Don’t expect an ‘explosion of cases’ from China’s antitrust push: Professor

Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma attended the opening ceremony of the 3-All-China Young Entrepreneur Summit on September 25, 2020 in Fujian, Fujian Province, China.

Liu Ming | China News Service via Getty Images

Singapore – According to legal experts Angela Zhang, China’s latest antitrust push would be unlikely to lead to a “sudden explosion of cases” against online platforms.

His remarks erupted after shares of Chinese tech giants such as Alibaba, Tencent and Meituan first released in November in Beijing to draft regulations that constitute anti-defection behavior for the first time.

“It is a little early to tell what the government is going to take next, but at least it is indicative of a trend towards stricter regulatory enforcement on these tech businesses,” said Associate Professor of Law and Director Zhang. Center for Chinese Law at the University of Hong Kong.

Commenting on the potential impact of the anti-draft monopoly rules, which are currently in a public consultation phase until November 30, Zhang told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Monday that there are two factors to keep in mind.

We should not expect… a sudden explosion of cases against these online platforms.

Angela Zhang

Associate Professor of Law, Center for Chinese Law at the University of Hong Kong

First, such investigations typically involve a “lengthy process” and Chinese agencies may take longer to complete an investigation, Zhang said.

“The last major case they brought against Tetra Pak took almost five years to complete,” she said, citing the Swedish packaging firm, which was fined nearly $ 97 million by Chinese regulators over anti-monopoly practices Was imposed

The second point is that Chinese agencies “have very few employees.”

“We shouldn’t expect … a sudden explosion of cases against these online platforms,” ​​Zhang said, as it would consume “a lot of time for the government” and human resources. Agencies to bring any major case against tech giants.

As for the contestants, the professor said they could pursue their cases in court, though none of the plaintiffs have successfully launched an antitrust case against the online platform yet. It also “remains to be seen” how judges will interpret the issues.

Nevertheless, he acknowledged that many details “remain to be finalized” and it is still not known when the new rules will actually be announced. Even when new regulations are issued, they will only be “guidelines” and will not change the existing regulatory framework.


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