The USCIB Competition Committee launched a new webinar series for 2022 titled “Updates in International Competition Law and Enforcement,” spotlighting antitrust developments in key jurisdictions around the globe.
The first event was held last week, focusing on China antitrust regulation and enforcement and featuring experts from the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) China National Commission: Dr. Hao Zhan, managing partner at Anjie Law Firm Beijing and ICC Competition Commission regional ambassador to China, Susan Ning, senior partner and head of compliance department of King & Wood Mallesons in Beijing, and Song Ying, antitrust partner at Anjie Law Firm Beijing.
“We hope these webinars will benefit USCIB members, giving them the opportunity to learn from competition experts from around the globe on issues critical to their business,” said USCIB Director Investment, Trade and China Alice Slayton Clark.
Zhan discussed recent fundamental changes in China’s antitrust system, with consolidation in 2018 of three authorities into the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR), a centralized, vice ministry level authority with more power to promulgate and enforce competition rules and laws. According to Zhan, this has ushered in a new era of antitrust enforcement in China with the establishment of the State Anti-Monopoly Bureau and more cases and higher penalties targeting mostly the media, finance, technology internet platform and pharmaceutical sectors.
Ning outlined the Anti-Monopoly Law, draft amendments released in October 2021 and the anti-monopoly guidelines on the platform economy enacted in February 2021. She discussed how the trend in China is to focus antitrust efforts on the platform economy, focusing on the role of algorithms and platform technologies being misused to exclude or coordinate with others in the marketplace. Vertical, horizontal and hub and spoke relationships are all targeted. She also discussed the behavior patterns for big data killing, when platforms discriminate in pricing practices using algorithms to differentiate consumers and customary spending costs and described a few high-profile penalty decisions imposed on platform operators who hindered the flow of consumers between platforms – “picking one from the two” problem.
Finally Song described the recent history of anti-monopoly law development in China, highlighting a few of the key changes sought through AML amendments, most of which fall under merger control, addressing no safe harbor, aiding and abetting (liability of third parties), stop the clock, and higher penalties for gun jumping, for example.
Clark plans to host the next webinar in the spring, spotlighting European or Latin American antitrust enforcement practices.