In a push to even the playing field and stop monopolistic practices, Chinese regulators ordered Alibaba to adopt Tencent’s WeChat Pay on its platform, CNBC and other news outlets reported on Tuesday (Sept. 28).
“Removing external link barriers [among different Apps] can reduce operating costs for merchants, and bring convenience to the customers,” Zhang Yong, Alibaba’s CEO, said during a teleconference last month, Global Times reported.
He added that Alibaba will also work to further cooperate with other platforms in an effort towards interconnectivity.
Tencent is also opening its platform to Alibaba and told its users last week that users can tap external links in chat settings.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) issued a statement mandating that all platforms in China unblock external links.
Zhao Zhiguo, MIIT spokesman, said that “restricting identification, analysis, and normal access to web links without justifiable reasons affects user experience, damages user rights, and disrupts market order.”
He added that the ministry has received numerous complaints from consumers concerning the topic.
“Ensuring the normal access of legitimate web links is the basic requirement of internet development,” Zhao said.
Regulators in China have been cracking down on technology firms and working to abolish anti-competitive practices and increase data privacy with new laws. Companies like Alibaba and Tencent have historically blocked each other’s links, a practice called “walled gardens” by analysts.
On a recent earnings call, Tencent President Martin Lau said that internet regulation is a “global trend” that is happening in the U.S. and Europe and is not “just limited to China.”
He added that China is a “bit ahead in terms of the execution of a more structural regulation framework” and more regulations will be coming.