Alibaba Group has been slapped with a $2.8 billion fine for alleged monopoly activities, China's State Administration for Market Regulation announced Saturday morning.
The Chinese regulator claims Alibaba - the world's largest e-commerce company - has been abusing its market dominance as the ruling Communist Party tightens control over rapidly growing tech industries.
SAMR said it had found that Alibaba had been capitalizing on its market dominance since 2015 by forcing its Chinese merchants to sell exclusively on one e-commerce platform instead of allowing them to choose freely among various types of services, like JD.com and Pinduoduo. The policy is unofficially known as "choose one of two."
Since late last year, a clutch of internet companies, including Tencent and Alibaba, have been penalized for violating anti-competition practices, for instance, failing to clear past acquisitions with regulators.
"Alibaba accepts the penalty with sincerity and will ensure its compliance with determination," Variety quoted the company as saying in a statement.
Alibaba said it would do business in accordance with the law, continue to strengthen its compliance systems, and build on growth through innovation, the report said.
The move is a new impediment for the Chinese company and its billionaire founder, Jack Ma, after a November ruling by regulators to stop the stock market debut of Ant Group, a finance service spun off from Alibaba.
The fine represents around 4% of Alibaba's annual revenue in China, SAMR said. The law offers a ceiling of 10% of a company's revenue. The Alibaba penalty is nonetheless twice the $975 million penalty imposed on semiconductor manufacturer Qualcomm in 2015.
According to Alibaba chief executive officer Daniel Zhang, the changing regulatory landscape applicable to fintech and internet platform companies "presents near-term challenges to Alibaba, and we regard them as important opportunities for reassessing and improving our business practices."