China warns of ‘relentless’ in corruption and monopoly crackdown

China has vowed to step up regulation and show “relenting” against corruption as the ruling Communist Party prepares for a major meeting to secure a third term for President Xi Jinping.

The announcement indicates that authorities have no plans to curb the investigation that engulfed China’s tech industry last year, nor the corruption that led to the ouster of high-ranking politicians and influential tycoons.

The official Xinhua News Agency published a communiqué from the party’s discipline inspection and supervision agency late Thursday, saying authorities would punish any corruption related to the “disorderly expansion of capital” in various industries and “sever the link between power and capital.”

Beijing must “show no mercy to those involved in political gangs, small circles and vested interests within the party,” the statement added, while warning of further investigations into corruption in the financial sector and state-owned enterprises.

Critics see China’s anti-corruption campaign as a way to weed out political enemies since Xi Jinping came to power in 2013.

The new warnings follow a state TV show on Wednesday that suggested Ant Group, owned by tech giant Jack Ma’s Alibaba, was involved in a corruption scandal.

Alibaba’s Hong Kong-listed shares fell nearly 6 percent on Friday.

The latest episode of a series on CCTV about corrupt officials accused unnamed companies of paying the brother of a former official in Hangzhou in exchange for preferential treatment.

Ant Group, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment, invested in two subway payment companies controlled by the official’s brother through Ant’s Yunxin Venture Capital, according to company records released by the business database Tianyancha.

Beijing expanded its regulatory crackdown last year to curb the runaway growth of China’s mighty tech and internet industries and rein in the influence of big business.

Jack Ma’s e-commerce and payments empire was among the corporate giants to be hit, with officials slamming Ant’s planned IPO at the last minute in late 2020 and slapping record fines for Alibaba’s monopolistic activities.

Authorities have also tightened regulations on a range of industries, from education to food delivery, ahead of the 20th party congress next fall, where President Xi is widely expected to win a third term.

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