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China tech

China fines Tencent and Baidu as online crackdown widens

Internet giants hit with $77,000 penalties for failing to report acquisitions

Tencent and Baidu are among 12 companies that have been hit with fines for making acquisitions without filing the proper paperwork, China's antimonopoly watchdog says.   © AP

SHANGHAI -- Chinese regulators fined 12 companies including Tencent and Baidu for having made acquisitions without notifying authorities, saying the moves violate antimonopoly rules.

The crackdown is the latest in a series of decisions by the antimonopoly watchdog aimed at tightening control over major internet companies in China.

The 12 companies have been fined 500,000 yuan ($76,840) each, the State Administration for Market Regulation said.

According to the regulators, Tencent failed to notify them about its acquisition of Yuanfudao, an online tutoring platform, in 2018. Tencent invested 1.6 billion yuan in the company.

In another example, Baidu acquired a majority stake in an artificial intelligence company in 2020 without reporting the transaction, the authorities said.

A unit of ride-hail service operator Didi Chuxing set up a joint venture in Japan with SoftBank in 2018 but did not file a report, the authorities said. The regulators also punished Intime Retail, a department store chain affiliated with the Alibaba Group.

China's antimonopoly law requires companies to file reports when they make an acquisition or set up a joint venture. Previously, the authorities turned a blind eye to those that failed to take this step.

Other examples of regulatory action include online retailer Pinduoduo and online meal-ordering service Meituan being fined for improper pricing practices. In December, the authorities launched a probe into Alibaba over alleged violations of the anti-monopoly law.

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