The Negotiation

In this episode of The Negotiation, we speak with Angela Zhang, Associate Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Chinese Law at the University of Hong Kong. Angela is also the author of Chinese Antitrust Exceptionalism: How the Rest of China Challenges Global Regulation. We discuss what anti-trust is and the relationship it has between business and government, globally, and its influence on big tech companies both in the US and in China. We also discuss the main consequences of China’s ascent on the global antitrust policy landscape, what the West usually gets wrong about how Chinese policy is formed, as well as the delay of Alibaba’s IPO and how Huawei is caught in the middle of the US-China antitrust policy tug of war. Enjoy!

Show Notes

Topics Discussed and Key Points:
●      What exactly is “antitrust” and why is it so important in the relationship between business and government globally?
●      What has China’s relationship with antitrust been historically, and have the events of 2008 and 2013 affected antitrust enforcement?
●      The conversations around antitrust at a time when big tech companies both in the U.S. and China are more influential than they have ever been
●      Why Angela titled her book “Chinese Antitrust Exceptionalism”
●      The main consequences of China’s ascent on the global antitrust policy landscape
●      What the West often gets wrong about how Chinese policy is formed
●      Is the delay of Alibaba’s IPO due to the current state of China’s antitrust policy?
●      How Huawei is being affected by China’s antitrust policy
●      The future of U.S-China relations
Episode Summary:
Today on The Negotiation, we speak with Angela Huyue Zhang, Associate Professor of Law at The University of Hong Kong and former Senior Lecturer in Competition Law at King’s College London. An expert on Chinese law, Angela Zhang has written extensively on Chinese antitrust enforcement.
Angela is the Director of the Centre for Chinese Law, which promotes legal scholarship with the aim to develop a deeper understanding of China and facilitate dialogue between East and West. She is the author of Chinese Antitrust Exceptionalism: How the Rise of China Will Challenge Global Regulation (2021).
Angela’s research has helped her become a four-time recipient of the Concurrence Antitrust Writing Award, which honors the best antitrust papers published in academic journals each year.
Antitrust, which Angela defines as “an area of law that mainly deals with the anticompetitive effects arising from monopoly”, is an incredibly powerful tool for governments to rein in big monopolies—particularly big tech in the modern world.
With its state-owned economy, it was debated for a long time whether China should have an antitrust law put in place at all. But one was eventually established in 2007, in large part due to the influx of foreign multinational companies that leave domestic businesses (mostly small enterprises in those years) at risk of being left behind.
Angela describes the interdependent relationship between how China regulates and how China is regulated. She also explains why, through its sway over global antitrust policy, China is “nudging” big tech companies to become more integrated.
Angela speaks on recent and current issues surrounding antitrust and the clamping down of various big tech companies, including former President Trump’s actions against TikTok and WeChat, the delay of Alibaba’s IPO, and the Huawei situation.
Finally, Angela gives her optimistic take on the future of China’s relationship with the West.
Key Quotes:
“Antitrust is an area of law that mainly deals with the anticompetitive effects arising from monopoly. But I have to clarify that having a monopoly power does not necessarily mean that a firm is in violation of antitrust law. Antitrust law only intervenes when the monopoly firm has abused its power, say by exploiting its consumers or its suppliers or have excluded competitors to the detriment of consumer welfare.”
“The fundamental feature of the Chinese bureaucracy is that power is fragmented: Different agencies have a very specific scope of functions. At the same time, the division of labor is not entirely clear; so, there can be overlapping duties over a specific sector or a specific company, and that could potentially give rise to conflicts and competition among agencies. Turf wars are very common in Chinese regulation.”
“In terms of how China regulates, its government structure is both concentrated and decentralized. You can see pervasive state influence and fierce competition among Chinese firms at the same time. That makes China an elusive target for regulation.”

What is The Negotiation?

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The Negotiation is an interview show that showcases those hard-to-find success stories and chats with the incredible leaders behind them, teasing out the nuances and digging into the details that can make market growth in APAC a winning proposition.