Alibaba being investigated by China over monopoly tactics

BEIJING — Chinese regulators on Thursday announced an anti-monopoly investigation of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, stepping up the ruling Communist Party’s efforts to control fast-growing tech industries.

China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) made the announcement on Thursday. Financial regulators will also meet with Alibaba’s financial technology offshoot Ant Group in the coming days.

Regulators have previously warned Alibaba about forcing merchants to sign exclusive deals which prevent them from offering products on rival platforms.

Thursday’s announcement said the State Administration of Market Regulation is looking into Alibaba’s policy of “choose one of two,” which requires business partners to avoid dealing with its competitors. The one-sentence statement gave no details of possible penalties or a timeline to announce a result.

Also this month, Alibaba and a company spun off by Tencent Holding Ltd. were fined for failing to apply for official approval before proceeding with some acquisitions.

The ruling party also has tightened restrictions on collection and use of customers’ personal information.

On Tuesday, regulators met with executives of Alibaba and five other major Chinese internet companies and warned them not to abuse their dominance to drive out competitors through use of exclusive contracts, predatory pricing and other tactics, according to a statement by the State Administration of Market Regulation.

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