context: Following the Politburo meetings signalling an easing of the crackdown on big tech and capital, a recent CPPCC meeting further confirms Beijing’s stance on the platform economy: its growth is indeed supported and welcome, but not without a healthy dose of regulation.

Highlighting the strategic importance of developing the digital economy, Liu He 刘鹤 State Council vice premier said during a CPPCC (Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference) meeting on 17 May 2022 that Beijing will support the healthy and sustainable development of the platform economy and the private economy. He highlighted several focus areas, including

  • adapting to the multi-faceted reform brought forth by the digital economy; improving comprehensive national strength and global competitiveness
  • fighting the battles for key core technology, improving basic research capacities, and prioritising R&D and application of advanced technologies
  • developing measures to support the health and regulated development of the platform economy; encouraging platform companies to participate in major scitech and innovation projects
  • properly managing relations between the government and the market; supporting digital companies to go public in domestic and foreign capital markets
  • continuing the opening up of the digital economy, through a human-centred approach, to promote competition and innovation

The meeting referenced the digital economy 5-year plan and pointed out that the rights of data ownership, usage, operation and income need to be sorted out to stimulate the innovative vibrancy of companies while protecting the national network and data security. This sends a clear signal that Beijing is pushing to set more clear boundaries of the different rights involving data to allow data to circulate in a secure and orderly manner, commented Chen Bing 陈兵 Nankai University Competition Law Research Centre director.

Liu’s comments on platform governance are consistent with recent policy shifts toward normalising regulation of platforms but doing it in a legal, transparent and predictable manner. Liu Yuanchun 刘元春 Shanghai University of Finance and Economics president commented that the purpose of regulations is to promote development, with development being the ultimate priority. Supporting the platform economy’s orderly and healthy development will be a stable theme of the future, added Liu.

The meeting sent positive signals for the future of China’s tech industry. The industry is escaping some of the volatility and unpredictability and may see a rebound in valuation for leading firms, according to reports by JP Morgan Chase.