China’s Xi vows tighter oversight of tech firms, digital economy

President ordered better regulation of the country’s technology sector, underscoring the intense scrutiny and upheaval faced by Chinese internet giants following their rapid growth.

Improved oversight would help take advantage of the transformation happening in the tech industry, Xinhua reported Tuesday, citing Xi at a meeting of Communist Party officials the previous day. He called for greater integration of traditional industries and the digital economy, which covers everything from big data and artificial intelligence to cloud computing and blockchain.

Xi vowed to “correct” practices that harm the interests of the masses and hinder fair competition. Many in the industry have fallen foul of regulators. Among them, U.S.-listed online food delivery firm Meituan was recently fined $530 million by Chinese authorities for violating anti-monopoly regulations. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. was hit with a record $2.8 billion antitrust fine earlier this year and Didi Global Inc. faced a cybersecurity probe days after its blockbuster U.S. listing.

The wide-ranging crackdown has covered much of the vast digital industry, including online education. Beijing is moving to ensure the country’s sharing-behemoths improve the welfare of the millions of low-wage workers they depend on to drive growth.

In his speech Monday, Xi pledged to protect the rights of employees and customers of online platforms. A more strict taxation inspection system will be put in place, too. He also reaffirmed China’s commitment to building new infrastructure projects and developing homegrown technologies in key areas.

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