China: Our big tech companies are hiring, not shrinking

Please dismiss any thoughts you had that increasing regulation might have hurt the economy

China's Cyberspace Administration has published statistics to assert that the nation's big technology companies are growing and not laying off thousands of workers.

A Friday post by the Administration (CAC) revealed that from July 2021 to mid-March 2021, a dozen of China's top tech companies increased their collective payrolls by 79,100 people. The post names Tencent, Alibaba, ByteDance, Meituan, Pinduoduo, Kuaishou, Baidu, JD.com, NetEase, Weibo, Bilibili and Ant Group, and says all but one increased overall headcount.

The announcement then offers short summaries of interviews the CAC has conducted with some of the companies mentioned above. All tell tales of re-alignments to catch shifting markets and consumer behaviour.

"In the face of the impact of the epidemic, complex external situations and fierce industry competition, some companies took the initiative to respond, increased technological innovation, recruited high-level talents, focused on improving their core competitiveness, and took various measures to stabilize the existing workforce," the post states.

The document is sprinkled with references to hiring technical people, in case readers wonder if the hiring spree involves lower-skilled jobs.

The document appeared after weeks of reports that China's big tech companies have laid off tens of thousands of workers – some in response to regulations Beijing has imposed on digital businesses.

China's current five-year plan has made increasing quantity and sophistication of digital services a key element of the nation's growth plans, even as big online players are required to rein in unsavory or unpatriotic elements of online life. China has also acted to ensure its big tech players don't get so big that they pose a risk to central economic planning. Derailing Alibaba subsidiary Ant Group's IPO over fears its person-to-person lending service could prove too disruptive stands as the prime example of Beijing's willingness to intervene.

On the flipside, it simply would not do to have reports suggesting regulatory changes have in any way had unintended consequences.

The CAC's post makes the point that any travails experienced by China's big tech companies stem from the market – not Beijing.

So move along, nothing to see here – other than Chinese success stories displaying agility as they reinvent themselves in real time while showing not a moment of weakness or doubt. ®

Bootnote China's e-tail giant JD.com last week made one very notable hire: founder Richard Liu stepped down suddenly and named Lei Xu as the company's new CEO. Xu was already company president.

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