China: China's Fair Competition Review System, 1 Year Later

Last Updated: 3 January 2018
Article by Shelley Zhang

Co-authored by Lingren Meng

Law360, New York (June 28, 2017, 12:37 PM EDT) -- One year has passed since China's State Council issued, on June 1, 2016, its "Opinions of the State Council on Establishing a Fair Competition Review System During the Development of Market-Oriented Review System."1 The opinions contemplate the creation of fair competition review systems ("FCRS") aimed at restraining the government from participating in conduct that results in local protectionism, regional blockades, industry barriers, business monopolies, and grants of preferential policies in violation of the law or illegally prejudicing the interests of market players. It was hailed as one of the most significant developments in China's effort to revamp its unique socialist market economy since the enactment of the Anti-Monopoly Law of the People's Republic of China nine years ago.2

For the past year, the opinions have been promulgated at various levels of government, including all departments of the State Council, provincial governments and their departments, and prefectural level governments. China's resolution to create a more market-oriented economy encouraging fair competition has started to materialize with (1) frequent international communication and studies on the subject of fair competition and continuing domestic public education and awareness campaigns, (2) increasing numbers of provincial governments engaging in the implementation of fair competition review procedures, (3) further development of the regulations and mechanism of FCRS by, and increasing cooperation and collaboration between, the departments of the State Council, and (4) the executive agencies' active response to calls from the private sector and review of policies that allegedly stymie fair competition. However, Rome was not built in a day. Discord exists among the nationwide implementation efforts, and there is still a long way to go before full and effective implementation is achieved.


Immediately after the issuance of the opinions, there was an intense round of public education and an awareness campaign consisting of training sessions for government officials, reports from experts and various symposia.3 The efforts continued into this year.4 In addition to these domestic efforts, there has been an increase in communication between China and other countries regarding FCRS.

The history of the development of competition law is relatively short, and in China, competition reforms are in many ways still lacking.5 As a result, since the enactment of the opinions, the Chinese government has expended effort in international communication and the mutual exchange of experience and knowledge with other countries. The four departments of the State Council (the National Development and Reform Commission; the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council; the Ministry of Commerce; and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce), which are in charge of developing mechanisms and regulations for FCRS, have engaged, to some extent, in these sorts of communications.

In September 2016, the deputy director of the Bureau of Price Supervision and Anti-Monopoly of the NDRC was invited to the 43rd Annual Conference on International Antitrust Law and Policy, jointly held by Fordham University and George Washington University. The deputy director spoke at a special session, "China Antitrust Enforcement Today and in the Future," during which she introduced the establishment of FCRS and its current implementation in China to representatives from other countries, including the United States and Japan.6 In October 2016, the director of the same bureau, Zhang Handong, met with Jeanne Pratt, the senior deputy commissioner for the Canada Competition Bureau, to discuss recent policies on the subject of anti-monopoly enforcement. They also exchanged views on how to strengthen international cooperation and communication between the countries.7

These sorts of communications are ongoing. In March 2017, the bureau participated in the American Bar Association's Antitrust Law Section's 65th Annual Spring Meeting, where the deputy director made speeches introducing FCRS to U.S., European and other scholars and lawyers.8

Other departments have introduced FCRS to international audiences, including individual companies. For example, in May 2017, the deputy director of the SAIC met with the chief counsel of Procter & Gamble and stated that the department he leads will build new methods of supervision and management to ensure fair and competitive markets, and in particular, through the implementation of FCRS.9


As required by the opinions, starting in 2017, all provincial governments are required to promote FCRS and lead prefectural level governments and their departments in implementing their own FCRS.10 In response to broad promulgation and education of FCRS, over 30 provincial governments have already established their own FCRS mechanisms in which the provincial government assigns review responsibilities to the designated departments.11 In general, the enactment of local regulations or the issuance of documents on behalf of the provincial government will be reviewed by the department that drafts them with the supervision of the relevant legal departments. For documents that are issued by the departments that belong to the provincial government, the department, or the initiating department if there are multiple departments involved in the issuance of the documents, will be responsible for FCRS.12

The Henan provincial government has issued its own opinions on establishing a FCRS, which is subordinate to and closely modeled after the one issued by the State Council.13 Other subordinate departments within the provincial government have incorporated the opinions into their more specific market regulations. In November 2016, Hubei Province Price Bureau amended its method on the management of its own regulatory documents so as to incorporate the concept of FCRS. Specifically, Section 11 of the amendment states that the FCRS of a local regulation should be conducted to ascertain that the regulation is not in violation of the Anti-Monopoly Law or the opinions. Section 13 of the amendment provides that for every local regulation the drafter must provide a self-review report on the regulation's impact on fair competition.14

Many provincial governments go further than just establishing their own FCRS mechanism, and they promote the mechanism further downstream to prefectural-level government. In early 2017, the deputy director of the Jiangsu Province Price Bureau went to Nantong City to research and investigate the implementation of FCRS.15 Other regions in Jiangsu Province are also responding to the action taken by the provincial government and setting up their own review mechanisms and assignment of responsibilities.16

Further Development

The four departments of the State Council in charge of developing regulations and review mechanisms have closely cooperated in various areas since the issuance of the Opinions.

The NDRC, MOFCOM and SAIC have collaborated in a yearlong research effort on FCRS. This research is vast — encompassing over 31 provinces.17 The three departments jointly held training sessions on the interpretation and requirement of FCRS and urged local governments to accelerate issuing regulations, establish review mechanisms and start the review process under the new mechanism. They also require local governments to be open to comments from industry and related parties.18

In the last month, the four departments together with 24 other departments held the first Inter- Ministerial Joint Meeting where they passed three important regulations: (1) Rules for the Implementation of FCRS (interim) (2) 2017-2018 Work Plan to Clean up Existing Policies that Exclude or Restrain Competition; and (3) Focus of the Work in Promoting and Enforcing FCRS in 2017.19

The participants agreed that the focus of the next stage of implementing FCRS should include (1) stricter examination of new policies to be promulgated, and further improvement in review procedures and assignment of review responsibility to prevent local governments from enacting policies that exclude or restrain competition, (2) gradual elimination of existing regulations that exclude or restrain competition; and, in 2017-2018 particularly, focusing on cleaning up those involving local protectionism, regional blockades and designated trading issues, (3) continuation of the public awareness campaign, (4) further strengthening enforcement of anti-monopoly law, joining forces with FCRS to regulate administrative acts and maintain fair and competitive markets, and (5) using the Inter-Ministerial Joint Meeting as a platform to ensure the effective and smooth implementation of FCRS.20

Policy Reviews in Progress

As review mechanisms are being developed, departments responsible for review are responding to calls from the private sector to evaluate regulations that claim to be unfair and anti-competitive.

For instance, the NDRC and the DRC of Guangdong Province in April 2017, after investigating the Shenzhen Health and Family Planning Commission's policy regulating practices for group procurement of medicine at public hospitals, concluded that it was inconsistent with the existing Anti-Monopoly Law and the opinions. Many of the commission's policy provisions were found to be anti-competitive, including the regulation that there can be only one service company providing the group procurement service, which means that all public hospitals must procure medicine though one company that does not face competition. After the investigation, the city commission agreed to immediately amend the regulation and allow any qualified service provider to enter the market.21

Possible Discord

It would not be surprising to find that those who have benefited from existing policies that exclude or restrain competition would not welcome FCRS and may try to circumvent it.

In May 2017, the China Auto Dealers Chamber of Commerce urged fair competition reviews on policies that relate to the country's new energy vehicle industry which allegedly encourage local protectionism.22 This is not the first time that such a challenge was made. In August 2016, soon after the publication of the opinions, an expert, in an interview with Legal Daily, called for fair competition review of existing subsidy policies for China's new energy automobiles, as those policies are believed to have led to local departments' interference with the use of the subsidy funds in a way preferable to local enterprises.23 In March 2017, the president of Great Wall Automobile submitted proposals to the National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, suggesting action to eliminate local protectionism and improvements to policies and regulations. In particular, she criticized the fact that some local departments added new policies that exclude and restrain competition even after the publication of the opinions, and that the required procedure that "Policy-making Organs shall listen to the opinions of interested parties, or solicit public comments" has not been fully followed.24 It seems that no official, public response has been made to those calls from the industry. However, cleaning up policies involving local protectionism and regional blockades, hopefully including those policies in the new energy vehicle industry, have been listed as the work focus in 2017-2018 by the first Inter-Ministerial Joint Meeting.


When the opinions were first released, there was some skepticism about whether they would be embraced. A year later, it seems clear that the four departments, together with the other departments of the State Council and local governments, have made significant strides in implementing relatively comprehensive and practicable mechanisms of fair competition review. This is a welcome development, although obviously much more effort, including that from local governments, is needed to effectively implement FCRS. It is hoped that through increased collaboration among these bodies, the vestiges of local protectionism and favoritism, which impede the development and realization of efficient and competitive markets, will be gradually eliminated.

Originally published by Law360.

Lingren Meng is a summer intern in the firm's Beijing office and is in his last year at George Washington University Law School.


[1] See Chinese Government Network, Opinions of the State Council on Establishing a Fair Competition Review System During the Development of Market-oriented Review System, The State Council, PRC, June 1, 2016, available at

[2] For an overview of the purposes and goals of the Fair Competition Review System, see S. Zhang, China's Fair Competition Review System: China Takes Another Significant Step Eight Years After Enacting the Anti-Monopoly Law,, July 1, 2016, available at See also Zhang Qiong, Implementing Fair Competition Review System and Safeguarding Fair Competition in Market, People's Daily, June 21, 2016, available at

[3] For an overview of efforts on FCRS, including the public education and awareness campaigns, see S. Zhang, R. Goldstein and D. Goldstein, A Six-Month Update of China's Fair Competition Review System,, December 21, 2016, available at

[4] See, e.g., Bureau of Price Supervision and Inspection and Anti-monopoly, Director Zhang Handong of the Bureau of Price Supervision Attended the Launching Ceremony of the Project "Study on the Path to the Implementation of FCRS" of the National Academy of Macroeconomic Research and Gave a Speech, September 9, 2016, available at; Bureau of Price Supervision and Inspection and Anti-monopoly, Director Zhang Handong of the Bureau Is Invited to Give Report on Fair Competition Review System at China Academy of Governance, November 18, 2016, available at; Western Development Division of NDRC, Guizhou Province DRC Holds Internal Training on Fair Competition Review System, May 11, 2017, available at

[5] See Liu Xu, Calm Thinking - How to Ensure the Implementation of the Fair Competition Review System, The Paper, June 17, 2016, available at

[6] See Bureau of Price Supervision and Inspection and Anti-monopoly, The Bureau Designated Representative to Participate in the 43rd Annual Conference on International Antitrust Law and Policy, September 27, 2016, available at

[7] See Bureau of Price Supervision and Inspection and Anti-monopoly, Delegation Led by Director Zhang Handong Met with Senior Deputy Commissioner from the Canada Competition Bureau. October 27, 2016, available at

[8] See Bureau of Price Supervision and Inspection and Anti-monopoly, The Bureau Delegation Visited the US Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, and Participated in 65th Annual Spring Meeting of the ABA, Anti-Trust Law Section, April 7, 2017, available at

[9] See China Industry & Commerce News, Wang Jiangping Met with the Chief Counsel of Procter & Gamble, Deborah Majoras, Xinhua, May 24, 2017, available at

[10] See supra note 1.

[11] See Bureau of Price Supervision and Inspection and Anti-monopoly, The First General Inter-Ministerial Joint Meeting Regarding the Fair Competition Review System, May 9, 2017, available at

[12] See Diao Cui, 28 Departments Work in Tandem, Big Move is Expected in Fair Competition Review System, NDRC's Long Microblogging, May 12, 2017, available at

[13] See Luan Shan, Henan Provinces to Establish Fair Competition Review System, Henan Daily, April 4, 2017, available at

[14] See Hubei Province Price Bureau, Notice on Issuing the "Normative Documents Management Measures of the Hubei Province Price Bureau (interim), November 8, 2016, available at

[15] See Nantong Provincial Price Bureau, Deputy Director Chen Qihong of the Provincial Price Bureau Went to Nantong to Investigate the Work on Fair Competition Review System, March 29, 2017, available at

[16] See Nantong Government, Rugao City to Establish Its Fair Competition Review System, February 15, 2017, available at

[17] See supra note 12.

[18] See id.

[19] See id.

[20] See id.

[21] See Bureau of Price Supervision and Inspection and Anti-monopoly, Shenzhen Health and Family Planning Commission Promises to Correct Its Policy Regulating the Group Procurement of Medicine for Public Hospital, April 7, 2017, available at

[22] See Sohu.Com, Annual Meeting Special Topic– "The Legal Analysis Report on the Chinese Auto Sale and Services" Will Be Released at the CADCC 2017 Annual Meeting, May 25, 2017, available at

[23] See Legal Daily, Subsidy Policies for New Energy Vehicles Are Seeking Changes, and Expert Reminded Fair Competition Review, August 24, 2016, available at

[24] See Sina Auto, Wang Fengying: Breaking Local Protection, and Creating A Fair Competition Market Environment for New Energy Vehicles, March 3, 2017, available at

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions