英文

Editorial:Mainland big tech company under fire over US listing

【明報專訊】The storm surrounding the biggest ride-hailing company on the mainland, Didi Chuxing, has continued to smoulder. The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) has proposed revisions to its rules to make it mandatory for any tech company possessing information of more than one million users to apply for permission before filing for an overseas initial public offering (IPO) as a way to prevent customer data from being leaked. According to various mainland and foreign news reports, Didi had ignored Beijing's demand of assuring a sound protection of sensitive information and cybersecurity before listing hastily in the US. The central government's move to straighten up regulations has not only highlighted the importance of data security to the state but also reflected Beijing's intolerance of conceited tech giants that regard themselves as ''too big to fail'' and consider only profit chasing without any concern about their responsibility to society and the state. Further observation is still needed to determine whether Beijing's move to toughen supervision over US-listed mainland companies will mean the speeding up of the ''decoupling'' between China and the US in the capital market. Nevertheless, as some of the mainland tech companies are likely to slow down the pace of going public in the US in the short term, the Hong Kong government should grasp the opportunity, get on with its work and strengthen the city's status as an international financial centre.

The US stock market is characterised by its large size and loose regulation. For a foreign company, it is an attractive place, since the cost for getting listed is low, the time required is short, and it is possible to raise a huge sum of money. Didi raised around US$4.4 billion through its US listing at the end of last month, making it the largest IPO by a mainland company in the US since Alibaba Group's debut in 2014. But Didi submitted its offering prospectus to the US regulatory authority only on June 10. Its IPO was one of those with the shortest subscription periods for investors in recent years. On July 2, Beijing ordered a review of Didi's cybersecurity. The authorities said the Didi app was found to be ''in serious violation of regulations concerning its collection and use of personal information'' and the company's more than two dozen apps were all removed from mobile stores. Last weekend, the CAC even proposed revising the regulations. To prevent data leakage, any company possessing information of more than one million customers must make disclosures and apply for permission before having an overseas listing. Companies handling activities that may affect national security are also subject to a cybersecurity check-up.

As Didi has the travel data of a huge number of users all over the country and the detailed information of maps and positioning, it will be a national security risk if the big data is divulged to a foreign government. In the eyes of Beijing, Didi cared only about money when it hastily sought to raise funds in the US. What it wanted was only to make its US listing a fait accompli as quickly as possible. It ignored its responsibility as an IT giant to the state and society. Beijing's rebuke to Didi is different in nature from the previous clampdown on Ant Group. One of the major concerns regarding the delay of Ant Group's IPO is financial risk. To a large extent, the storm arising from Didi's stealthy listing in the US involves national security and data security as well as the company's ''disloyalty underneath its pretended faithfulness'' to Beijing. As the graveness of Didi's problem is more pronounced, the overhaul and penalty awaiting Didi may be even heavier than those faced by Ant Group and its parent company Alibaba.

In the short term, one may suppose that mainland technology companies will be more cautious about going public in the US. On the other hand, as Hong Kong is a part of the nation, there is no risk of leaking sensitive information to foreign countries here. The government should grasp the chance and provide more convenience for mighty mainland tech companies to go public in Hong Kong.

明報社評 2021.07.13:科企赴美上市出事 港可把握機遇招手

內地召車業龍頭滴滴出行風波持續發酵,國家互聯網信息辦公室(網信辦)提出修例,科技企業若掌握過百萬客戶資料,赴國外上市須申請審批,以防數據外泄。綜合內地及外媒說法,滴滴未理會中央要求,沒做好維護敏感信息及網絡安全工作,就急急赴美上市,中央出手監管整治,突顯數據安全對國家的重要性,亦反映中央不容一些科技巨頭自以為「大到不能倒」,逐利為尚,無視對社會和國家的責任。中央規管內地企業赴美上市,是否意味中美在資本市場方面加速「脫鈎」,有待進一步觀察,惟部分內地科企短期料將放緩赴美上市步伐,港府應把握機遇,做好自己,鞏固國際金融中心地位。

美國股市規模大規管鬆,上市成本低速度快,集資金額又高,對外國企業而言有很大吸引力。滴滴上月底在美國上市,集資約44億美元,成為2014年阿里巴巴後,內地企業在美國最大規模的IPO。滴滴於6月10日才向美國監管機構提交招股說明書,是近年接受投資者認購時間最短的IPO之一。7月2日,中央下令對滴滴展開網絡安全審查,當局表示,滴滴程式「嚴重違法收集及使用個人信息」,20多款應用程式全數下架。剛過去的周末,網信辦更提出修例,但凡擁有過百萬客戶資料的企業,赴外國上市必須申報審批,以防數據外泄;處理可能影響國家安全的活動,亦要進行網絡安全審查。

滴滴掌握全國大量用戶出行資訊,以及詳細地圖及定位資料,相關大數據一旦落入外國政府手中,將帶來國安風險。對中央而言,滴滴急欲在美集資,只顧向錢看,但求盡快將生米煮成熟飯,忽視身為科網巨頭對國家及社會應有的責任。中央這次向滴滴出手,跟之前螞蟻整改,性質並不一樣。螞蟻押後上市,一大問題在於金融風險;滴滴悄然赴美上市起風波,很大程度涉及國家安全、數據安全,以及對中央「陽奉陰違」,論事態,滴滴的問題更為嚴重,整治懲罰或許比螞蟻及母公司阿里巴巴更重。

短期而言,內地科企對赴美上市相信將變得審慎,香港是國家一部分,沒有敏感資料外泄之虞,港府應把握機會,為實力雄厚的內地科企在港上市,提供更多方便。

■/ Glossary 生字 /

fait accompli /ˌfeɪt əˈkɒmpliː/

sth that has already happened or been done and that you cannot change

stealthy /ˈstelθi/

behaving or done in a cautious and surreptitious manner, so as not to be seen or heard

pronounced /prəˈnaʊnst/

​very obvious, easy to notice or strongly expressed

■英語社評聲檔:link.mingpao.com/53000.htm

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