In a rare meeting with officials, Communist Party leaders have doubled down on support for China’s tech sector, as Beijing shifts its stance to an industry it had suppressed until the virus rebounded.
China – the last major global economy to stick to a rigid zero-Covid policy – is facing an economic slowdown due to prolonged virus lockdowns that have disrupted supply chains, stoked demand and halted manufacturing.
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This appears to have prompted a softer approach towards the giant, money-spinning tech sector, after being prompted by 18 months of fears that its giant Internet companies control too much data and too fast. are expanded.
The Chinese public’s ubiquitous use of apps that streamline payments with everyday necessities from transportation and shopping has contributed to China’s so-called “platform economy” – which consists of brisk commerce in digital spaces controlled by tech giants.
Vice Premier Liu He and other communist leaders addressed officials including Robin Li of Baidu – used universally for its search engine and mapping service – and Zhou Hongyi of Internet security firm Qihoo 360, state media reported on Tuesday. Reported late at night.
According to state broadcaster CCTV, Liu offered support for the “sustainable and healthy development of the platform economy and the private economy”.
CCTV reported that he also vowed to “support digital firms that list on domestic and foreign capital markets”.
Under the tech crackdown, overseas IPOs of Alibaba’s Ant Group and Didi Chuxing – China’s Uber – were summarily extended, while the tech giants were fined millions of dollars over anti-trust and data breaches.
China’s economic data is increasingly pointing to the dismal results of Beijing’s zero-Covid policy.
On Monday, the country said retail sales and factory output had fallen to the lowest figures since the start of the pandemic, while unemployment had returned to its February 2020 peak.
Chinese tech stocks rose in late April after officials voiced support for Internet firms at a Politburo meeting.
Tech giants including Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu were marginally lower on Wednesday morning, with e-commerce behemoth JD reporting a 3 billion yuan ($444m) loss in first-quarter earnings, down more than 4 percent.
Read more: Shanghai lets financial institutions resume work as COVID-19 curbs ease