Anti-monopoly guidelines issued for internet platforms

Anti-monopoly guidelines issued for internet platforms, 针对互联网平台的反垄断指南_

On 7 February 2021, the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) published the Anti-Monopoly Guidelines for the Platform Economy issued by the Anti-Monopoly Commission of State Council. This follows a high-profile consultation process on the draft version, which began on 10 November 2020.

While some revisions to the earlier draft appear to have adopted a more balanced approach, it remains clear that the SAMR intends to continue taking a more active role in policing China’s tech sector, as evidenced in recent enforcement activities.

Similar scope

The guidelines broadly adopt the same scope and structure as the draft version, and deal with a broad range of issues related to:

(a) Agreements/collusion between competitors, including information exchange and collusion furthered by platforms or other technical means;

(b) Agreements between non-competitors, including resale price maintenance (RPM) and most favoured nation clauses; and

(c) Abuse of dominance, including: Exclusivity obligations or restrictions precluding counter-parties from dealing with rival platforms (either-or/one-from-two type arrangements); personalised pricing (discrimination) on the part of dominant platforms without justification; and potential application of the essential facilities doctrine to platforms and refusal to supply, tying or bundling conducted through technical means and novel forms of abuse, for example penalising certain operators via search downgrades, traffic restrictions and/or technical barriers.

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