Google is subject of complaint lodged with China's competition regulator

09 September 2019 00:00

As Google faces a raft of probes in various jurisdictions, an industry player in China has lodged a complaint with the country's competition regulator, alleging anticompetitive behavior by the US tech giant, MLex has learned.

It is understood that the complainant has most likely taken references from probes led by European regulators, and accused the company of abuse of market dominance.

Europe’s primary competition authority, the European Commission, has fined Google roughly 8.23 billion ($9.13 billion) in the past several years: for giving preference to Google Shopping in its search results; for placing illegal restrictions on device-makers who use its Android operating system; and for restrictive contract clauses for its AdSense customers. Google is appealing all three cases. The EU regulator also has two ongoing probes involving Google’s local search engine and Google for Jobs, both of which are accused of receiving preferential treatment in Google’s general-search results.

Although the Chinese complainant is trying to push the antitrust agency, the State Administration for Market Regulation, or SAMR, to open a case, the situation for Google in China is quite different from other jurisdictions.

Google’s search service is blocked for both users of personal computers and mobile devices in mainland China. Consumers need to rely on special services such as virtual private networks, or VPNs, to get around China's so-called Great Firewall, if they want to use such services in the country. Google's core business in China includes helping Chinese companies to sell their products on international markets via its search and advertising services.

Regarding Google's Android operating system for mobile devices, Chinese smartphone makers mainly run their devices on Android, including those that are sold overseas. However, pre-installation of Google services onto mobile devices does not seem to have a major impact on Chinese end-users, because Google apps including PlayStore and Map also are banned in China.

It is understood SAMR has not yet officially opened a case against Google based on the Chinese complaint.

Google declined to comment.

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