Meituan (美團), ByteDance Ltd (字節跳動) and JD.com Inc (京東) were among 12 Chinese technology firms that issued pledges to obey antitrust laws yesterday, a day after Beijing gave the companies one month to conduct internal reviews and comply with Chinese government guidelines.
Pinduoduo Inc (拼多多), Baidu Inc (百度) and Sina Weibo (新浪微博) were also among firms that published their commitments in a statement on the Web site of the Chinese State Administration for Market Regulation.
The antitrust watchdog had summoned 34 companies to a meeting on Tuesday, ordering them to rectify their excesses and issue pledges to operate legally.
Other firms would also issue statements over the next three days, the regulator said, calling on the Chinese public to help monitor the firms and hold them to their word.
The regulator exhorted the tech giants to heed the example of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴), which was fined a record US$2.8 billion following a four-month probe into the e-commerce titan for abuses like forced exclusivity.
Meituan said in its pledge that it would “consciously maintain market order” and “won’t force merchants to ‘pick one of two’ through unreasonable means.”
The food delivery firm offered to work with regulators and said that it accepted social supervision.
Other e-commerce operators including JD.com, Suning.com Co (蘇寧易購) and Vipshop Holdings Ltd (唯品會) also committed to not engage in forced exclusivity, a practice that the regulator criticized for “flagrantly” trampling and destroying market order.
Pinduoduo and Dingdong Maicai (叮咚買菜) — major players in the emerging community e-commerce sector — also pledged to stay away from improper pricing.
ByteDance, owner of hit apps like TikTok and Douyin (抖音), issued a 13-point pledge that included promises to bolster compliance management and avoid contraventions such as abuses of market power, and unlawful mergers and acquisitions.
Meituan shares gained nearly 4 percent and JD.com shares rose more than 2 percent in Hong Kong yesterday, recovering some of their losses from earlier this week.
China’s wide-ranging campaign against its tech leaders has erased billions of US dollars in value from the sector since November last year, when new antitrust laws and regulations on financial technology firms were introduced and regulators launched an offensive against Jack Ma’s (馬雲) empire, including the scuttling of Ant Group Co’s (螞蟻集團) US$35 billion initial public offering.
The 34 firms must undergo “complete rectification” after conducting internal checks and inspections over the next month, and make a pledge to society to obey rules and laws, the regulator said in a statement on Tuesday.
The agency would organize follow-up inspections, and companies that continue to engage in contraventions would be dealt with severely, it said.
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