China takes steps to ease up on regulatory crackdown as economy slows

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FILE PHOTO: Illustration picture of Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi

(Reuters) – Chinese authorities imposed a $1.2 billion fine on ride-hailing firm Didi Global Inc, a move that signalled an end to a year-long probe into the ride-hailing firm’s cybersecurity practices.

Here is a timeline of key events underscoring the easing of China’s regulatory crackdown since the beginning of this year:

Feb. 10: China’s cyberspace watchdog said it had held a symposium with domestic technology giants in January which had given the industry a “clearer understanding” of how to pursue development and confidence amid a new regulatory landscape.

March 16: Vice-Premier Liu He, China’s economic tsar, urged the introduction of market-friendly policies to support the economy and expressed caution about measures that risked hurting markets. The comments boosted battered shares in China and Hong Kong.

April 11: China’s gaming regulator granted publishing licences for 45 games from developers including Baidu Inc and XD Inc, ending a nine-month freeze.

April 29: China’s powerful Politburo, in a meeting chaired by President Xi Jinping, said it will step up policy support for the economy, including its so-called platform economy – referring to internet platforms such as online marketplaces.

May 15: Chinese financial authorities allowed a further cut in mortgage loan interest rates for some home buyers, in another push to prop up its property market and revive a flagging engine of the world’s second-largest economy.

May 16: Authorities asked three financially healthy major private Chinese property developers to issue bonds to help boost market sentiment, two people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

May 24: Financial regulators pledged to keep credit growth stable in the property sector and help home buyers affected by COVID-19 outbreaks to defer mortgage payments, the central bank said in a statement.

May 17: Vice-Premier Liu told a meeting convened by China’s top political consultative body that the government supported the development of the technology sector and public listings for such companies. Tech executives who attended the meeting included founders of search engine company Baidu and mobile security software maker 360 Security Technology Inc, known as Qihoo 360.

June 7: China’s gaming regulator granted publishing licences for 60 games.

June 8: Reuters reported, citing sources, that Didi is in talks with state-backed Sinomach Automobile Co Ltd to buy a third of its electric vehicle unit, signalling the ride-hailer’s regulatory troubles are in the rear view mirror as it focuses on growth.

June 9: The government gave tentative approval for Ant Group, an affiliate of e-commerce behemoth Alibaba, to revive its initial public offering in Shanghai and Hong Kong, two people told Reuters, the biggest sign yet of a cooling of Beijing’s tough stance on the technology sector.

June 29: China allowed apps belonging to online recruitment services company Kanzhun Ltd <BZ.O and logistics platform Full Truck Alliance Co – Yunmanman and Huochebang – to resume new user registrations.

Chinese authorities launched cybersecurity reviews into Full Truck Alliance and Kanzhun alongside Didi in July last year.

July 21: China fines Didi $1.2 billion for violating laws including that pertaining to personal information protection and also levels fines against its founder and president, saying they were responsible for these violations.

(Reporting by Selena Li in Hong Kong; editing by Christopher Cushing and Jason Neely)

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