China publishes draft competitiveness policies for on the internet platforms

BEIJING/SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s marketplace regulator on Tuesday posted draft policies aimed at avoiding monopolistic actions by world-wide-web platforms, in a go that will boost scrutiny on the country’s e-commerce marketplaces and payment companies.

China’s Point out Administration for Industry Regulation (SAMR), which issued the draft, mentioned it preferred to protect against platforms from dominating the sector or from adopting strategies aimed at blocking fair level of competition.

The definitions it supplied for world-wide-web platforms mean the new guidelines could utilize to e-commerce internet sites, these as Alibaba Group’s Taobao and Tmall marketplaces or <9618.HK> , as very well as payment providers like Ant Group’s <688688.SS> <6688.HK> Alipay or Tencent Holding’s <0700.HK> WeChat Pay back.

The draft guidelines would also take into consideration whether a transaction treats distinct clients in distinct techniques primarily based on major info, payment potential, consumption preferences, and use behavior, according to the assertion from SAMR.

They appear after China’s Monetary Balance and Progress Committee, a cabinet-degree system headed by Vice Premier Liu He, very last month flagged the require to increase mechanisms to guarantee fair competitiveness and referred to as for the strengthening of anti-monopoly law enforcement.

The shift also comes soon after the shock suspension final week of the planned $37 billion share market place listing of Ant Group, not prolonged following regulators warned the firm its worthwhile online lending small business confronted tighter federal government scrutiny.

The draft principles issued on Tuesday would search to avert e-commerce procedures these as “decide on a single among two”, underneath which a market restricts models from advertising on many platforms.

A range of rivals and retailers have accused tech huge Alibaba Corp <9988.HK> of previously adopting these types of methods on its platforms. Last year, SAMR called much more than 20 platforms to a assembly to talk to them to halt demanding retailers to indicator exclusive cooperation agreements.

SAMR is looking for testimonials and feedback from the community towards the draft regulations right until Nov. 30.

(Reporting by Sophie Yu, Cheng Leng and Brenda Goh editing by Richard Pullin)