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China issues record antitrust fine

SAMR sheds further light on its position towards the online sector.

On 10 April, SAMR, China’s antitrust authority, imposed a record-breaking fine (RMB18.228 billion (USD2.8bn)) on Chinese e-commerce group Alibaba for abuse of dominance by imposing exclusive dealing obligations on merchants operating on its e-commerce platform. 

Not only does this decision – SAMR’s first major antitrust decision in recent years, likely to set standards for future e-commerce platform cases – signal increased scrutiny of and enforcement in the online sector in China by both SAMR and other Chinese authorities, but also it marks the beginning of a new era in China’s antitrust enforcement, with a more assertive SAMR. 

Our client alert sets the decision in context and looks at the key lessons to be learned from it.