US regulators and businesses have spoken out against an antitrust enforcement
push by Chinese authorities as the issue emerges as a potential new friction
point in relations between the world’s two largest economies.
Foreign investors in China are increasingly concerned that they are being targeted in official investigations of pricing practices, such as one aimed at baby formula manufacturers earlier this year.
“China is wielding its antitrust law in a discriminatory
manner targeting foreign companies,” said Jeremie Waterman, executive director for China policy at the US Chamber of Commerce, the largest US business lobby group.
美国最大的商业游说组织美国商会(US Chamber of Commerce)中国政策研究部门的执行主任王杰(Jeremie Waterman)表示：“中国正在针对外国企业歧视性地挥舞反垄断法。”
In an unusually direct speech in Beijing last month, which raised hopes that US policy makers were giving the issue greater attention, Maureen Ohlhausen, a Republican commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission, said that “political decisions” should have no place in antitrust reviews. The FTC conducts antitrust reviews in the US alongside the justice department.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Ms Ohlhausen said there needed to be greater transparency over China’s decisions. “If the Chinese make a decision to impose a remedy or block a deal it can be hard for outsiders to know what was the main motivating factor in that,” she said.
Despite Ms Ohlhausen’s intervention last month, US officials have generally been reluctant to confront China over antitrust rules, despite being sympathetic to complaints that deals were being unfairly blocked or approved with tough conditions. The matter has not been raised in bilateral economic and trade talks between Beijing and Washington.
Chinese companies and officials have also questioned whether their investments in the US are welcome. US lawmakers used a congressional hearing to raise concerns about Shuanghui’s proposed $4.7bn purchase of Smithfield pork, the largest Chinese takeover of a US company, which is still in the balance.