The Independence of Chinese Competition Agencies and the Impact on Competition Enforcement in China
Journal of Antitrust Enforcement, 2015
Posted: 19 Nov 2015
Date Written: November 18, 2015
Administrative enforcement of China’s Anti-Monopoly Law is shared among three ministries, and a pan-ministry commission sits above these ministries to coordinate competition policy. This two-tiered tripartite enforcement structure has been criticized as inefficient, costly, and ineffective. In particular, commentators are concerned that the agencies’ lack of independence will lead to the consideration of non-competition matters in competition enforcement. However, there has been minimal research done on how these institutional arrangements limit the independence of the Chinese competition agencies and whether and how this has actually impacted the enforcement of the Anti-Monopoly Law.
This article addresses this gap by investigating whether a lack of independence has affected competition enforcement in China. By looking at the concept of agency independence, this article argues that, in addition to the constraints on independence that arise from the competition agencies’ positions as ministries within the executive branch, their independence is also limited by the conventions, coordination mechanisms, and relationships that exist within China’s socialist system. Applying this broader, multidimensional concept of independence to understand the enforcement experience of the Anti-Monopoly Law, the article finds that the limitations placed on the independence of the competition agencies have shaped enforcement processes and outcomes.
Keywords: competition law, anti-monopoly law, antitrust, China, institutional arrangements, agency independence, political economy, competition enforcement
JEL Classification: B25, D73, D73, D78, K21, L4, L5, P26
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