Anti-monopoly draft provokes debate

By Liu Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-11-15 06:43

Legal experts involved in drawing up China's new anti-monopoly draft law say a unified organization is needed to enforce what is viewed as the nation's "economic constitution."

The draft governs the actions of all monopolies in China, both domestic and foreign, and, as it stands, an anti-monopoly commission will be established under the State Council.

But the responsibility for enforcement will be divided among the Ministry of Commerce, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, and the National Development and Reform Commission.

But Wang Xiaoye, Sheng Jiemin and Shi Jianzhong, three legal experts who participated in the legislation, all oppose enforcement by the multi-department system.

"No country in the world appoints so many administrative departments to enforce a law to protect market competition," Wang, economic law director of the law institute under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told China Daily.

Without a unified and authoritative law enforcement organization, she added, the anti-monopoly law will be difficult to enforce, and "the issue is a key point in the legislation."

Shi, a professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, said most countries have a unified anti-monopoly law enforcement organization. One notable exception is the United States, which authorizes the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission to do the work.

He said he hoped that the anti-monopoly commission under the State Council would handle the law's enforcement.

Sheng, director of the Institute of Economic Law at Peking University, also pointed out that a multi-department law enforcement system would not work.

On combating administrative monopolies such as the postal service or the railways, Wang disagreed with the part of the draft that authorizes higher authorities to correct governmental misuse of power that hampers market competition.

If the draft is adopted without a change in that area, she said, "it may mean the anti-monopoly law enforcement organization has no right to curb administrative monopolies."

The answer, she said, is to empower the anti-monopoly law enforcement organization to deal with administrative monopolies.

The draft was submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) in June for the first read, and the second read is not expected until the first half of next year.

Other experts praised the draft for addressing both domestic and foreign monopolies.

Huang Yong, a professor at the University of International Business and Economics who also participated in the legislation, said that the law does not target only foreign monopolies.

"Maintaining order in competition that does not discriminate against foreign companies accords with China's interests," he said.

Complaints against monopolies of multinationals include areas such as laptop computers, beverages, and supermarkets.

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