BAIDU, INC. filed this Form 20-F on 03/31/2017
Entire Document

Table of Contents

arrangements constitute control over, or participation in, the operation of online game operations through indirect means, it is unclear whether and how the various regulations of the PRC authorities might be interpreted or implemented in the future. If our relevant contractual arrangements were deemed to be “indirect means” or “disguised form” under the Circular 13, the relevant contractual arrangements may be challenged by the SAPPRFT or other governmental authorities. If our operation of mobile game platforms were found to be in violation of the Circular 13, the SAPPRFT, in conjunction with relevant regulatory authorities, would have the power to investigate and deal with such violations, including in the most serious cases, suspending or revoking the relevant licenses and registrations.

As we enter into new businesses, we may encounter additional regulatory uncertainties. For example, it remains unclear whether the provision of online payment services by BaiduPay will require BaiduPay to apply for a Value-Added Telecommunication Business Operating License for “online data processing and transaction processing businesses” as provided in the Catalog of Telecommunication Businesses promulgated by the MIIT. However, Baidu Netcom, parent company of BaiduPay, has received a Trans-Regional Value-Added Telecommunication Business Operating License with a permitted operation scope covering online data processing and transaction processing businesses. Baidu Netcom plans to submit an application to allow its subsidiary BaiduPay to operate online data processing and transaction processing businesses in 2017. Another example, the current PRC legal framework on traffic and transportation does not cover autonomous cars or autonomous driving. Therefore, it remains uncertain what additional compliance requirements we need to meet in order to undertake a public road testing of our autonomous driving cars in China. There is also no guarantee that the public road testing of our autonomous driving cars in other locations fully complies with local laws and regulations. If our public road testing is deemed by local enforcement authority as a violation of the applicable traffic and transportation laws, we may have to suspend the testing, and the progress of our research and development of autonomous cars may be adversely affected.

The interpretation and application of existing PRC laws, regulations and policies and possible new laws, regulations or policies relating to the internet industry have created substantial uncertainties regarding the legality of existing and future foreign investments in, and the businesses and activities of, internet businesses in China, including our business.

Substantial uncertainties exist with respect to the enactment timetable, interpretation and implementation of draft PRC Foreign Investment Law and how it may impact the viability of our current corporate structure, corporate governance and business operations.

The Ministry of Commerce published a discussion draft of the proposed Foreign Investment Law in January 2015 aiming to, upon its enactment, replace the trio of existing laws regulating foreign investment in China, namely, the Sino-foreign Equity Joint Venture Enterprise Law, the Sino-foreign Cooperative Joint Venture Enterprise Law and the Wholly Foreign-invested Enterprise Law, together with their implementation rules and ancillary regulations. The draft Foreign Investment Law embodies an expected PRC regulatory trend to rationalize its foreign investment regulatory regime in line with prevailing international practice and the legislative efforts to unify the corporate legal requirements for both foreign and domestic investments. While the Ministry of Commerce solicited comments on the draft, substantial uncertainties exist with respect to its enactment timetable, interpretation and implementation. The draft Foreign Investment Law, if enacted as proposed, may materially impact the viability of our current corporate structure, corporate governance and business operations in many aspects.

Among other things, the draft Foreign Investment Law expands the definition of foreign investment and introduces the principle of “actual control” in determining whether a company should be treated as a foreign-invested enterprise, or an FIE. According to the definition set forth in the draft, FIEs refer to enterprises established in China pursuant to PRC law that are solely or partially invested by foreign investors. The draft specifically provides that entities established in China (without direct foreign equity ownership) but “controlled” by foreign investors, through contract or trust for example, will be treated as FIEs. Once an entity falls within the