Tech monopolies must not be ignored: China Daily

BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – The State Administration for Market Regulation said it is accelerating the revision of the draft antitrust guidelines according to the public opinions it has received.

Once enacted, the internet platforms will be a major target, as the contents of the draft guidelines indicate.

Although enterprises, such as Alibaba and Tencent, play a crucial role in the country’s socioeconomic development, and have brought tremendous convenience to the people and business owners, the monopolies they are establishing in their respective markets must not be ignored.

The administration published the draft of the Anti-Monopoly Compliance Guidelines for the Platform Economy for public consultation on Nov 10.

The guidelines, which are expected to be finalised by the end of this year or early next year, clearly signal that there is a resolve to ensure the platform economy is subject to stronger antitrust enforcement.

Due to the internet platform economy’s characteristics of not being constrained by geographic restrictions, it is easier for enterprises to form monopolies in the online sector where usually the early birds occupy the woods.

They are not only the winners that take all, they also have the capability to make the rules, stifle potential competitors and kill nascent startups.

Given the internet industry’s deep penetration into people’s lives, the monopolies of these enterprises cause more concern than monopolies in other industries.

The mining of the data they control further reinforces their monopoly positions.

That’s why the European Union and some other major players in the digital economy have unveiled new rules recently to prevent a few giant companies from dominating the industry that directly concerns not only people’s livelihoods and the prospects of businesses, but also national financial, information and social security.

As the State Administration for Market Regulation said, the purpose of the guidelines is to prevent monopolies and curb monopolistic practices in the internet platform economy, promote fair market competition and protect the public’s interests.

Notably, the draft guidelines make it much easier for law enforcers to identify the monopoly actions of the internet platform operators than before.

Three regulations and five guidelines have already been issued this year to deal with monopoly issues, particularly those in the internet industry, indicating the authorities’ resolve to extend their antitrust efforts from the traditional economic sectors to the digital economy.

The guidelines to be enacted soon, together with these rules and a revised Antitrust Law, will form a comparatively complete anti-monopoly institutional system to better defend public interests, strengthen national security and promote innovation, which will also be conducive to guaranteeing the healthy development of the internet platform economy and relevant industries.

The internet giants have claimed to be pursuing innovation and serving the people. The State’s antitrust actions just serve to hold them to that.

China Daily is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 23 news media organisations.

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