Xinhua reported that, on April 29, four financial regulatory agencies including the People’s Bank of China, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, the China Securities Regulatory Commission, and the Administration of Foreign Exchange summoned 13 top online financing companies including Tencent and Meituan Finance.
Chinese economists and scholars told Radio Free Asia that these online financial companies bypassed China’s banking system to serve small to mid-size customers and self-employed individuals and have become a threat to traditional banking financing channels. The meeting was meant to warn these companies that Beijing has formed a plan to take over these private online financing companies. Other internet companies like Taobao, We Chat and QQ are not only a trading platform but they also draw large numbers of users. Therefore they would be the next target. One commentator told RFA, “Beijing will be very nervous and vigilant about such a platform and force that can connect with or and even unite the people. So, it needs to have a more a comprehensive and thorough control.” These take-overs will not only benefit the state-owned banks but also control public opinion and limit the development of the private economy.
According to official statistics, WeChat users now exceed 1.2 billion, Taobao has over 800 million, and QQ has close to 600 million. After Beijing issued an antitrust fine of more than 18 billion (US$2.78 billion) against Alibaba not long ago, it immediately demanded that, within a specified time limit, 34 online companies including Tencent, JD.com, ByteDance, Baidu, and Meituan conduct an internal restructuring.
Source: Radio Free Asia, April 30, 2021