Research Handbooks in Comparative Law series
Edited by John Duns, Arlen Duke and Brendan Sweeney
Chapter 16: Competition law in China
Formally a socialist country that is still transitioning to a market economy, China has an economic and political history distinct from that of the countries where modern competition law originated. Prior to the commencement of economic reforms in the late 1970s, China’s economy operated under a centrally planned system, whereby the government’s planning agencies made production plans and set prices for the country’s vast number of state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Since the late 1970s, China has adopted a series of market-oriented reform measures, under which the government abolished or relaxed price controls, promoted foreign and private investment, and converted SOEs to commercial entities. These reform measures catapulted China onto the world stage, making China the second largest economy, next only to the United States (US), as of 2010. Concurrent with these sea changes in China’s economy, the Chinese government itself has seen its role redefined, dramatically so in certain cases. A number of government ministries overseeing specific economic sectors in the planned economy era were abolished or streamlined, and in their place emerged a regulatory structure aimed at separating the government’s ownership role from its regulatory role. Despite these liberalization efforts, the state still retains a significant degree of presence in China’s economy. The state still maintains price control over key products and services,owns the largest SOEs, which account for the majority of output in key sectors, and maintains strict market entry restrictions against private enterprises in key sectors.
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