
China has in recent months started to tighten scrutiny of its tech giants, reversing a once laissez-faire approach. In December, regulators launched an antitrust investigation into Alibaba Group following the dramatic suspension of the $37 billion initial public offering plan of its payment affiliate, Ant Group.
Source: News On Air