By  on June 2, 2009

BEIJING — China’s first antimonopoly law has raised trade tensions in recent months, as international businesses try to negotiate new territory for mergers and other deals. Despite some red flags, legal experts say there is no hard evidence the law will be used as a purely protectionist trade tool.

Since the new law came into effect Aug. 1, China’s antimonopoly body has asserted its authority in four separate cases, but has reviewed without public comment a total of 40 deals. The lack of transparency about reviews is partly to blame for heightened fears over the possibility of the government using the law as a trade protection measure, said Nathan Bush, a Beijing-based antitrust attorney. “The Chinese authorities at [the Ministry of Commerce] have waded into a very difficult area of economic policy,” said Bush. “For all the criticism, they have done a remarkable job of coming a long way in a short period.”

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