CHINA - Tech Powerhouses Reined In

K. Farmer

The Chinese government announced a sweeping new regulatory framework for the online education industry, which it said had been “hijacked by capital,” then said online food platforms must ensure workers make at least the local minimum income. This gutted share prices of delivery giant Meituan, which was already facing an investigation into alleged monopolistic behavior. In separate statements in recent months, Alibaba, Didi, and Meituan have said they’d cooperate with authorities and work to enhance their compliance systems.

The government’s clampdown signals a new era of harsher oversight that companies won’t be able to avoid by registering in the Caymans or hiring in California. The world’s two largest economies seem headed down different paths as they grapple with the sprawling power that private tech companies have amassed. The authoritarian tinge is a risky pivot to some in and around the Chinese tech industry—and others see a chance for the country to gain an edge against its main geopolitical rival. “China is actually taking the lead in setting some boundaries around the power of Big Tech,” says Thomas Tsao, co-founder of Gobi Partners, a venture capital firm based in Shanghai. “People are missing the bigger picture. They’re trying a new model.”

Angela Zhang, director of Hong Kong University’s Centre for Chinese Law and the author of Chinese Antitrust Exceptionalism, says the intervention will reshape the tech industry in China faster than it could happen elsewhere. “The case against Alibaba took the Chinese antitrust authority only four months to complete, whereas it will take years for U.S. and EU regulators to go after tech firms such as Facebook, Google, and Amazon, who are ready to fight tooth and nail,” she says.

-www.bloomberg.com, 27 July 2021

Commentary

China is moving full steam ahead to becoming the world leader in technology, despite remaining a communist country. Actually, the government clampdown on monopolistic tech giants has its positives: “online food platforms must ensure workers make at least the local minimum income.” Another positive mentioned is these corporations no longer being able to avoid oversight by registering in areas with lax regulation such as the Cayman Islands. China’s ability to move quickly on regulating these companies contrasts with the US and EU, where “it will take years…to go after tech firms such as Facebook, Google, and Amazon…”

Part of the article not quoted above states:

So-called super apps, including Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat and Alibaba’s Alipay…handle everything from on-demand transportation to food delivery to paying utility bills—there’s nothing comparable in the U.S. These days, Apple, Facebook, and Snapchat are racing to mimic features of these and other Chinese apps, instead of the other way around.

Gone are the days when the US could claim to stand alone at the forefront of technology. China has quickly caught up and even surpassed the US in many areas.

All this is leading toward a more egalitarian world, which falls in line with Bible prophecy. Formerly dominant countries will have to come down a peg, while nations once considered third world are rising to become on par or even to surpass Western democracies. As Scripture states in reference to the final 10 kings (or kingdoms), “These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast” (Revelation 17:13). (By K. Farmer)

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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