Chinese Internet firms, including Tencent and Alibaba, faced their first revenue decline last year amid a regulatory crackdown and global economic slowdown.

According to the South China Morning Post, the combined revenue of Chinese Internet firms decreased 1.1 percent to 1.46 trillion yuan ($217 billion) last year, marking a sharp contrast to double-digit growth in the previous six years.

The data by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology showed that the internet services firms in ride-hailing, travel, financial, and flat rental sectors were hit the hardest.

The world’s second-largest economy recorded a 3 percent growth last year, compared with 8 percent growth in 2021.

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“China’s Internet sector profits grew by 3.3 percent to 141.5 billion yuan last year, but the growth rate was 10 percentage points slower than in 2021,” according to the MIIT data.

Meanwhile, billionaire Jack Ma has relinquished control of Ant Group in a bid to restructure China’s largest fintech company and put it back on the path for an initial public offering (IPO).

In November 2020, the Chinese regulators forced Ant Group to axe its world record-setting $39.7 billion IPO in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Ma and other top executives were summoned to meet regulators.

The company said that after the restructuring, major shareholders of Ant “will independently exercise their voting rights”.

Ma has gone into hiding after a regulatory crackdown in China. He has largely disappeared from public view since he criticized Chinese regulators two years ago.

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