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Customers go shopping at a branch of Yonghui Superstores in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province. Photo: IC

客户到浙江省杭州市永辉超市一家分店购物。

The nation's top Internet companies - Baidu Inc, Alibaba Group Holding and Tencent Holdings, collectively known as BAT - are taking their competition to another level by seeking investments to supplement their core businesses. But experts warned that while acquisitions might enhance the individual competence of the Internet conglomerates, they might nip many domestic start-ups in the bud.

百度,阿里巴巴集团和腾讯控股等国内顶级互联网公司正在通过寻求投资来补充其核心业务,将竞争提升到另一个层次。但专家警告说,虽然收购可能会提高互联网企业集团的个人能力,但也可能会让很多国内创业企业陷入困境。

The most recent investment related to the BAT trio is Tencent's proposal to buy a 5 percent stake in Yonghui Superstores Co, a Fujian Province-based supermarket store operator. The move was officially announced in a statement from the board of directors of Yonghui Superstores on Tuesday.

与BAT三巨头最近的一笔投资是腾讯提出收购福建省永超超市有限公司5%的股份。永辉超市董事会周二发表声明正式宣布此举。

When contacted by the Global Times on Tuesday, Tencent noted that apart from information disclosed by Yonghui Superstores, it did not have further comment to make on the issue.

周二,当《环球时报》联系腾讯时,腾讯指出,除了永辉超市披露的信息外,该公司没有就此事发表更多评论。

Yonghui Superstores suspended stock trading on Monday and Tuesday, while Tencent's shares fell by 3.01 percent on Tuesday in the Hong Kong bourse.

永辉超市在周一和周二暂停了股票交易,而腾讯的股价周二在香港交易所下跌了3.01%。

Some overseas commentators have been critical of Tencent's investment. Reuters Breakingviews, for example, published a comment earlier this month saying that Tencent's strategy as regards Yonghui "makes little strategic sense"

一些海外评论人士一直批评腾讯的投资。例如,路透社(Reuters)本月早些时候发表了一篇评论,称腾讯对永辉的战略“没有什么战略意义”。

However, Li Yi, a research fellow at the Internet Research Center under the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, praised Tencent's moves as being "pragmatic, like always."

然而,上海社会科学院互联网研究中心研究员李毅(音译)称赞腾讯的行动是“务实的,一如既往”。

"Alibaba has made some attempts to explore social network apps, an area that is normally dominated by Tencent. So Tencent needs to 'strike back' by trying out something that Alibaba is good at, such as the integration between online and offline retail," Li told the Global Times on Tuesday.

“阿里巴巴已经尝试了一些尝试去探索社交网络应用,腾讯通常主宰这个领域,所以腾讯需要尝试一下阿里巴巴擅长的东西,比如在线和离线零售的整合。李在周二告诉环球时报。

Liu Dingding, an independent technology analyst, told the Global Times on Tuesday that Tencent's investment in Yonghui is not just symbolic.

周二,独立技术分析师刘丁丁在接受《环球时报》采访时表示,腾讯在永辉的投资不仅具有象征意义。

"Tencent's big data resources and huge consumer base can perfectly match Yonghui supermarkets' operation. For example, Tencent's WeChat mobile payment system can be promoted in the supermarkets. This will pose a challenge for Alibaba's offline retail strategies, which are aimed at boosting the use of Alipay, Alibaba's online payment tool," Liu noted.

“腾讯的大数据资源和庞大的消费群体可以与永辉超市的运营完美匹配,比如腾讯的微信移动支付系统可以在超市推广,这将对阿里巴巴的线下零售策略构成挑战,这些策略旨在提高使用率阿里巴巴在线支付工具支付宝“

According to Liu, investment in Yonghui is just one example of Tencent's success in choosing investment partners that can mesh perfectly with its own businesses.

据刘说,对永辉的投资只是腾讯成功选择与自身业务完美结合的投资伙伴的一个例子。

"Their investment in car-hailing app Didi Chuxing, for example, has done much to create demand for WeChat online payments. Considering other investment targets that proved to be successful, such as JD.com Inc and meituan.com (a food delivery website), Tencent can be said to be very clever in its investment strategies," he noted.

“例如,他们在汽车应用程序滴滴出行上的投资,为微信在线支付创造了很多需求,考虑到其他投资目标,如JD.com Inc和meituan.com(一个食品交付网站),腾讯的投资策略可以说是非常明智的。

A report from sohu.com in June showed that Tencent had invested in 23 companies in the first half of 2017, while Alibaba and Baidu had invested in five and six, respectively. All three have put money into companies in the transportation and hardware areas, but Tencent showed strong interest in cultural and entertainment companies.

搜狐公司6月份的一份报告显示,腾讯在2017年上半年投资了23家公司,而阿里巴巴和百度则分别投资了5家和6家。三家公司都把资金投入运输和硬件领域的公司,但腾讯对文化娱乐公司表现出强烈的兴趣。

"Except for areas forbidden by law, companies in any industry might get capital backing from the trio, or at least from Alibaba and Tencent," Li said.

李说:“除了法律禁止的地区外,任何行业的公司都可能得到三人或者阿里巴巴和腾讯的资金支持。

According to Li, the broad investment range of Internet companies will open new doors for traditional industries by pushing them to undertake reforms.

李先生表示,互联网公司的广泛投资范围将推动传统行业进行改革。

"For example, facing the rise of mobile payments, traditional payment companies such as China UnionPay have been prompted to launch reforms like rolling out more customer discounts," he said.

“例如,面对移动支付的兴起,像中国银联这样的传统支付公司已经被提示推出改革,推出更多的客户折扣。”他说。

But Li also warned that there may be a dark side to the Internet giants' investment drive. The massive expansion of the BAT trio has created something of a monopoly, which has strangled many start-ups in China.

但是李还警告说,互联网巨头的投资可能会有一个黑暗的一面。BAT三巨头的大规模扩张创造了一些垄断,扼杀了中国的许多创业公司。

Chinese start-ups "can hardly compete with companies backed by BAT capital, nor can they easily get capital support from other sources," he said. Many have no other option than to be acquired or invested in by one of the BAT trio.

他说,中国初创企业“几乎无法与BAT capital支持的公司竞争,也很难从其他渠道获得资金支持。”许多人别无选择,只能被一个蝙蝠三人收购或投资。

For example, several bike-sharing companies (including Bluegogo) failed amid fierce competition from Mobike and ofo, which are backed by Tencent and Alibaba, respectively.

例如,在由腾讯(Tencent)和阿里巴巴(Alibaba)支持的Mobike和ofo的激烈竞争中,几家自行车共享公司(包括Bluegogo)失败了。

An employee from domestic e-commerce website vip.com told the Global Times on Tuesday that many vip.com employees were "disappointed" that the firm didn't reach an acquisition deal with Tencent when that chance arose in the past.

国内电子商务网站vip.com的一名员工周二告诉《环球时报》,很多vip.com的员工都“很失望”,因为在过去这个机会出现的时候,公司没有与腾讯达成收购协议。

"Many domestic start-ups are eager to be controlled by a BAT company instead of having to grow up on their own. I think this trend runs counter to industrial diversity," Li said.

许多国内初创企业都渴望被一家BAT公司控制,而不是独自成长。我认为这一趋势与工业多样性背道而驰。

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