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Years of a laissez-faire approach on the part of Chinese authorities has enabled homegrown tech companies like the Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings to grow into the successful conglomerates they are today. But as the poster children of China’s innovation economy become too big for Beijing’s comfort, the Communist Party leadership has stepped up an unprecedented crackdown to rein in their clout. This regulatory curb has wiped out billions of dollars from the market value of Chinese firms and rattled global investors—and it shows no sign of abating.

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