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China tech

Tencent spent more than Alibaba on startups in 2020

Minority stakes have helped avoid scrutiny from Beijing but this may change

China's two big internet groups, Tencent and Alibaba, are facing increased regulatory pressure. (Source photos by Kosaku Mimura and Kei Higuchi) 

TOKYO/SHANGHAI -- Chinese Internet powerhouse Tencent Holdings outspent Alibaba Group Holding in investments in startups during 2020, forking out more than $12 billion to buy shares in 163 businesses across a wide range of industries.

Tencent became the biggest spender on startups among China's nonfinancial companies under an aggressive, but carefully designed growth strategy that was driven by making loose partnerships cemented by capital ties. But Beijing's moves to step up efforts to monitor and control its big tech groups could test the viability of the strategy.

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