China May Launch An Antitrust Investigation Into Google Soon

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After the US, China is now reportedly preparing to launch an antitrust investigation into Google. Authorities in the far east are looking to examine whether the Alphabet-owned tech giant has hindered competition through the dominance of its Android mobile operating system.

The country's top market regulator, the State Administration for Market Regulation, has already submitted a preliminary report to the State Council's antitrust committee for review. Officials from Beijing will now decide on whether to proceed with a formal investigation. The decision may come within this month, Reuters reports citing people familiar with the matter. China's relationship with the US could affect the decision.

The American government has made life difficult for several Chinese tech companies with a string of restrictions and sanctions citing national security risks. The US Department of Commerce has put Huawei in the Entity List and threatened similar actions against SMIC as well. The Trump administration is also forcing ByteDance to divest the US operations of TikTok to an American company.

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Huawei has been caught worse in the middle of this US-China trade war, though. The most recent US sanctions cut off the company from its chip suppliers, threatening the survival of its smartphone business. Interestingly, the beleaguered Chinese telecommunications giant had proposed this investigation into Google last year.

The probe would also look into charges that Google's Android dominance could cause "extreme damage" to Huawei. Following the US sanctions, the company has lost Google's support for its Android-based products. Its newer smartphones now come sans Google Mobile Services, which has affected its sales outside China, thus impacting its revenue. Huawei is expecting to sell only about 50 million smartphones next year, almost one-fourth of its initial target for 2020.

China may follow the US, EU steps in its antitrust investigation into Google

Regulators in China will reportedly follow the steps of their peers in other regions if they proceed with the proposed antitrust investigation into Google. Those include how regulatory bodies have levied fines based on the company's global revenues rather than local revenues.

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"China will also look at what other countries have done, including holding inquiries with Google executives," said one of Reuters’ sources. The European Union fined Google 4.3 billion euros in 2018 over anti-competitive practices. The ruling surrounded around the Mountain View company's market dominance in Android, search, and advertising.

The US Department of Justice is also exploring a similar lawsuit against the tech giant, following almost a year-long investigation. Authorities in India are also looking into charges of the company abusing its market position to unfairly promote Google Pay, its mobile payments app, in the country.