Beijing broadcaster’s 1% stake in short-video app Kuaishou is latest sign of growing state influence on platforms

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A state media outlet has taken a small stake in Kuaishou, China’s second-largest short-video platform after sister app TikTok Douyin, in a move that could give Beijing direct influence over one of the platforms. -the country’s most popular Internet forms.

Beijing Radio and Television Station, controlled by the Beijing municipal government, has invested 1.01 million yuan ($140,000) for a 1% stake in Beijing Kuaishou Technology, the mainland Chinese entity of the giant the short video, according to records on Chinese enterprise data provider Qichacha.

The remaining 99% of the entity, which holds a number of domestic broadcast licenses, is owned by Beijing Huayi Huilong Network Technology, a company 90% owned by Kuaishou co-founder Yang Yuanyi, according to QiChaCha records. .

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On October 26, the same day the investment in Kuaishou was made, the short film company appointed Shi Yesen, named after a Beijing radio and television station official, as board director. administration. It is unknown if the new director is the same person or if there are two people sharing the same name.

Kuaishou did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

The investment and appointment of a director strengthens the Beijing government’s control over an influential internet platform. Kuaishou reported 347 million active users in the second quarter.

Such investments are not new to the country, but they have raised concerns about Chinese state interference in Big Tech. In August last year, state-owned Internet Investment Chinese (Beijing) Technology took a 1% stake and board seat in Beijing ByteDance Technology Co, a domestic subsidiary of TikTok owner ByteDance.

The deal even caught the attention of the US Senate. During a hearing last year on TikTok’s independence and alleged ties to the Chinese government, Republican Senator Ted Cruz repeatedly questioned Michael Beckerman, TikTok’s head of public policy for the Americas, about the whether the parent company would share data with Beijing ByteDance Technology.

Beckerman didn’t answer the question directly, but said the entity holds domestic licenses for ByteDance’s business in China and is not connected to TikTok.

In April 2020, state-owned WangTouTongDa (Beijing) Technology Co acquired a 1% stake in social media platform Weibo, giving it the right to appoint a director to the board, according to the documents. deposited by Weibo.

Internet Investment Chinese (Beijing) Technology and WangTouTongDa are both subsidiaries of the China Internet Investment Fund, which is backed by banks and state-owned enterprises and subject to oversight by the Cyberspace Administration of China and the Ministry of Finance.

As market growth slows and regulations tighten, Chinese online platform operators are looking for new growth opportunities outside their home market. In the second quarter, Kuaishou managed to reduce losses from its overseas operations in Brazil and Indonesia and, for the first time, posted a domestic operating profit.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice journal on China and Asia for over a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2022 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Copyright (c) 2022. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.


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