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Pony Ma Huateng, CEO of Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings, is among several tech bosses who have voiced support for Beijing’s efforts to control the internet industry. Photo: AFP

China tech bosses hail Beijing’s guidance after year of regulatory storm

  • Tencent’s Pony Ma and Alibaba’s Daniel Zhang, among others, pledged allegiance to the state’s policy direction, China’s internet watchdog says
  • ByteDance China chairman Zhang Lidong vowed to explore the global market and compete against international companies

Bosses of major Chinese tech companies, including Tencent Holdings’ Pony Ma Huateng and Alibaba Group Holding’s Daniel Zhang Yong, applauded Beijing’s latest tech policy guidelines delivered at a symposium last month, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) announced on Thursday.

Ma, founder and chief executive of social media and gaming giant Tencent, conducted a study session of the ideas shared in the symposium, which was organised to promote the “healthy and sustainable development of internet companies”, according to a statement published by the CAC.

China urges orderly development of capital as it stresses stability

“Ma said he once again felt the care and attention that the Communist Party’s Central Committee, State Council, and all levels of the government have paid towards the development of the internet industry,” the statement said.

“Tencent will continue to respond to the needs of the state, insist on the use of technology for good, promote the innovation of the social value of sustainability, improve the quality and efficiency of deepening reforms, and become better and stronger through regulated development.”

Meanwhile, Alibaba chairman Zhang said that regulations are created for the purpose of “healthier development”, and compliance is a precondition for business growth, according to the statement. The e-commerce giant, which was fined 18 billion yuan (US$2.8 billion) last year over antitrust violations, promised to provide better services to merchants on its platforms and roll out measures to assist small businesses.

(Alibaba is the owner of the South China Morning Post.)

The CAC symposium, which took place on January 28, brought together executives from 27 Big Tech firms in China, as well as representatives from the country’s economic planning agency, market regulator, and industry ministry.

Business leaders were assured that Beijing supports the “healthy and sustainable” development of internet companies, the CAC said, but they must hold “correct views” of the country’s strengthened rules and “proactively adapt to” the new regulatory environment.

Under Beijing’s forceful clampdown, China’s tech giants fell in line

China’s disciplining of tech giants, which began at the end of 2020, wiped trillions of dollars of market value from company stocks and cast a shadow over the business prospects of the industry. Still, Big Tech bosses in the country have rushed to voice support and allegiance to the state, according to the CAC.

Zhang Lidong, chairman of ByteDance China, said the symposium provided the company with “a better sense of direction”, the CAC said.

The unicorn will “actively explore the global market, and use its products and services to compete against large international companies,” Zhang was quoted as saying.

Xu Lei, president of e-commerce giant, said the company would strengthen compliance, show its responsibility as a major enterprise, and “take concrete actions to repay the party and the state”, according to the CAC.

The agency said that executives from smartphone maker Xiaomi and cybersecurity solutions provider 360 DigiTech also hailed the country’s internet policies.

Once seen as golden ticket, China’s Big Tech scene has been battered in 2021

After over a year of intense regulatory crackdown on the tech industry, authorities have largely turned their attention towards promoting a slew of new regulations and laws.

The Data Security Law and Personal Information Protection Law both went into effect last year, placing legal restrictions on how personal data can be collected, used, and managed.