An Uber Technologies Inc. office in southern China was raided as part of a broader crackdown on illegal taxi services using private drivers, state media said.
The U.S. taxi-hailing application is suspected of operating without a license and illegal business activities, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, citing an unidentified traffic official in Guangzhou, where the raid took place Thursday. “We are cooperating closely with local authorities to continue to offer our service to the residents of Guangzhou,” Evelyn Tay, the company’s Singapore-based spokeswoman, said in an e-mail Friday.
The raid adds to the regulatory hurdles facing the San Francisco-based startup as it attempts to expand rapidly around the globe. China’s Ministry of Transportation in January banned private cars from offering unlicensed taxi rides via mobile apps, saying car-hailing software should differentiate their services from taxis and public transit.
Thursday’s action in Guangzhou was part of a comprehensive crackdown on illegal taxi services by private drivers and Uber was not specifically targeted, Xinhua said, citing the traffic official. Investigators seized mobile phones during the raid.
Uber said in February that it planned to hire hundreds of staff in China this year to help it compete against a merger between the country’s two largest taxi-hailing apps, backed separately by local Internet giants Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. In December, Uber had received a boost in the market, when local search provider Baidu Inc. took a minority stake in the company.
— With assistance by Liza Lin