May 13, 2022 07:06 PM

China’s Biggest Research Database Faces Antitrust Investigation

What’s new: China's market regulator has opened an antitrust investigation into China National Knowledge Infrastructure, also known as CNKI, the country's biggest online academic library, according to a statement (link in Chinese) published late Friday.

“The State Administration for Market Regulation has launched a probe based on pre-inspections,” said the statement, without offering further details about either the timeline or the reason for the investigation.

Soon after, CNKI said in public statement (link in Chinese) that it will “firmly” support and cooperate with the investigation.

Background: CNKI has over 200 million research papers and owns 95% of copyrighted academic papers written in Chinese, which gives it a strong grip on China's digital academic publishing industry, where it holds bargaining advantage over both journals and researchers.

In the past 20 years, CNKI has faced more than 1,700 lawsuits, most of which concern infringement of copyright and the right to disseminate intellectual property over information networks.

Most recently, CNKI came into spotlight after several research institutes of the Chinese Academy of Sciences suspended the use of the database over a spike in subscription fees to nearly 10 million yuan ($1.6 billion) a year.

CNKI is the latest target of China’s regulatory crackdown on anti-competitive behavior, which saw tech giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. fined a record 18.2 billion yuan last year for violating the antitrust laws.

 Read more 

In Depth: How China’s Biggest Academic Library Got Shrouded in Copyright Disputes

Bruce Shen contributed to the story.

Quick Takes are condensed versions of China-related stories for fast news you can use.

Contact reporter Manyun Zou ( 

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