The EU laments China’s antitrust probes image

It’s the second largest economy in the world and the biggest auto market globally. China has been making the headlines though because of its ongoing fight to enforce anti-monopoly laws.

The investigations have targeted numerous industries – from the automotive to the technology and food sectors, but even as the Chinese regulators say they have probed local companies as well, the ones making the headlines are mostly foreign brands. Tensions in the economic community are now climbing to new heights after European companies have started to lament and protest the way local authorities abuse their power, using intimidation tactics.

“Foreign companies in China used to enjoy a lot of incentives but there’s a sense that this era is gone,” said Kelly Liu, a consultant at the law firm of Carroll, Burdick & McDonough LLP in Beijing. “China is still a good investment in the mid-to-long term, versus mature markets, but the rules of the games have changed, and the environment is no longer as loose and incentives-driven as before.”

The European Union Chamber of Commerce recently released a statement, alleging that Chinese investigators are targeting foreign brands, skipping full hearings and pressing them to accept financial punishments. So far, Audi has been found guilty of breaching antitrust regulations, while BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Chrysler, Jaguar Land Rover, Toyota and Honda all reduced pricing of spare parts, services or vehicles.

Via Bloomberg