This paper submits that China’s Anti-monopoly Law (“AML”) should play a more active role in promoting sustainable development goals (“SDGs”), especially those goals related to environmental protection and social development. In terms of institutional design, the indirect model, i.e. applying exemptions to anti-competitive conducts that serve public interest remains the more suitable approach to promoting SDGs through the AML. We suggest that the direct model, i.e. including non-economic SDGs as legal objectives of the antitrust law should only be considered in exceptional cases, so that the antitrust law could avoid bearing “unbearable weight.”

By Wei Han, Hazel Yin & Tracy Lu1

I. BACKGROUND

In March 1994, the State Council of China adopted the Agenda of the 21st Century for China — White Paper on Population, Environment and Development in which sustainable development was pinned down as an overarching strategy of the Chinese government. In 2016, the Chinese government announced the National Plan on Implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development2 which addressed each of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (“SDGs”)3 set by the United Nations in 2015. In particular, the implementation plan for SDG 10 (i.e. reduce inequality within and among countries”) emphasizes that “creating and improving the institutional environment for fair and healthy competition and equal access to capital and market opportunities.” As pointed ou

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