Beijing (AP) – Chinese Regulators on Thursday announced an anti-monopoly investigation by e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, intensifying official efforts to tighten control over China’s fast-growing tech industries.
The market regulator said it was looking into Alibaba’s policy to “choose one of two”, which requires trading partners to avoid dealing with competitors. The one-sentence statement provided no details of the possible penalty or timeline for declaring the result.
Chinese leaders said that in the first coming year an economic priority would be to promote anti-monopoly enforcement. They are particularly concerned about tightening control over Alibaba and other major Internet companies that are expanding into finance, healthcare and other businesses.
Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma, is China’s richest entrepreneur and one of the country’s most famous figures.
Regulators previously suspended Ant Group’s stock market debut, which spun off Alibaba from an online finance platform.
A separate announcement on Thursday said that Ant officials were called to meet with regulators.
Alibaba, the world’s largest e-commerce company by total sales volume, and another company were fined in mid-December for failing to apply for official approval before proceeding with some acquisitions.
In November, the government released proposed regulations aimed at curbing competitive competitive behavior by Internet companies such as signing exclusive contracts and using subsidies to squeeze out their rivals.
A similar push is taking place in the US, specifically targeting advertising. Lawmakers and regulators are investigating companies like Facebook and Google over anti-competitive practices.
Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission accused Facebook of buying rather than competing with its rivals and calling Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram worthless.
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