13 January 2022
October to December 2021
The final quarter of 2021 marks an extremely constructive season in the antitrust arena in China, where antitrust scrutiny over digital platforms clearly remained unabated. On the enforcement side, Meituan, the largest online food delivery platform in China, became the third tech firm (after Alibaba and Sherpa's) to be fined for abuse of dominance by imposing exclusive dealing, also known as "choose one from two" in the Chinese context. The fine was RMB 3,442,439,866 (USD 540,677,523), accounting for 3% of Meituan's revenue in FY 2020. Regarding merger control, 43 failure-to-file transactions made by Chinese tech companies and digital platforms, such as Alibaba, Baidu, JD.com, Didi and Meituan, were penalised by the Chinese antitrust authority ("SAMR") in the fourth quarter. In respect of policy support, SAMR set up the Competition Policy and Big Data Centre to conduct research on competition policies, particularly in response to antitrust issues posed by the platform economy. In addition, two sets of guidelines in relation to the classification of online platforms and implementation of obligations of online platforms were published by SAMR for consultation. Furthermore, a trade association, the China Association for Standardization, jointly with academic institutions and law firms, published a set of non-binding Draft Norms for Anti-Monopoly Compliance Management for Platform Undertakings, to facilitate digital platforms' full compliance with China's antitrust rules. Similarly, local antitrust authorities published antitrust compliance guidelines to assist platform players with establishing internal antitrust compliance systems.