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The world is witnessing one of the greatest economic expansions in history. After little more than 25 years since it began to modernize its economy, China has catapulted itself to being the world’s fourth-largest economy, and it now consumes more than 40% of the world’s production of cement and uses more than 50% of the world’s construction cranes. Its growth rates over the past decade are two or three times those of the United States, and it is hard to find anyone who expects that to change anytime soon. China’s emerging capitalist economy offers investors the chance for exceptional returns on investment. In fact, China recently surpassed the United States as the leading destination for foreign direct investment, and U.S. direct investments in China on a historical-cost basis rose from $11.5 billion in 2003 to $15.4 billion in 2004. For large U.S. companies, it is not a question of if they will invest in China, but rather when and where. China may this year enact its Anti-Monopoly Law It therefore is not surprising that China’s new Anti-Monopoly Law, which could be enacted as early as this year, is of significant interest to U.S. companies. They are hoping for a clear and economically rational antitrust policy that will allow them to better navigate the often unfamiliar, and unpredictable, Chinese economic and regulatory system. Unfortunately, there is some bad news for these companies: China is extremely unlikely to adopt a transparent, rational and efficiency-enhancing antitrust law on its first try. Instead, the law will likely produce a nontrivial amount of confusion, uncertainty and inefficiency when it is eventually interpreted and enforced. Here are six reasons why it may take a while for China to get its antitrust law right (or as good as those of other more developed antitrust regimes).

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