Uber is facing yet another roadblock in its race to further expand within China.
Following a sting operation and the arrest of five drivers, an Uber office in Hong Kong was raided by police today (Aug. 11), The Financial Times reported.
The drivers were arrested under the charges of driving without the required permits and insurance, as well as allegedly accepting fares from undercover police officers.
According to The Financial Times, Hong Kong police are warning citizens to avoid accepting rides from unlicensed services.
But Uber Hong Kong is standing behind its drivers.
“Uber ensures that all rides are covered by insurance and all drivers on the platform undergo an extensive background check,” the company said in a statement provided to The Financial Times. “We stand by our driver-partners 100 percent and welcome the opportunity to work closely with the authorities towards updated regulations that put the safety and interests of riders and drivers first.”
Earlier this year, police raids took place at Uber offices in Chengdu and Guangzhou as part of an ongoing investigation into the company’s operations, according to the Associated Press.
The raid in Guangzhou, which was part of a joint effort from the Guangzhou Transport Commission and police, was also an attempt to investigate car-hire services that are suspected to be operating illegally.
The transportation agency is attempting to crack down on private drivers who are using apps to illegally run their own service without a proper license, local Chinese news sources reported back in May.
“Law enforcement departments have come down hard on such illegal businesses as they disrupt the market and we will not be soft on these activities in the future,” a statement released by the commission explained.
The statement also indicated that three government agencies collected equipment, which included mobile phones, from Uber’s Guangzhou office as part of the investigation.
Not only does Uber continue to battle regulatory agencies both in China and globally, but the company is also facing increasing competition in the country.
Just last month, Didi Kuaidi, the chief Chinese ride-sharing competitor to Uber, announced it raised $2 billion in new funding. Though it dominates the traditional taxi market, with increasing competition from Uber on peer-to-peer shared rides, Didi is reportedly looking to longer-term goals beyond its 3 million daily ride tally.