China targets ride-hailing operator Didi for delisting in New York

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A driver opens the Didi Chuxing ride-hailing app on his smartphone in Beijing

China’s internet regulator has ordered the operators of a major ride-hailing app, Didi Chuxing, to delist from the New York Stock Exchange, in an ongoing government crackdown on the country’s technology sector, international media reports said on Friday.

The Cyberspace Administration has ordered Didi Global Inc to devise a plan to delist, out of concerns the company could “leak sensitive data,” Reuters reported, citing two people familiar with the matter.

The move, which could take the form of a privatization or a second listing in Hong Kong prior to delisting in New York, is non-negotiable if Didi wants to relaunch its apps inside China, the report said.

The company listed on the New York Stock Exchange in July 2021, a move that was immediately followed by a request from the Cyberspace Administration to take down 25 of its apps from stores inside China, citing national security concerns.

The Reuters report, which came after a similar report from Bloomberg, said this was because Didi had pushed ahead with the listing in spite of “requests” from regulators not to.

The reports about Didi come amid an ongoing crackdown on powerful technology companies by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Leftist opinion writer Sima Nan has posted several times to social media in recent days, accusing computer-makers Lenovo Group of “selling off state-owned assets cheap,” saying the company’s foreign employees make it a national security risk.

Trading in Chinese ride hailing firm Didi Chuxing, which is facing orders to delist from the New York Stock Exchange in an ongoing government crackdown on China’s technology sector, in file photo. Credit: Reuters

Comprehensive public dissatisfaction

Citing only data in the public domain, Sima said the Chinese Academy of Sciences sold 29 percent of its shares in Lenovo parent Legend Holdings to Oceanwide Holdings for 1.29 billion yuan less than the current market price.

He said 14 of Lenovo’s 27 senior executives are foreign nationals, and accused the company of being indebted to the tune of 100 billion yuan and of being insolvent.

Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the nationalistic Global Times tabloid, said Sima’s allegations — made in seven videos posted to social media platforms — were a reflection of the “comprehensive” public dissatisfaction with Lenovo in recent years.

“Instead of making real efforts to scientific and technological innovation after original accumulation, it gradually withdrew from the front line of national scientific and technological progress, and made fewer contributions to China’s core competitiveness,” Hu wrote in a commentary on the paper’s website.

He said Lenovo’s transformation from state-owned enterprise under the Chinese Academy of Sciences to a joint stock company was a product of an earlier “era.”

“Lenovo has strived to become the world’s largest personal computer vendor by unit sales,” Hu said. “The situation was far from dire, but the public is within reason to be disappointed.”

He cautioned against a political “movement” against private companies, however.

Guided by the CCP

Current affairs commentator Jin Zhongbing said Sima was highly unlikely to have made his claims without the backing of someone powerful in the CCP hierarchy.

“I think he came forward to do this with the tacit approval of someone higher up,” Jin told RFA. “It’s a part of [the CCP’s program of] public opinion guidance.”

Li Guangman, columnist and former editor of the trade publication Central China Electric Power, says the crackdown is part of the “profound revolution” he wrote about in an ideological essay in August 2021.

Li, whose essay on Xi Jinping’s move away from the pro-market policies of the past four decades propelled him to instant fame in China, has also approved of plans to eradicate “capitalists” from China’s news and other media content.

Acciording to the essay, the CCP has launched a “profound revolution” with its crackdown on celebrity culture, billionaires, and the private sector generally, citing Beijing’s blocking of Ant Financial’s initial public offering (IPO) in New York in late 2020, as well as an ongoing probe into the business operations of Didi Chuxing.

“It represents a return to the original aims of the CCP … and to the essence of socialism. This revolution will wash all of the dirt away,” Li wrote at the time.

The ban on private sector investment in the media would also ensure that there is no way for a “cultural elite” to control public opinion, or for foreign venture capital to gain a foothold in the sector, Li wrote of the media ban.

China targets ride-hailing operator Didi for delisting in New York: reports — Radio Free Asia

Tony Simon

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