A Boeing booth at the Zhuhai Airshow in November 2018 Photo: IC

China aims to strengthen the enforcement of its anti-monopoly law and carry out necessary revisions to crack down on monopolistic practices, which will balance the country’s longstanding reform and opening-up policy with changes in the external environment, according to a recent meeting of government advisers.

The calls for bolstered and balanced antitrust efforts, coming at a time when the US government continues to intensify a crackdown on Chinese telecom company Huawei, could mean that although China will continue to open its market to foreign enterprises, it might also step up regulatory scrutiny of some US companies, analysts said Tuesday.

The Anti-Monopoly Commission (AMC) of the State Council, the cabinet, held an advisory meeting Monday, where top advisers noted the need to take into account changes in the international environment when it comes to antitrust regulations.

“It is necessary to consider the domestic need for further reform and opening-up as well as changes and developments in the international environment,” Lang Sheng, head of the AMC’s experts committee, told the meeting.

Lang’s comments refer to the escalating trade war between China and the US, which has not only slapped tariffs on Chinese goods but also launched a global crackdown against Huawei.

“There is a correlation” between the call for intensified antitrust efforts and the trade war, Xue Kepeng, professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Chinese officials have long vowed to further open up the market for foreign companies but they have also repeatedly criticized what they often call “US long-arm jurisdiction” in targeting Chinese companies using its own domestic laws. 

In light of the US crackdown, Chinese officials could intensify regulatory scrutiny of US companies, while also sticking to reform and opening-up plans, analysts said.

“Enforcement of China’s anti-monopoly law has been relatively loose on foreign enterprises,” Xue said, noting that US technology companies such as Microsoft and Google have been penalized in many countries and regions – including the US itself – for monopolistic practices.

Many other US companies, including Apple and Boeing, also have huge market shares in China. For example, more than 50 percent of all civilian jets operated in China are Boeing aircraft, according to public information. 

Apart from the trade war backdrop, China’s intensified efforts to achieve “the legalization of the market is an inevitable direction,” Huang Yong, a professor at University of International Business and Economics, told the Global Times Tuesday.

The establishment of a sound anti-monopoly legal system in China is also for the purpose of integrating with international markets and ultimately reducing international conflicts, Huang said.

Newspaper headline: Nation to bolster efforts against monopoly practices