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Strengthen Law Enforcement
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Strict law enforcement is the most important factor in breaking monopolies, says a commentary in Southern Metropolis Daily. An excerpt follows:

The draft anti-monopoly law was approved in principle at a recent executive meeting of the State Council. After revision, the draft law will be submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the nation's top legislature, for deliberation.

There are already laws and regulations that promote market fairness such as the Anti-Unfair Competition Law and Law on the Protection of Consumers' Rights and Interests. But these often go unimplemented due to a lack of enforcement power.

The draft law deals with specific behavior that restricts market competition. Strictly enforced, it can become a weapon to break monopolies.

By excluding most of the clauses related to administrative monopolies, the draft law has aroused much public concern.

Before we cast any further doubt, it should be made clear that the core of an anti-monopoly law is to oppose behavior that limits market competition and impairs the market. Anti-monopoly laws in other countries mainly include the following aspects: rules about agreements that restrict competition; rules on behavior that abuses a dominant status in the market; rules about mergers of enterprises; rules on unfair competition. As long as laws or regulations deal with these matters, they can be regarded as anti-monopoly laws.

It is said that China's legislators absorbed advanced foreign experience when drafting the anti-monopoly law. Thus, the promotion of fair play should become the core of the anti-monopoly law.

But some of the stipulations in the draft may go against this spirit. For example, one article is about banning monopoly agreements but there is no clear definition of a monopoly agreement, which may exempt real monopoly agreements but raise the threshold for co-operation among enterprises. And although there are practical reasons for excluding the chapter about administrative monopoly, such as to increase the competitiveness of Chinese enterprises, especially resource enterprises, in the international market, it ignores the harm done to the concept of fair play in domestic market.

(China Daily June 12, 2006)

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