Rising political tensions between the US and China spilling over to companies, including tech giants, isn’t new anymore. And we may just have yet another tech giant falling into those cracks. As US continues to build pressure over Chinese tech, China has now stepped up the rhetoric on its end as well. According to a report from Reuters, China is set to conduct an antitrust investigation into Google, sources close to the development have said.
Chinese authority will probe into allegations if the American giant is using its market dominance through Android to suppress competition in China. These allegations were brought up by Huawei Technolgy last year and was further submitted for review to the State Council’s antitrust committee, by the State Administration for Market Regulation.
Huawei’s actions can be credited to the US orders that directed Google to pull out its services and support to devices made by the Chinese smartphone giant. Huawei reported huge losses after breaking up with Google and was almost forced to launch its own operating system, the HarmonyOS. The OS is yet to achieve anything significant in terms of general consumer usage.
One of the sources further added, that Google’s current market position in China and losing its support is causing ‘extreme damage’ to Huawei and is resulting in a loss of confidence and revenue for the Chinese firm. The source added that China’s probe might take a look at this matter through that particular angle.
This fresh big case comes at a time when China is changing its antitrust laws. It is making amendments to the existing laws, escalating the maximum fines and additional criteria of judging a company’s control over the market.
China would also be looking at what Europe and India did during their investigations in regards to Google suspicious operations in the respective regions. In 2018, the European Union had fined the search engine giant $5.1 billion for conducting anti-competitive practices. Google was accused of forcing smartphone makers in the European region to pre-install Google apps and blocked any other competitive apps or search engines.
A similar case was filed in India, where accusations were made that Google is using its dominant market position to force its payments app over others. India’s technology unicorns, led by digital payments giant Paytm, are also drumming up fresh support for increased regulations over Google. Google had recently taken down Paytm’s core app from its App store, citing violation of its gambling rules, a decision that was controversial to its very core.
A source said China would like to take inspiration from Europe’s example where the fine was imposed based on Google’s global revenues instead of its local revenues.
The news of a potential probe into an American entity by China comes after the US administration has put several Chinese firms into the trash. The Trump-led government has already banned WeChat, is in process of divesting TikTok and has blacklisted the Chinese smartphone giant, Huawei.