China To Strengthen Antitrust Regulator, Again

China is looking into boosting its antitrust bureau’s status within the market regulatory agency to further fight monopolies, Reuters reported.

President Xi Jinping has encouraged the action to improve the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR), which was once low-profile, according to the report. That division made headlines this year as it worked to root out and punish anti-competitive behavior in the online “platform” agency.

The measure would see the antitrust bureau becoming the National Anti-Monopoly Bureau, which would be elevated to deputy-ministerial status, the report stated, citing unnamed sources. The antitrust bureau would remain within SAMR.

The new ranking would aid investigators in getting more resources to investigate mergers and acquisitions, according to the report. The new structure would also strengthen SAMR’s in-house abilities to perform research that used to have to be outsourced.

The plan must be approved by China’s State Council and the National People’s Congress, the report stated.

The proposed upgrade comes after Xi said in March that there was a need to bolster the country’s antitrust powers. China has been looking more critically at big companies and mergers, as corporate giants have become too dominant in the country’s consumer sector in Xi’s eyes, according to the report.

Beijing has been taking some cues from European antitrust authorities as examples, the report stated. In August, the SAMR antitrust office said it had invited US and European Union experts to hold online courses for Chinese “antitrust talents.”

SAMR said earlier this month that it is adding new members to the anti-monopoly bureau. It will also be splitting the agency into three arms, which will focus on antitrust investigations, market competition and mergers oversight.

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