BEIJING: China fired a new regulatory shot at its tech giants on Monday, asking them to end the long-standing practice of blocking each other’s links on their sites, or face the consequences.
The comments, made by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) at a news briefing, mark the latest move in Beijing’s wider regulatory clampdown on some of the country’s biggest companies.
China’s Internet is dominated by a handful of technology giants that have historically had links and services blocked by rivals on their platforms.
MIIT spokesman Zhao Zhiguo said restricting general access to Internet links without reasonable reason “affects user experience, harms users’ rights and disrupts market order.” practice in July
“We are currently guiding relevant companies to self-examine and improve,” he said, citing instant messaging platforms as one of the first areas they were targeting.
He did not specify what the consequences would be for companies failing to comply with the new guidelines.
MIIT did not name any companies, but the 21st Century Business Herald newspaper reported on Saturday that Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Tencent Holdings Ltd were among the firms that were asked to end the practice by an unspecified time last week. was said.
Shares of Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings were down 6 per cent and 3 per cent, respectively, on Monday, compared to 3 per cent fall in the Hang Seng Tech index.
It is common practice by MIITs to remove targeted competitor URLs.
Tencent restricts users from sharing content on Tencent’s instant messaging app WeChat and QQ from ByteDance-owned short video app Douyin. In February, Douyin filed a complaint in a Beijing court saying it was monopolistic behavior. Tencent has called those allegations baseless.
In other cases, Alibaba’s Taobao and Tmall e-commerce marketplaces do not allow Tencent’s payment service WeChat Pay to be used as a payment option.
Tencent said it supports MIIT’s guidance and will make necessary changes in phases. Alibaba said it will comply with MIIT requirements and “looks forward to finding common ground with other platforms.”
ByteDance called on all Internet platforms to take action, make excuses, clarify timetables, and proactively implement them to provide users with a secure, reliable and convenient network.
Michael Norris, research and strategy manager at Shanghai-based consultancy agency China, said, “Forced cracks in China’s walled city have the potential to rewrite China’s digital advertising and e-commerce landscape.
“In the short term, all eyes will be on Tencent because of what it means to open up WeChat to Alibaba and ByteDance,” he said.
MIIT also said on Monday that there are “too many” electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers in China and that the government would encourage consolidation.
by Brenda Goh and Shane Yano
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times