China’s Antitrust Law Enforcement After the 18th Party Congress

Ying Huang, Feb 26, 2013

On November 14, 2012, the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China came to a close at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The 18th Party Congress unveiled China’s new central collective leadership headed by General Secretary Xi Jinping, and featured an important keynote political report by the incumbent president Hu Jintao, which set out the national development strategy for the next decade and beyond. In line with the policy orientation defined by the 18th Party Congress and the status quo of China’s Anti-Monopoly Law (“AML”) enforcement, this article tries to predict what will happen to antitrust enforcement in China after the 18th Party Congress following a brief review of the current situation.

Hu’s political report at the 18th Party Congress is deemed as the consensus document endorsed by the Chinese leadership. It upholds, as much as ever, the rule of law as a fundamental principle. It also puts forward new requirements for China’s reform and opening-up policy, which has been implemented for over three decades. The report calls for “deepening reform in key sectors with greater political courage and vision.” Economic reform is highlighted in the report, aiming to balance the relationship between government power and market freedom.

In a subsequent speech marking the 30th anniversary of the current edition of the Constitution, Xi said, “we must firmly establish, throughout society, the authority of the Constitution and law so that our people will have faith in law.” The role of the AML, which is informally referred to as the “economic constitution,” has been brought into public attention in an air of heightened expectations after the 18th Party Congress. In order to predict what will happen with respect to antitrust enforcement in China, let us first review its present situation

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