Remember the probe into China Telecom and China Unicom for alleged anti-competitive behaviour?
Fifteen months on, it remains the only such case and its status is very much a mystery.
A long piece from the Beijing News (posted here on Sina Tech) quotes an anonymous source as saying the investigation “has met with considerable resistance.”
No surprise there. Anti-trust researcher Wang Xiaoye says that the facts of the case are clear. If this had happened in the EU, it already would have been settled, with heavy penalties imposed on the operators.
The two Chinese operators do face potential fines of billions of yuan, but of course the case has to be settled first.
Technically, there isn’t even a formal record of a case. It came to light through a CCTV interview with a National Development and Reform Commission official. The NDRC is investigating, but has posted nothing on its website. Neither operator has mentioned the case in its financial reports, or made any contingencies for it.
The two operators have reportedly asked for the case to be dropped, and have promised to cut their broadband access fees (though that presumably would only make it harder for their competitors).
In other words, it’s business as usual in Chinese telecoms; the operators and the MIIT a law unto themselves in an environment of zero transparency.
A Zhejiang University professor, Zhao Wei, is quoted in the story as calling this ‘Chinese-style anti-trust.’
This maybe history, but it's worth recalling because the market is liberalising to allow in MVNOs. The MIIT has had almost nothing to say about how it will guarantee the newcomers access to incumbent networks or protect them from price discrimination. Etcetera, etcetera.
Happy New Year of the Snake. Here’s to more of the same.