Another Chinese Regulator Cracks Competition Whip At Big Tech

China tech regulation

China is continuing its crusade to put the regulatory squeeze on Big Tech firms in the country, ordering them to reel in anti-competitive behaviors and threats to data security, among other issues, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Monday (July 26), citing the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

The MIIT is tasked with oversight of the country’s telecommunication standards and regulators said the goal of its rectification program targets a number of troubling problems — the disruption of “market order,” violation of users’ rights, abusing users’ data, and more, per the news outlet. No particular technology firms were mentioned.

“This announcement seems to indicate the MIIT will tackle, among other things, the interoperability and unfair competition issues,” Angela Zhang told the WSJ. 

Zhang is the author of “Chinese Antitrust Exceptionalism” and also is an associate professor of law at the University of Hong Kong. 

“That means that Chinese tech giants will face pressures from yet another regulator,” she added.

The MIIT can hit firms with small penalties as well as order them to remediate the problems, but it doesn’t have the authority of China’s central antitrust agency, Zhang told the news outlet.

Chinese tech firms had been lining up to go public but one by one there has been delay after delay, starting with Ant Group’s pulled $37 billion initial public offering (IPO), TikTok owner ByteDance and others. Chinese regulators said Ant Group is a warning to technology firms that they will be scrutinized.

Ridesharing firm Didi, which went public in the U.S. earlier this month, is undergoing an on-site cybersecurity investigation and could be hit with fines and face being delisted from the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Beijing is also stepping up mandates for any Chinese companies going public in the U.S.