Twelve Chinese tech companies publicly pledged to obey the country’s antitrust laws just days after government regulators slapped a RM11.5 billion fine on Alibaba. The firms that made the pledge include big names such as Meituan, ByteDance, JD.com, Baidu, Sina Weibo, and Pinduoduo.
On Tuesday, China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) summoned 34 firms to a meeting and ordered them to rectify their monopolistic practices, Bloomberg reported. Not one for subtlety, the regulatory agency directed the companies’ attention to the example of Alibaba – penalised for making merchants sell exclusively on its platform.
Food delivery giant Meituan promised to “consciously maintain market order” and not force merchants into exclusivity arrangements “through unreasonable means.” ByteDance, which owns hyper-popular TikTok, made a 13-point pledge, vowing among other things to avoid anticompetitive behavior and unlawful mergers and acquisitions.
In recent months, Beijing has embarked on a wide-ranging crackdown on domestic tech firms ostensibly because of their market power abuses. “The base line of policies cannot be crossed, the red line of laws cannot be touched,” the SAMR firmly declared on Tuesday.
The agency said that more companies would be making pledges over the next three days. The firms have been given a month to conduct internal reviews and ensure compliance with the law. Naturally, the SAMR is promising follow-up inspections and severe consequences for companies that continue to break the rules.