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China: Alibaba, Baidu and other tech giants fined for failing to declare 43 deals

China has tightened its hold on online platforms, reversing a previously laissez-faire policy and citing the risk of exploiting market dominance to hinder competition, misusing customer data, and violating consumer rights.

China Alibaba Baidu and other tech giants fined for failing to declare 43 deals gcw
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Beijing, First Published Nov 20, 2021, 11:46 AM IST
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China's market regulator announced on Saturday that it was fining businesses such as Alibaba, Baidu, and JD.com for failing to report 43 transactions dating back to 2012 to authorities, citing anti-monopoly rules. According to the statement, the enterprises engaged in the instances will be punished CNY 500,000 (approximately Rs. 58.15 lakhs) each, which is the highest penalty under China's 2008 Anti-Monopoly Law. Requests for comment from Alibaba, Baidu, JD.com, and Geely were not immediately returned.

China has tightened its hold on online platforms, reversing a previously laissez-faire policy and citing the risk of exploiting market dominance to hinder competition, misusing customer data, and violating consumer rights. Since late 2020, Beijing has initiated anti-monopoly, data security, and other crackdowns on internet businesses. The ruling party is concerned that the firms have too much influence over their sectors and has urged them not to exploit their dominance to overcharge customers or to prevent new rivals from entering. The first transaction noted was a 2012 acquisition between Baidu and a partner. The most recent was a 2021 agreement between Baidu and Chinese carmaker Zhejiang Geely Holdings to establish a new-energy vehicle firm.

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The State Administration of Market Supervision noted other transactions included Alibaba's 2014 purchase of Chinese digital mapping and navigation startup AutoNavi. It also noted the 2018 purchase of a 44 per cent interest in Ele.me to become the food delivery service's largest shareholder. The agreements, however, did not affect eliminating or reducing competition, according to the regulator. It punished Alibaba, Tencent-backed China Literature, and Shenzhen Hive Box each CNY 500,000 in December last year for failing to properly submit earlier transactions for antitrust reviews, the first time it had ever done so.
 

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