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Report: Google could face antitrust probe in China instigated by HUAWEI

Losing support for Android and Google services could be 'damaging' to Chinese firms, the report notes.

Published onOctober 2, 2020

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  • Google could face a new antitrust probe in China.
  • Huawei, amid its recent struggles, has reportedly prompted Chinese lawmakers to investigate the US giant.
  • The probe would also touch on the US’ treatment of TikTok and chipmaker SMIC.

China is reportedly set to launch an antitrust investigation into Google’s dominance in the mobile operating system space. According to a Reuters report, the Mountain View firm could face an antitrust probe as early as this month, as trade tensions between the US and China continue. Notably, the publication’s sources suggest HUAWEI motivated the investigation.

Related: Google buyer’s guide: Everything you need to know about Google hardware

Purportedly key to the probe is HUAWEI’s treatment by US companies like Google in light of the ongoing trade ban. HUAWEI has seen its Google support for Android severed, leaving it without Google services on key devices in markets beyond China.

Google could have a problem here

The report suggests that China may probe Google’s market position in this regard, which could be used to cause “extreme damage” to other Chinese firms relying on its OS and other properties. The sudden cessation of Google support, services, and apps isn’t necessarily an issue for companies operating exclusively in China, but it could leave the numerous Chinese smartphone companies that do business internationally at a disadvantage.

The investigation wouldn’t stop there. It would also reportedly focus on the US government’s treatment of chip maker SMIC and ByteDance’s TikTok.

Reuters‘ sources add that, should the investigation commence, China will look at Google’s previous probes by EU and Indian lawmakers. It’s not clear what the country’s ruling would require of Google if it’s found guilty of wrongdoing. It is likely that China would want to protect its Android phone OEMs from facing similar issues to HUAWEI.

Google is no stranger to antitrust lawsuits. It faced a massive ~$5 billion fine from the EU back in 2018, has been investigated by India and fined for “search bias” in the country, and could also face scrutiny in the US as well.

Next: US-China trade war: Why every Chinese phone maker should prepare for the worst

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