ANTITRUST

Google Faces Looming Chinese Antitrust Probe

Google app and Chinese flag

Google’s global antitrust headaches are escalating.

China is preparing to launch an investigation into whether Alphabet Inc.’s Google has used its hold over the Android mobile operating system to suppress competition, Reuters reports, citing two sources.

The potential antitrust probe in China comes as authorities in India weigh their own investigation into Google’s promotion of its mobile payment app, and in the wake as well of a 2018 European Union probe that fined Google $5.1 billion for anti-competitive practices.

“China will also look at what other countries have done, including holding inquiries with Google executives,” one of the sources told Reuters.

Chinese authorities may decide as soon as October whether to plunge ahead with an investigation into the American tech giant, with the state of relations between China and the U.S. likely to be an influential factor, the news service reported, citing one source.

Tensions between the two countries have intensified in recent months amid an attempted crackdown by the Trump Administration on Chinese tech companies, including telecom equipment giant Huawei and ByteDance and its short video-sharing app TikTok.

The potential antitrust case now being weighed by authorities in China was first proposed by Huawei last year.

The State Council’s antitrust review panel is now poised to examine the case, which was forwarded by China’s market regulator, the State Administration for Market Regulation, Reuters reports, citing sources.

Google declined immediate comment, Huawei declined to comment, while State Administration for Market Regulation, and the State Council “did not immediately respond to requests for comment,” according to the news outlet.

A potential flashpoint for the dispute may stem from the U.S. trade blacklist targeting Huawei. Under the trade ban, Google can’t provide technical support of new Huawei phones or access to Google Mobile services, Reuters reports.

A probe, in turn, might look at the potential for serious damage to Huawei from the loss of Google’s support for Android operating systems in Huawei phones, one of the two sources told the news outlet.

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