According to Reuters, China’s market regulator on Saturday, Nov. 20, said it was fining companies including Alibaba, Baidu, and JD.com for violating anti-monopoly legislation, by not declaring 43 deals that date as far back as 2012 to authorities.
Each enterprise involved in the cases would be fined $78,000, it said, the maximum under China’s 2008 Anti-Monopoly Law.
The earliest deal cited was a 2012 acquisition involving Baidu and a partner. The most recent was the 2021 agreement between Baidu and Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holdings to establish a new-energy vehicle enterprise.
Other deals listed by the State Administration of Market Supervision included Alibaba’s 2014 acquisition of Chinese digital mapping and navigation firm AutoNavi and its 2018 purchase of a 44% stake in Ele.me to become the food delivery service’s largest shareholder.
The deals, nevertheless, did not have the impact of eradicating or restricting competition, the regulator said.
In December 2020, it punished Alibaba, Tencent-backed China Literature, and Shenzhen Hive Box $78,300 each for failing to report past deals properly for antitrust reviews, Reuters added, the first time it had ever done so.
China has been tightening its control over the dynamic internet platforms, citing the risk of abusing market power to stifle competition, misuse consumers’ data, and violate consumer rights. This is part of a flurry of crackdowns targeting sectors ranging from technology to cryptocurrency, gaming, entertainment, and after-school tuition, which started one year ago.
Rana Mitter is a professor specializing in the history and politics of modern China at the University of Oxford. He said the Communist Party “seems increasingly concerned that China’s tech sector has become so globally prominent that it runs the danger of outrunning the Party itself,” and “The crackdown helps to bring it down to size,” CNN reported.
Alibaba, Baidu, JD.com, and Geely did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters.