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Important Legislation
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It is encouraging that legislative work on China's long-awaited anti-monopoly law is proceeding as scheduled.

On Saturday, the National People's Congress began its first hearings on the draft anti-monopoly law, dispelling early rumors that controversy surrounding this law had forced lawmakers to put off their deliberations.

The draft was approved earlier this month by the State Council.

This move to press ahead with anti-monopoly legislation points to a growing sense of urgency among top legislators. To meet the country's legislative needs regarding both the development of a socialist market economy and integration into the global economy, it is imperative to bring into place anti-monopoly legislation, the composition of which began more than 10 years ago.

The draft law, with eight chapters and 56 provisions, aims to ensure fair competition and regulate market order by preventing and checking various monopolistic activities.

Introduction of such a basic law for a market economy will definitely boost the country's efficiency-oriented economic reform and its opening-up drive.

A national consensus has already been reached on the need for an anti-monopoly law. But opinions are divided on the priorities of the anti-monopoly measures.

Though the country has achieved remarkable progress in its transformation from a centrally planned to a market economy, administrative obstacles to competition remain widespread, damaging fair competition.

On the other hand, as China steps up its integration into the global economy following its entry to the World Trade Organization, it is becoming increasingly necessary for regulators to strike a balance between opening markets wider to foreign competition and preventing aggressive foreign acquisition that threatens national economic security.

Obviously, these two types of monopoly concerns cannot be properly addressed any time soon.

As long as reforms of State-owned enterprises remain incomplete, an immediate solution to State monopoly will remain out of reach in sectors such as telecommunications, railways and electric power.

Meanwhile, as the inflow of foreign investment continues and even expands, it would be premature to define monopoly status regardless of the development and structural changes of the related industries from a global perspective.

Admittedly, this legislation is fraught with difficulties. But this fact does not justify a further delay in its approval.

The national legislature has shown its clear resolve to put an end to the anti-competitive behavior of State monopolies and dominant market players.

By starting to consider the draft, legislators have thrown their weight behind advocates of fair competition.

It is important to raise anti-monopoly awareness across the country to effectively hold monopolistic practices at bay.

Anti-monopoly legislation can offer businesses, lawmakers, regulators and society this much-needed education.

(China Daily June 26, 2006)

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