Anti-monopoly has become a hot word in the two sessions, experts suggest that penalties should be increased

  Twenty years after the development of my country's digital economy, the "anti-monopoly" fever has continued to increase, and it has become the focus of this year's National Two Sessions.

  On March 5, at the opening meeting of the Fourth Session of the 13th National People's Congress, Premier Li Keqiang stated that the state supports the innovation and development of platform enterprises and enhances their international competitiveness.

At the same time, it is necessary to regulate development in accordance with the law and improve the digital rules.

Strengthen anti-monopoly and prevent the disorderly expansion of capital, and resolutely maintain a fair competitive market environment.

  On March 8, the work report of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress showed that, according to the legislative work plan, the futures law, the rural revitalization promotion law, etc., will be formulated, and the anti-monopoly law, the company law, and the corporate bankruptcy law will be formulated to focus on building a modern economic system and promoting technological innovation. Wait.

  "In recent years, large-scale platform companies have gradually formed in the Internet field, covering well-known brands in the fields of payment, instant messaging, online shopping, online car-hailing, food delivery, audio-visual audio-visual, etc. These Internet platforms are also making use of them while facilitating our lives. Significant market advantage, grab the best interests, and exclude competitors." Lu Hongbing, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, vice chairman of the All China Lawyers Association, and partner of Guohao Lawyers (Shanghai), told China Business News.

  Lu Hongbing believes that with regard to anti-monopoly in the Internet field, monopolistic behaviors that are particularly worthy of attention include anti-competitive behaviors such as the killing of big data, wanton and unilateral price increases, and forcing users and businesses to "choose one of two".

In this regard, he believes that in 2021, the open, innovative, inclusive, and free competition characteristics of the Internet industry should be guaranteed.

Which monopolistic behaviors are of concern

  The topic of "anti-monopoly" is also quite enthusiastic in the proposals made by the two sessions this year.

  "1 cent a bag of salt", "9 cents a green vegetable", "1 cent an orange"...From fruits and vegetables to meat, poultry, eggs and milk, major Internet giants use massive amounts of data, advanced algorithms, and solid resources. The capital of the company sinks to the end of the community, and by increasing subsidies and preferential measures, it intends to win the community’s fresh food group buying market.

  Zhu Lieyu, representative of the National People’s Congress and director of Guangdong Guoding Law Firm, mentioned in the recommendations of the two sessions this year that Internet giants make good use of the "price war" and enter the community’s fresh food group purchases, long-term apartment rentals and other fields. The industry has formed a monopoly, and its profit-seeking nature will be revealed. They will double their initial investment. The resulting situation will be market chaos and even affect the people's livelihood.

The Internet giant's use of the "price war" model to seize the market has attracted the attention of the regulatory authorities.

  On March 3 this year, the State Administration of Market Supervision imposed administrative penalties on five community group buying companies, including Orange Heart Optimal, Duoduomai, Meituan Optimal, Shihuituan, and Shixianghui for improper price behavior.

In response to monopolies and unfair competition in community group buying, the State Administration of Market Supervision issued the "Nine Nos" for community group buying at the end of last year.

  In addition to community group buying, Zhu Lieyu also mentioned that the field of long-term rental apartments on the Internet is also full of unfair competition from Internet companies.

  "Using the model of'high-in-low-out, long-term receipt and short-term payment' for further scale expansion violates the basic market law of the rental industry of'earning the price difference'." Zhu Lieyu said.

  In addition, during the two sessions this year, a group proposal of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce held that several take-out platforms are dominant, and there are even monopolistic behaviors requiring catering companies to “choose one of two” in fiercely competitive regions. This has led to take-out platforms. Commissions remain high, and many catering companies are "losing money and earning praise."

  Zhang Zhaoan, representative of the National People’s Congress and deputy dean of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, also summarized the current common monopoly and unfair competition behaviors in the Internet field in my country: e-commerce platforms force merchants to "choose one of two", social platforms block user links, and online Ticket booking or taxi-hailing platforms are suspected of targeting consumers with price big data, denying API equal access to monopolize data, exclusive copyright authorization for online music, game literature and other content areas to monopolize intellectual property rights, and large-scale mergers and acquisitions of small and medium-sized Internet companies by leading platforms. Innovation etc.

  "Such actions directly infringe upon the legitimate rights and interests of small and medium-sized enterprises and end consumers, and undermine the normal order of competition in the digital market. To strengthen anti-monopoly in the Internet field, legislation and enforcement is still the focus of the next step in the field of Internet supervision. "Zhang Zhaoan said.

Cracking down on monopolistic behavior

  Entering 2021, the anti-monopoly field supervision continued the high pressure at the end of last year.

  On January 31 this year, the Central Office and the State Council issued the "Action Plan for Building a High Standard Market System", reiterating the need to strengthen and improve anti-monopoly and anti-unfair competition law enforcement; on February 7, the "Anti-Monopoly Committee of the State Council Regarding Platform Economy "Guide to Anti-Monopoly in the Field" (hereinafter referred to as "Guide to Anti-Monopoly") is released, which directly refers to the monopoly issues in the Internet field such as the "choice of two" and "big data".

  "Internet giants can set prices freely, can use big data to'kill familiar', can bundle sales, and can be incompatible between the first-generation and second-generation accessories of electronic products developed by themselves, forcing you to update and so on. This is the unfavorable consequences of monopoly on consumers." Huang Qi, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and associate professor of the Law School of Shanghai International Studies University, told CBN.

  Huang Qi believes that when the supply and demand sides are unable to compete, the dominant supplier will do whatever it wants, which will seriously damage the interests of consumers.

One of the important responsibilities of the government is to prevent monopoly and maintain healthy market competition.

  In 2021, where is the focus of law enforcement for strengthening anti-monopoly supervision?

  Zhang Zhaoan believes that in 2020, major countries and regions around the world have strengthened anti-monopoly supervision on Internet platforms.

He suggested that my country's anti-monopoly law enforcement agencies review the concentration of operators in the Internet field in accordance with the law, prevent excessive market concentration through mergers and acquisitions, raise barriers to entry, and inhibit innovation.

  Zhu Lieyu suggested that my country should increase the penalties for Internet giants' monopolistic behavior to achieve sufficient punishment and warning.

  "At present, my country has not issued a relatively high amount of antitrust fines to Internet companies. Compared with European and American countries, in early December 2020, the European Union accused Amazon of using its scale, power and'big data' to seek third parties on its platform. For sellers’ unfair competition interests, Amazon may face a fine of up to 10% of its global turnover, up to 37 billion U.S. dollars. In addition, the EU has imposed more than 90 antitrust penalties on Google in the past three years. Billion dollars." Zhu Lieyu said.

  The "Anti-Monopoly Guidelines" released on February 7 this year became the guiding document for anti-monopoly in the Internet field.

  Zhang Zhaoan suggested that more regulatory documents on the specific operational level of anti-monopoly in the field of digital platforms should be implemented, and the guiding role of the "Anti-monopoly Guidelines" can be used faster and better to fill the regulatory gaps in anti-monopoly in the digital economy.

  "Anti-monopoly law enforcement agencies need to formulate specific operational-level regulatory documents to guide the law enforcement and justice in cases such as e-commerce platforms'choose one' and social platform refusal to trade. On the one hand, they deter monopolistic behavior in the digital economy and make the leading oligarch Monopoly platforms dare not actively violate the above-mentioned monopolistic behaviors; on the other hand, they also provide guidance on corporate compliance through specific operational guidance documents to better protect the legitimate rights and interests of small and medium-sized enterprises and consumers." Zhang Zhaoan said.

  Huang Qi believes that according to the characteristics of the Internet industry, an idea can give birth to an Internet company, but when the company is moving towards success, it will often be churned by the power of capital, and it is very likely that it will be merged by the power of capital. Small companies Unable to resist, you can only become a part of a big company, which is the so-called "no grass grows under the big tree."

The anti-monopoly in the Internet field will also stimulate innovation.

  The revision of the anti-monopoly law will also become the focus of the delegate committee this year.

  Zhang Zhaoan suggested adding more legal provisions in the field of digital economy in the revision of the anti-monopoly law, drawing on the "Digital Market Law (Draft)" introduced by the European Union, adding new infrastructure status provisions for super platforms, and giving them a fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory platform obligation.

  Zhu Lieyu proposed to improve my country's anti-monopoly system, clarify the identification procedures and judging standards for various types of monopoly behavior, and proposed the establishment of an anti-monopoly class action system.

(Author: Sun Weiwei)