With new regulatory moves, China tells tech giants to stop blocking rival links


Beijing — China fired a new regulatory shot at the tech giant on Monday, ending the long-standing practice of blocking each other’s links on their site or telling them to face the consequences.

Comments made by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) in a news briefing show the latest steps in cracking down on a wide range of regulations on some of Beijing’s largest companies.

China’s Internet is dominated by a handful of tech giants who have historically blocked rival links and services on the platform.

Restricting normal access to Internet links without good reason “affects the user experience, undermines user rights and disrupts market order,” said MIIT spokesman Zhao Zhiguo, the ministry said. He added that he has received reports and complaints from users since he began reviewing the industry. July practice.

“Currently, we are instructing affiliates to carry out self-diagnosis and correction,” he said, citing the instant messaging platform as one of the areas they first targeted.

He did not identify the consequences for companies that did not follow the new guidelines.

MIIT did not appoint any company, but the 21st Century Business Herald was among the companies that Alibaba Group Holdings and Tencent Holdings were told to end their practices by an unspecified time last week on Saturday. I reported that.

Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings shares fell 6% and more than 3% on Monday, compared to a 3% drop in the Hang Seng Index.

General method

It is common to remove the URLs of competitors that are subject to MIIT.

Tencent restricts users from sharing content from ByteDance’s short video app Douyin on Tencent’s instant messaging apps WeChat and QQ. In February, Douyin filed a complaint in a Beijing court alleging that it constitutes an exclusive action. Tencent calls those accusations groundless.

Otherwise, 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 endorsed MIIT’s guidance and said it would make the necessary changes in stages. Alibaba said it would comply with MIIT requirements and “we were looking forward to finding something in common with other platforms.”

In a statement, ByteDance called on “all Internet platforms to make no excuses, clarify timetables, and proactively implement them to provide users with a secure, reliable and convenient network.” Said.

Michael Norris, Research and Strategy Manager at Shanghai-based consultancy Agency China, said:

“In the short term, all attention will be directed to Tencent to understand the implications of opening WeChat to Alibaba and ByteDance,” he said.

MIIT also said on Monday that China has “too many” electric vehicle (EV) makers and the government will encourage integration.

Brenda Go and Shenyang