Chinese Competition Law - The Year 2015 in Review

For Chinese competition law, the year 2015 was a "mixed bag" of developments characterized by both change and continuity.

In terms of change, the pace in law enforcement seems to have slowed. After the landmark Qualcomm decision at the beginning of the year, China's three competition authorities took somewhat of a "lower profile" in 2015. Instead, they stepped up investigations against state-owned enterprises and government-mandated anti-competitive conduct, and expanded their normative efforts by drafting competition law implementation guidelines.

In terms of continuity, certain developments in 2015 reflect consistency with prior enforcement trends and policies. For example, a clear link with pre-2015 developments was that high technology and intellectual property rights continued to be enforcement targets. Continuity was also visible in enforcement actions in the automobile industry and against international cartel cases.

Going into 2016 and beyond, we would expect that the Chinese competition authorities finalize their guidelines drafting projects and go back full-steam to case handling. Hence, in retrospect, 2015 may be viewed as a year of transition for Chinese competition law.

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