China clamps down on 22 anti-monopoly cases, fines biggest Internet giants

Heavyweight Chinese Internet companies such as Alibaba and Tencent received a hefty fine on Wednesday by China’s anti-monopoly regulators. A total of 22 companies were fined 500,000 yuan (US$75,000) each for acquiring stakes in companies that could improperly build their market share, said the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) on its website. According to SAMR, the parties fined include six companies owned by Alibaba Group, five by Tencent Holdings and two by retailer Suning.com.

In April, Alibaba was fined US$2.8 billion, which was one of the heftiest fines faced by a Chinese company. SAMR alleged in a statement that since 2015, the Group "has abused its dominant position in the market" and imposed a "Choose one out of two" requirement for its merchants. It also claimed that this has prohibited Alibaba's merchants from opening stores or participating in promotional activities on other rival platforms.

Meanwhile earlier this week, it was reported that antitrust regulators in China will be blocking Tencent Holdings’ merger of the top two videogame streaming sites, Huya and DouYu. This came as Tencent failed to produce remedies to meet SAMR's requirements on giving up exclusive rights.

Tencent also withdrew its merger application for antitrust review as it was unable to complete a resubmission within 180 days after submitting the application for the first time. The news of the merger of Huya and DouYu emerged last year. Currently, Tencent currently owns a 36.9% stake in Huya and more than 33% in DouYu. The two platforms hold the top two positions in China’s video gaming streaming industry and are popular destinations for esports tournaments streaming and professional gamers.

The Chinese government also asked ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing to remove from app stores due to serious violations on Didi Global's collection and usage of personal information. Multiple reports said Chinese cybersecurity watchdog, the Cyberspace Administration of China, announced the ban on Sunday, just two days after the regulator said it was starting a cybersecurity review of the company. 

The authority said on Sunday that it ordered Didi Chuxing to rectify its problems following legal requirements and national standards and take steps to protect the personal information of its users. On the same day, Didi Chuxing said it had halted new user registrations as of 3 July and was now working to rectify its app in accordance with regulatory requirements. Just yesterday, CNBC reported that Didi's main app was removed as a shortcut from WeChat and Alipay.

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