China’s State Administration for Market Regulation has started an investigation into the Alibaba Group for alleged monopoly conduct including implementing the policy of "choose one of two”.
The probe, an important measure of the country to strengthen anti-monopoly supervision in the Internet industry, is conducive to regulating the industry and promoting its long-term and healthy development.
In recent years, China’s online economy has developed vigorously, with new business models emerging one after another, playing an important role in promoting high-quality economic development and meeting the people's growing needs for a better life.
However, at the same time, there are increasing reports on the issue of monopoly conducts on the platforms, revealing the existence of risks during the development of the online economy.
The Central Economic Work Conference and a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee both vowed to strengthen anti-monopoly efforts and prevent the disorderly expansion of capital. Anti-monopoly has become a major and urgent task in China.
Anti-monopoly and anti-unfair competition are inherent requirements for improving the socialist market economy system and promoting high-quality development.
Fair competition is the core of the market economy. Only a fair competitive environment can achieve effective resource allocation and allow the fittest to survive.
China has always supported and encouraged Internet enterprises to innovate and develop and enhance their international competitiveness since the birth of the online economy.
However, encouragement and regulation should also be given equal attention. The online economy must pursue innovative development in accordance with laws and regulations. If companies’ activities are against laws and regulations, and lead to market monopoly, disorderly expansion, and barbaric growth, they will eventually make the entire industry unable to achieve healthy and sustainable development.
Fighting against monopoly is an international practice, which is conducive to protecting fair market competition and innovation, and safeguarding consumer rights. The United States is the first country in the world to promulgate anti-trust laws. In recent years, the US has continuously increased its anti-trust investigations against Internet technology giants, focusing on the abuse of market dominance, and conducts such as suppressing competitors, obstructing innovation, and hurting consumer rights.
On December 15, the EU implemented the "Digital Services Act" and the "Digital Market Act", aimed at curbing unfair competition on large online platforms. In the past four years, Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and other technology giants have been subject to anti-trust investigations around the world. The EU has imposed anti-trust penalties on Google for three consecutive years from 2017 to 2019, with a cumulative fine of more than 9 billion US dollars.
Strengthening anti-monopoly supervision will also effectively promote innovation and promote co-governance. China is recognized as one of the leading countries in the development of the digital economy. It is imperative to promote the healthy development of the industry through taking anti-monopoly measures. This will also improve digital rules, and lay a solid foundation for building a new development pattern.
The country has for the first time reined in the dominance of internet companies through making revisions to the anti-trust law at the beginning of the year.
It must be noted that the anti-trust law applies to all entities and treats domestic and foreign capital, state-owned and private enterprises, large and small- and medium-sized enterprises, Internet enterprises and traditional enterprises equally. The purpose is to ensure the equal participation of various market entities in market competition.
Nothing can be accomplished without norms or standards. The anti-monopoly investigation does not mean that the country has changed its supportive attitude towards the platform economy. It is precisely for the purpose of better regulating and developing the platform economy, and guiding and promoting its healthy development, so that it could make greater contribution to the high-quality development of the Chinese economy.
It is believed that by strengthening anti-monopoly supervision, obstacles that affect the healthy development of the platform economy can be eliminated, and the platform economy will also usher in a better environment for development.