August 5, 2021

China offers a masterclass in how to humble big tech, right?

ANTITRUST USED to be as American as apple pie. The Boston Tea Party was, in part, a protest against the monopoly of the British East India Company. The word itself stems from the trusts, such as Standard Oil, that lorded it over the American economy in the 19th century. For stretches of the 20th it became America’s charter not just for free enterprise, but for political freedom. Contrast this with China, a Communist dictatorship whose AntiMonopoly Law, introduced in 2008, has more often than not been used only to cudgel foreign firms. In such hands, it is easy to dismiss trustbusting as Orwellian gobbledygook.

And yet suddenly antitrust in China has come to life in the way police internal affairs have done thanks to the British cop show “Line of Duty”: as a source of unending fear and fascination, carried out by agencies with impenetrable acronyms and a keenness for…

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