ExplainerTimeline: how Didi went from poster child for China tech to cautionary tale of the risks incurred by defying Beijing
- In July last year, China’s cyberspace watchdog initiated an unprecedented probe into Didi on the grounds of data security and ‘national security’
- On top of the US$1.2 billion fine imposed on the company this month, Didi executives Will Cheng Wei and Jean Liu Qing were fined 1 million yuan each
China’s cyberspace regulator on Thursday imposed a fine of 8.026 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion) on Didi Global, the country’s ride-hailing giant, for violations of data laws, putting an end to a year-long investigation into the Beijing-based company.
Here is a timeline of how in the space of one year Didi went from being a poster child of China’s technology industry in the eyes of global investors to a cautionary tale of what can happen if a company gets on the wrong side of Beijing’s regulatory crackdown.
30/06/2021 – Didi launches a successful IPO in New York
However, Didi skipped the usual celebrations and public relations campaigns that went along with a successful mega-IPO, stirring murmurs.
02/07/2021 – China announces cybersecurity probe into Didi
04/07/2021 – Didi’s main app is removed from the app store
09/07/2021 – Didi angers Beijing with ‘deliberate act of deceit’
10/07/2021 – Dozens of Didi-related apps removed from app store
The CAC also prohibited websites and platforms from providing links to Didi-related services. The 25 apps were ordered to “thoroughly rectify the existing problems in strict accordance with the requirements of the law and according to national standards”.
16/07/2021 – Government task force begins on-site investigation of Didi
Other departments involved in the on-site inspection included the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR), the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ministry of Transport, and the State Administration of Taxation.
29/07/2021 – Didi denies privatisation report
06/08/2021 – Didi denies market reports of data transfer
Didi said on Weibo that market rumours that it transferred data rights to third parties, introduced new major shareholders, and was planning to delist, were false. This was in response to Reuters reports saying that the company was in talks with state-owned information security firm Westone to handle its data management, and that it planned to bring in new shareholders or delist its shares.
04/09/2021 – Didi denies reports of Beijing-led investment
07/09/2021 – Didi sets up security committee
21/09/2021 – Didi denies reports of co-founder Jean Liu leaving
03/12/2021 – Didi announces plans to delist from New York
12/01/2022 – Didi in talks for IPO in Hong Kong
11/03/2022 – Didi puts Hong Kong listing plan on hold
04/05/2022 – Didi faces SEC probe over New York IPO
23/05/2022 – Didi shareholder meeting approves delisting plan
12/06/2022 – Didi shares start trading on over-the-counter market
21/07/2022 – Regulator announces Didi fine and probe results