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China hauls in 13 web giants for ‘supervision interviews’

Tencent, ByteDance, pals invited to meeting without coffee over ‘disorderly expansion of capital’

China has again moved to ensure its web giants don’t prove too disruptive to its economy, hauling 13 of them in for “supervision interviews” with a panel of regulators.

As announced by the Peoples’ Bank of China (PBOC), it and the nation’s Banking Regulatory Commission, Securities Regulatory Commission, State Administration of Foreign Exchange, plus “other financial management departments” all gathered to give the web giants an earful.

Tencent, TikTok developer ByteDance, the finance operation of super-giant e-tailer, and China’s Uber clone Didi, which now also offers vehicle fleet leasing services, were among the companies required to attend.

The bank and other regulators called on the web giants to carry on innovating with financial services, but to do so while obeying all laws that apply to more conventional finance companies.

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“The development of financial business must be based on serving the real economy and preventing financial risks,” the bank said.

All companies that attended, the bank says, heartily agreed to regulators’ suggestions, funnily enough, and left having agreed to “attach great importance to self-inspection and rectification work, under the guidance of financial management departments, fully benchmark financial regulatory requirements, formulate rectification plans, and earnestly implement them.”

The interviews-without-coffee follow China’s sudden cancellation of the float of Ant Group, Alibaba’s finance arm, over fears that its peer-to-peer lending practices would not be good for the economy. Alibaba was then hauled over the coals for restricting access to its e-commerce platforms for brands that had the temerity to sell on rival sites.

The thirteen companies summoned for interview will be well aware of Alibaba’s troubles, and almost certainly keen to avoid similar worries. ®

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