Caixin
Oct 20, 2021 05:14 AM
ECONOMY

Help Wanted: China to Hire More Trustbusters

Established in March 2018, the SAMR and its Anti-Monopoly Bureau became the country’s top antitrust regulator after a merger of three separate law enforcement agencies
Established in March 2018, the SAMR and its Anti-Monopoly Bureau became the country’s top antitrust regulator after a merger of three separate law enforcement agencies

China’s top market watchdog is hiring to expand its antitrust task force as the government steps up scrutiny of anti-competitive practices.

The State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) posted 33 positions in its 2022 civil service intake, including 18 designated for antitrust positions, public records for the annual national civil service examination showed.

It is the first public recruitment launched by the SAMR’s Anti-Monopoly Bureau, an agency set up in 2018 to oversee antitrust efforts after a major enforcement reorganization. The world’s second-largest economy is expanding a crackdown on unfair competition that has shaken tech giants including Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings.

The new hires will engage in anti-monopoly policy research, anti-monopoly law enforcement, and anti-monopoly reviews related to concentration of business operators, according to a statement by the administration. Candidates should have educational background in economics, finance or law, with sound English language capability and working experience in related fields.

The SAMR didn’t publish any recruitment for the Anti-Monopoly Bureau in the past two years, Caixin learned.

Established in March 2018, the SAMR and its Anti-Monopoly Bureau became the country’s top antitrust regulator after a merger of three separate law enforcement agencies. The formation of the SAMR’s Anti-Monopoly Bureau marked an important step in China’s consolidation of market oversight and empowerment of antitrust regulators.

Previously, responsibility for scrutinizing competition violations was shared by the Anti-Monopoly Bureau of the Ministry of Commerce, which regulated mergers; the Price Supervision and Anti-Monopoly Bureau of the National Development and Reform Commission, which handled price-related monopolistic behavior; and the Anti-Monopoly and Anti-Unfair Competition Bureau of the State Administration of Industry and Commerce, which dealt with non-price-related cases.

According to an organizational restructure published in September 2018, the Anti-Monopoly Bureau has 10 subdivisions with a total of 52 employees. Experts have expressed concerns over the small team’s capacity to deal with a rising number of antitrust probes.

China is taking a tougher stance against anti-competitive practices, especially in the sprawling internet sector. In a December meeting, the Politburo, the Communist Party’s top decision-making body, for the first time vowed to clamp down on monopolies and “disorderly capital expansion.”

In April, the SAMR fined Alibaba a record 18.2 billion yuan ($2.8 billion) for violating antitrust laws, marking a seismic moment in the government’s quest to rein in monopolistic behavior by online platforms. That was followed by more probes and punishments of big companies including social media giant Tencent and online food delivery service Meituan.

On Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping again vowed to correct practices that harm the interests of consumers and hinder fair competition and to prevent monopoly in the technology sector.

Contact reporter Han Wei (weihan@caixin.com) and editor Bob Simison (hello@caixin.com)

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