SHANGHAI Aug 27 A series of antitrust
investigations by Chinese regulators are part of efforts to
toughen enforcement of a 2008 anti-monopoly law and are not just
directed at foreign firms, the official China Daily reported on
Some foreign executives in China have said recent
high-profile probes into the milk powder and pharmaceutical
sectors appeared to show foreign companies were being singled
Reuters reported last week that an official from the
National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) put pressure
on some 30 foreign firms at a meeting in late July to confess to
any antitrust violations and warned them against using external
lawyers to fight accusations from regulators.
"There is no such thing as specially targeting foreign
companies. Our investigations focus on monopolistic conduct, not
the entities behind it," the China Daily quoted an unidentified
official from the NDRC as saying.
The NDRC, which regulates prices, was investigating other
sectors but it was too early to release details because of the
complexity of enforcing the anti-monopoly law, the official
The China Daily also quoted Huang Yong, deputy head of the
expert advisory group at the anti-monopoly committee under
China's cabinet as saying enforcement of the anti-monopoly law
would become "the new normal".
The NDRC has launched nearly 20 pricing-related probes into
domestic and foreign firms in the last three years, according to
official media reports and research published by law firms.
Earlier this month, the NDRC handed down record fines to six
milk powder firms, including Mead Johnson Nutrition Co
and Danone, for anti-competitive behaviour. It is also
investigating 60 foreign and local pharmaceutical companies over
pricing and costs.
The official Xinhua news agency said in a recent commentary
that China had not discriminated against foreign firms. It has
also rebuffed speculation the milk powder probe was aimed at
boosting domestic brands over foreign rivals.
Xu Kunlin, head of the anti-monopoly bureau at the NDRC,
told a China Central Television (CCTV) programme recently that
petroleum, telecommunications, banking and the auto sectors
could also be investigated for antitrust violations.
The China Automobile Dealers Association told Reuters this
month that its officials were collecting data on the price of
all foreign cars sold in the country for the NDRC.