The State Administration for Market Regulation (“SAMR”) and Shanghai Administration for Market Regulation (“Shanghai AMR”) successively issued two administrative decisions punishing two Internet platform companies for engaging in “either-or choice” practices (a type of exclusive dealing arrangement) on their in-platform merchants. On April 13, 2021, SAMR, Cyberspace Administration, and State Taxation Administration also held an administrative guidance meeting with 34 platform undertakings, urging them to conduct comprehensive self-inspection and rectify any potential anticompetitive practices or behavior within one month. Some platform undertakings have issued their commitments, promising not to engage in anticompetitive practices.
These two decisions did not only provide guidance on “either-or choice” practices in the Internet field, more importantly, they illustrate the enforcement trend towards Internet companies in abuse of dominance cases, which appears to have changed tremendously since the so-call “3Q war” era in year 2014, in China. In this article, we examine two administrative decisions to ascertain how the recent enforcement trend in China is evolving, and we pay particular attention to how, during an investigation, the competition authorities in China are defining the relevant market and how they would establish whether an Internet company has a dominance position.