China Tightens Antitrust Control of Tech Giants

On the 7th of February, SAMR has issued new guidelines on the platform economy business' activity that formalized an antitrust bill issued in November. These new rules target the largest internet platforms and are intended to clarify a number of monopolistic practices that regulators are preparing to tackle.

Available for review on the State Administration for the Market Regulation website, these rules prohibit long-standing anticompetitive practices such as forcing merchants to choose between the country's leading Internet players.

The new rules are expected to further increase pressure on major Chinese e-commerce players, such as Taobao and Tmall Marketplaces Alibaba Group or and payment services including Ant Group's Alipay and Tencent Holding's WeChat Pay in recent months.

In December, regulators launched an antitrust investigation against the Alibaba Group following a dramatic suspension of its $ 37 billion initial IPO of its affiliate payments company Ant Group. At that time, charges were brought against the company, particularly for forcing sellers to sign exclusive cooperation agreements to the detriment of other internet platforms.

According to SAMR reports of anticompetitive behaviour on the internet, the antitrust actions of tech giants are becoming more sophisticated, hidden in algorithms, data, and platform policies. The administration hopes that the guidelines it has formulated will stop monopolistic behaviour in the platform economy "including cartel collusion, restrictions on technology use and other prohibited market manipulation techniques.