News: Analysis: China delivers on threats to rein in internet economy.
(Reuters) – Chinese live streaming e-commerce was scrutinized on Tuesday. On Thursday it was “deepfakes”. Earlier this month, the Chinese authorities fined operators of community group shopping platforms.
Beijing is doing well with its threats to contain the sprawling “platform economy,” and President Xi Jinping ponders the importance of containing giants that dominate the country’s consumer sector.
The drumbeat of warnings, fines, and de-platformings from Chinese digital heavyweights began with the $ 37 billion IPO of Ant Group last year and has expanded industry-wide, hurting stock prices and causing some operators to take preventive measures before being punished.
“With the rapid development of the digital economy, people’s lives are inextricably linked to Internet platforms,” the official China Daily wrote on Thursday.
“However, after conquering the market, some platforms have given up their social responsibility and are trying to monopolize the sector by becoming” slaves “of capital.”
Chinese internet giants, led by Billionaire Jack Ma’s Alibaba as well as Tencent, ByteDance and a handful of others, built immense scale and market power in an era of laissez-faire treatment that ended dramatically with the listing of Alibaba subsidiary Ant in November on.
This was followed by a string of fines against companies that failed to submit previous acquisitions for antitrust reviews, as well as an antitrust investigation of Alibaba and its “one-on-two” practice of forcing vendors to sell products only to an e-commerce site.
The dynamic has increased.
On Friday, China’s market regulator fined 12 companies, including Baidu Inc, Tencent and Didi Chuxing, for violating anti-monopoly rules with over 10 deals.
On Monday evening, Alibaba’s UC browser, which has more than 400 million active users per month, was shamed on state television’s annual consumer rights show for advertising advertisements from unqualified medical companies. UC apologized, but the app disappeared from the Chinese Android app stores.
This was followed by a Monday meeting chaired by Xi, which warned of the risks of the “irregular” development of some platforms.
“The platform economy is not fully developed and flawed, and we have a big problem with the regulatory system failing to cope with this problem,” said an ad from the official Xinhua news agency.
According to sources, this week Alibaba plans to move its low-cost Taobao retail service to Tencent’s ubiquitous WeChat messaging app, which Taobao has been blocking access through since 2013. The move comes as Alibaba is under regulatory pressure and facing a growing challenge from Tencent-. supports Pinduoduo.
Alibaba did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
“There are millions of traders in the platform economy in China, and big platforms are squeezing more profits out of them. Therefore, it makes sense for regulators to weigh and protect their interests, ”said Li Chengdong, a Beijing resident Tech- and e-commerce analyst.
On Thursday, China’s internet watchdog said it had asked eleven companies, including Alibaba, Tencent and ByteDance, to discuss “deepfakes,” which use artificial intelligence to create hyper-realistic but fake videos or audios of a person seeming to say or do something that she has not done.
It also called on companies to “conduct safety assessments themselves” and identify new features or services that “have the ability to mobilize society”. This is an obvious indication of the rise in Chinese copycats from the US audio app Clubhouse censors blocked by Chinese in early February.
Reuters reported last month that Chinese tech giants were on the rise, expecting action to expand.
Liu Xingliang, a member of a technology committee chaired by the Ministry of Industry and Information, said the platform companies have grown too big and forced the government to act.
“It’s a long fight and more action can be expected,” he told Reuters.
Reporting by Tony Munroe, Josh Horwitz, Pei Li, Yingzhi Yang, Sophie Yu and Cheng Leng; Editing by Shri Navaratnam
Original Source © Reuters