The campaign has spurred concerns that larger rival Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. or upstart PDD Holdings Inc. may retaliate with cuts of their own, igniting a margin-eroding price war. JD announced the launch of the subsidy plan in a statement on its official WeChat account Saturday.
China’s internet firms are revving up efforts to outdo each other since Beijing began to wind back its bruising crackdown on the tech sector, spurring an abrupt surge in competition that’s spooking investors. Meituan is said to be expanding into Hong Kong and has embarked on a campaign to hire 10,000 people on the mainland — an effort to beat back heightened competition from new entrants such as ByteDance Ltd. in the $145 billion Chinese food-delivery arena.
JD shares tumbled after news of the impending rivalry surfaced in domestic media last week. Alibaba executives have since dismissed speculation it would directly engage its longtime rival, warning that a return to the price wars of years past was in nobody’s best interest.
In 2020, Beijing launched a crackdown campaign to rein in what it called the “reckless expansion of capital,” affecting sectors from e-commerce to online education and the sharing economy. The government has begun rolling back restrictions since late 2022, intent on reviving a Covid-struck economy.
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