China Prepares to Raise Status of Anti-Trust Bureau

China plans to raise the status of its anti-trust agency to better challenge anti-competitive behavior. With President Xi Jinping’s push, the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) has fined firms, particularly the online platforms, for breaching the competition rules.

The Chinese Government considers elevating the status of the anti trust bureau, which will become the National Antimonopoly Bureau, and stay within the SAMR. The new agency will be raised to deputy ministerial status. The new status will help the bureau to gain resources investigating M&As.

The new proposal also offers opportunity to SAMR to conduct its own research, which it had to outsource before.

The proposal will still need the approval of China’s State Council as well as the National People’s Congress.

President Xi said last March that China should strengthen its antitrust powers to properly challenge the monopolistic behavior of big corporations. China took European antitrust regulations as a model and invited antitrust officials from the EU and the US in August to hold seminars for Chinese antitrust staff.

Until this year, China’s antitrust regulations were relatively loose. This year’s $2.75 billion fine on Alibaba Group for abusing market dominance has been a turning point. The country’s food delivery market leader Meituan was fined this month for $527 million also for abusing its market position.

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