About one month ago, Renmin University of China organized the
thirteenth Anti-Monopoly Law Summit Forum, which was focused on
discussion of fair competition in the Internet industry of China
and protection of netizens' interests. Officials from
various government agencies, such as the Law Committee of the
National People's Congress, Legislative Affairs of the State
Council, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology
("MIIT"), the State of Administration for Industry and
Commerce ("SAIC'), the Ministry of Commerce, and the
National Development and Reform Commission, as well as judges from
the Supreme People's Court participated in the
Noticeably, at the forum, Mr. Jiang Tianbo, the Deputy Director
General of the Anti-monopoly and Anti-unfair Competition
Enforcement Bureau of SAIC1 , said that the
internet industry has become a "hot" area where a lot of
anti-monopoly complaints are raised.
According to Mr. Jiang, most of the complaints relating to the
Internet industry are against the following 4 types of
joint boycott of transactions;
tying – such as tie-in sales of software with the
disparaging competitor's reputation – such as
disseminating information that the software of other Internet
companies is not safe or contains virus;
selling products at below-cost prices for the purpose of
maintaining the market share.
In response to complaints on the absence of SAIC in the QQ / 360
case, Mr. Jiang expressed the determination of SAIC to strengthen
its enforcement of the Anti-monopoly Law and Anti-unfair
Competition Law in the Internet industry.
Commercial libel indicated by Mr. Jiang above is mainly
regulated under the Anti-unfair Competition Law (AUCL), the
enforcement of which also falls within the purview of SAIC.
On the other hand, MIIT, the authority responsible for the
administration of the Internet industry, may also have the
privilege or intention to handle competition issues raised in the
Internet industry. The recent Interim Rules for Supervision
and Management of Internet Information Service Market (Draft for
Comment) promulgated by MIIT contains similar regulations as the
AUCL and the AML.2 It will be interesting to
see whether and how the MIIT will work with SAIC to enforce the
AUCL and/or AML in relation to competition issues in the Internet
Furthermore, compared with traditional industries, the Internet
industry may pose greater challenges to the competition authorities
as it is one of the fastest changing industries and the economic
theories for analyzing the behaviour of the businesses in the
industry are more complicated and less well-established. On a
global scale, we have seen leading Internet search engine firms
challenged in major competition jurisdictions for abuse of market
dominance. It remains to be uncovered how Chinese authorities
will show their teeth towards potentially monopolistic conducts or
unfair competition conducts of enterprises in this highly dynamic
1 The Anti-monopoly and Anti-unfair
Competition Enforcement Bureau of SAIC is the Anti-monopoly Law
(AML) enforcement agency responsible for oversight of anti-monopoly
enforcement of none-price related monopoly agreement and abuse of
2Partly driven by the QQ-360 disputes,
the MIIT released the Interim Rules for Supervision and Management
of Internet Information Service Market (Draft for Comment), on 12
January 2011 (see our article entitled "
MIIT releases draft rules which govern antitrust
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