E-commerce giants Alibaba and Meituan accounted for the king’s share of the surging volume of antitrust penalties imposed by Chinese regulators in 2021.
The State Anti-Monopoly Bureau (SAMB) collected 23.6 billion yuan in fines in 2021, for an over 50-fold increase compared to the 450 million in penalties garnered in 2020, according to official data released earlier this week.
While the number of cases closed in 2021 leaped to 175 for a year-on-year rise of 61.5%, the two e-commerce giants of Alibaba and Meituan accounted for the vast majority of the surge in the penalty amount.
Alibaba incurred a record fine of 18.2 billion yuan from China’s antitrust authorities, while Meituan received a fine of 3.4 billion yuan.
The companies incurred the fines for engaging in “pick one of two” business practices – which involve compelling vendors to enter exclusive deals with e-commerce platforms.
A slew of other leading tech companies also incurred antitrust penalties last year for failure to report merger and acquisitions deals, including Tencent, ByteDance and Didi Global.
SAMB stressed the importance of rigorously applying anti-trust measures to China’s internet economy.
“The anti-monopoly regulation of the platform economy sends a strong signal that the internet is not a place outside the law,” said SAMB.
“The rules strongly promote the standardised, orderly, sustainable and healthy development of the platform economy.”