As Chinese tech companies come under regulatory scrutiny at home, concerns and pressures are escalating among investors and domestic tech companies, including China’s four big cloud companies, BATH (Baidu AI, Alibaba Cloud, Tencent Cloud and Huawei Cloud), according to an analyst report.
Despite a series of antitrust and internet-related regulation crackdowns, the four leading cloud companies have been growing steadily. As the current scrutiny is not particularly focused on the cloud sector and the demand for digital transformation, artificial intelligence and smart industries remains firm, China’s cloud infrastructure market size mounted to $6.6 billion, which is an increase of 54% compared with the previous year, in the second quarter of 2021.
Nonetheless, share prices of three of them — Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent — have fallen between 18% and 30% over the last six months, which could make investors cautious on betting on the Chinese tech companies.
“Chinese tech companies could always rely on their local market, especially when access to lucrative Western markets was blocked. But increasing domestic regulatory pressures over the past nine months have been a frustrating headwind for those companies that have seen their cloud businesses grow significantly over the past years,” said Canalys Vice President Alex Smith.
The four big cloud titans dominate the Chinese cloud market, accounting for 80% of total cloud spending. Alibaba Cloud maintained its frontrunner status with a 33.8% market share in the second quarter of this year. Huawei, which had 19.3% of China’s market size in 2Q21, is the one that has avoided regulatory measures so far.
“Huawei is an infrastructure and device company that also happens to have developed a strong cloud business. When it comes to cloud infrastructure, we focus on the BATH companies, not just BAT. Huawei is in a strong position to drive growth, particularly in the public sector where it has a good standing and long-term relationship with the government,” Canalys Chief Analyst Matthew Ball said.
While Chinese regulators intensify scrutiny of its technology companies, the crackdowns wreak havoc on its own markets and the shares of China-based companies.
Beijing passed the Data Security Law in June that started to go into effect in early September for protecting critical data related to national security and issued draft guidelines on regulating the algorithms companies, targeting ByteDance, Alibaba Group, Tencent and DiDi and others, in late August.