In a marked shift from its once-sacrosanct policy of economic reform and market opening, China these days seems to be increasingly tightening the state’s hand over business. Its government-controlled press is warning multinationals like Nike and United Airlines to keep silent over the situations in Xinjiang and the Taiwan Strait—or risk being pushed out of the market. Officials are pressuring the country’s successful private companies to allow Chinese Communist Party (CCP) committees into their management and forcing them to bend to Beijing’s diktats. As the regime comes to see these companies as a rising threat, it’s becoming clear that we’re entering a new era of Chinese state capitalism.
After Chinese regulators last year suddenly halted what would have been the world’s largest stock offering, Ant Group’s $37 billion IPO in Shanghai and Hong Kong, Jack Ma, the founder of parent company Alibaba and China’s best-known entrepreneur, vanished from the public eye and may be under orders to not leave the country. On April 9, Alibaba was slapped with a $2.8 billion anti-monopoly fine, the largest ever levied in the country, and Ma will likely be forced to sell his stake in Ant, possibly to a state-owned company.