At the beginning of January, 2020, China competition authority, the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR), started a public discussion of its bill amending Anti-Monopoly Law of China. The bill is one of the major revision of China competition law for the past 11 years.
Why does China need to reform its competition law? China internet giants, such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Baidu Inc., Tencent Holdings Ltd., tend to monopolise digital markets. Experts say this bill empowers SAMR to rein in China IT giants.
China’s bill introduces new criteria to assess whether internet giants hold a dominant position. Under article 21 of the bill, these new criteria are network effects, economies of scale, lock-in effects, and big data.
China is not the first country amending its competition law to control digital platforms. Germany and Austria are pioneer countries, which introduced network effects, economies of scale, and big data in their competition law in 2017. The reason behind this reform was German and Austrian competition authorities’ powerless to control the merger of digital platforms’ big data when Facebook bought WhatsApp.
Germany has recently walked an extra mile by developing further amendments of competition law concerning digital platforms. Notably, this new bill states a human-centric goal “for digital technologies to benefit people”.
Who’s turn to reform competition law is the next? In Russia a bill adjusting competition regulation to the digital economy has been under discussion since 2018. Recently Russian bill has been submitted to the Government. Though Russian bill faced heated debates, there is still a chance that Russia will soon be amongst the first countries which have an up-to-date competition law to rein in the technological giants.