E-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding and on-demand service platform operator Meituan together contributed 92 per cent of the antitrust fines handed out in China last year, according to an annual report published this week by the State Anti-Monopoly Bureau.
Authorities collected 23.6 billion yuan (US$3.53 billion) in antitrust fines in 2021, about 52 times the 450 million yuan received in 2020, according to the report.
The hefty increase came mainly from two sources – the unprecedented 18.2 billion yuan fine given to Alibaba for its monopolistic practices, and a 3.4 billion yuan fine given to Meituan over similar misconduct.
The watchdog said it closed 175 cases last year, a jump of 61.5 per cent from a year earlier, when the antitrust bureau was still an internal department within the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR).
The antitrust investigations on China’s Big Tech firms and their corresponding fines formed a major part of Beijing’s regulatory crackdown that was meant to curb the “irrational expansion of capital” in the tech sector.
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