The Chinese authorities have imposed a fine of $ 2.8 billion on Alibaba after completing an antitrust investigation that analyzed alleged monopolistic practices. The State Administration for Market Regulation launched an investigation into the e-commerce giant’s “suspected monopolistic conduct” in December, particularly its policy that forces merchants to sell exclusively on its platforms and prevents them from selling on e-commerce websites. rivals. In a statement posted on the watchdog’s website, it said its investigation showed that the policy eliminated and restricted competition in the country and hampered innovation in the online retail platform sector.
As a result of that conclusion, the regulator sanctioned the company in accordance with China’s antitrust law, ordering it to stop its illegal activities and pay a fine equal to 4 percent of its domestic sales in the country. What The New York Times notes that the $ 2.8 billion fine will not jeopardize Alibaba’s finances, but it exceeds the $ 975 million fine the Chinese government imposed on Qualcomm in 2015 for violating antitrust law. In a statement sent to NYT, Alibaba said it would accept the sanction and make sure it “better discharges its social responsibilities.”
China began keeping a closer eye on tech giants last year, with lawmakers proposing an update to the antitrust law to add rules specifically for them. Jack Ma’s businesses, in particular, appear to have become a target in his home country after he called Chinese banks “state pawnshops” for making unnecessary loans during a financial summit. Its executives even had to form a task force to deal with regulators on a daily basis.
Aside from Alibaba’s antitrust investigation, the Shanghai Stock Exchange blocked the planned initial public offering for Ant Group, the financial services company he founded, in November. Before the year was out, regulators ordered the company to “go back to its roots” as a payments provider and shut down the investment, loan, insurance and wealth management services it introduced over the years.