China has never made and will never make antitrust enforcement a tool for geopolitics, and the nation always treats all entities, whether State-owned, foreign or private enterprises, equally and fairly, said a senior official from the country's top market regulator.
The comments came as China joins other nations in stepping up regulation of big tech companies and strengthening antitrust enforcement to ensure the healthy development of internet economies.
Wu Zhenguo, director of the anti-monopoly bureau of the State Administration for Market Regulation, said anti-monopoly law is fundamental to international trade and economy, and geopolitical climate never affects China's anti-monopoly law enforcement.
Wu made the comments in a written interview with Antitrust Source, an online periodical edited and published by the American Bar Association.
According to Wu, strengthening communication and cooperation between China and the United States in the anti-monopoly field is in the common interests of the enterprises and people of both countries.
"We hope to work with our counterparts in the US to accelerate the negotiation and signing of a new Sino-US memorandum of understanding on antitrust cooperation," Wu said.
He said Chinese companies' overseas business operations should be treated fairly and not subject to unprovoked investigations, accusations or blockades that harm not only Chinese companies, but also US companies.
"In the future, we will strengthen Chinese companies' overseas antimonopoly compliance and provide them with necessary guidance and assistance," Wu added.
Given that the thriving digital economy brings about competition issues while promoting economic development, the senior official said beefing up anti-monopoly law enforcement in key sectors, including platform enterprises, is a top priority for the regulator this year.
On Wednesday, the administration imposed 22 fines of 500,000 yuan ($77,000) each on tech giants including Alibaba Group Holding, Tencent Holdings and Didi Global for a series of violations of the antimonopoly law related to merger deals over the past years.
Wu said that for digital platforms, the "winner takes all" effect is prominent, and strong players normally grow even stronger. This is an area prone to a situation in which one or several players dominate.
Sun Nanxiang, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of International Law, said the ultimate purpose of antitrust measures is to leverage legal tools to restore fair and effective competition to the market.
US tech giants like Google, Apple and Amazon have faced continuous scrutiny and fines from government authorities worldwide for monopolistic behavior in recent years. European Union regulators hit Google with a 4.34 billion euro ($5.14 billion) antitrust fine in 2018 for using its Android mobile operating system to squeeze out rivals.
On Thursday, the top Chinese antitrust regulator and four other government departments jointly issued a detailed regulation on a fair competition reviewing system.
The top regulator said it will further break barriers in regional markets to safeguard fair competition and market orders. The new rules have highlighted the wider implementation of the review system by emphasizing the role of the joint review mechanism among governments from ministerial to county level.
(Source: China Daily)