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Chinese Regulators Open Anti-Monopoly Probe Into E-Commerce Giant Alibaba

December 28, 2020

The Chinese government is opening an anti-monopoly investigation into online retail giant Alibaba, a move that signifies Beijing’s increasing efforts to tighten control over the country’s dominant technology sector.

The State Administration for Market Regulation said Thursday the probe will look into the company’s practice of forcing its business partners to choose either Alibaba or a rival competitor, instead of allowing them to sell their merchandise through both outlets.

Alibaba was founded in 1999 by Jack Ma, who has become the richest businessman in China with an estimated net worth of $59 billion. The company is the world’s biggest online retail company and expanded into financial services and other fields.

In a separate announcement, regulators with the People’s Bank of China said Thursday it will meet with officials with the Ant Group, Alibaba’s affiliated financial services company, to discuss issues related to operating in a method that protects the legitimate rights and interests of consumers.

The government surprised the financial world last month when it suspended the Ant Group’s debut as a publicly traded company on Hong Kong and Shanghai exchanges. The initial public offering would have brought in a record-setting $37 billion.

Analysts say Chinese leaders may be targeting Ma because he complained about China’s regulatory system at a business conference in October, accusing it of stifling innovation and blocking opportunities.

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