On October 13, 2022, the Sino-German Legal Cooperation Program of GIZ, commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, in cooperation with the East China University of Politics and Law, hosted a dialogue event on digitalization issues in antitrust law. The core content of the event was the new legal regulations with which both Germany and China have recently responded to the challenges of digitalization.
At the beginning of the first block of the event, which served to provide an overview of both antitrust systems, Prof. Wang Xianlin (Shanghai Jiao Tong University), a member of the Expert Council of the State Council’s Antimonopoly Committee, systematically explained the background, content and characteristics of the first revision of China’s Antimonopoly Law. In doing so, he emphasized the importance of a legally protected fair competition in China, which was born with the transformation from a planned economy to a market economy and has grown immensely with the large tech companies of the past decade. Prof. Körber (University of Cologne) then presented the content and features of the ninth and tenth GWB amendments, which added numerous digitalization aspects to the Law Against Restraints of Competition (“GWB”), and gave a future-oriented analysis of the eleventh and twelfth GWB amendments.
In the second block of the event, Mrs. Hossenfelder, Head of the Department for Fundamental Issues of Antitrust Law from the German Federal Cartel Office, and Prof. Wang Xiaoye (Shenzhen University) focused on the application of the new legal provisions in recent cases. On the German side, the presentation focused on the extended abuse control by the Federal Cartel Office: The new § 19a GWB empowers the Federal Cartel Office to prohibit specific competition-relevant conduct of a company after determining the company’s paramount significance for competition across markets.
After the presentations, the participants discussed fundamental issues with the speakers, such as the balance between combating monopolies on the one hand and promoting innovation on the other; in addition, the exact wording of some of the new regulations was examined in more detail and, in the case of differences between German and Chinese law, the motives of the respective legislators were highlighted. The lively discussion and the variety of the discussed topics displayed the great interest on both sides in further and deeper cooperation in the field of antitrust law. Against this background, as well as in view of the dynamic progress and economic relevance of the topic, especially for German companies in China, the GIZ legal cooperation program will continue to promote exchange in this area in the future.