China sacks anti-monopoly adviser over Qualcomm payment: Xinhua

Wed Aug 13, 2014 11:00am EDT
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BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese academic who sat on a government anti-monopoly advisory committee has been sacked, official news agency Xinhua reported on Wednesday, saying he had taken payments from U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm Inc.

Xinhua said Zhang Xinzhu, a member of the top government think-tank the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the cabinet's anti-monopoly experts committee, took "huge rewards" from Qualcomm, itself the subject of an antitrust investigation.

An array of industries has come under the spotlight as China intensifies efforts to bring companies into compliance with an anti-monopoly law enacted in 2008.

Calls and emails to Qualcomm's media relations department in Beijing seeking comment went unanswered. There was no immediate response to emails requesting comment sent to the company's U.S. headquarters in San Diego.

In a short, emailed response to questions from Reuters, Zhang wrote: "(My) individual strength is too insignificant, and the machine of state too powerful. There can only be silence".

Xinhua is the state news agency. Official announcements are sometimes made via Xinhua, rather than government departments.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), one of China's antitrust regulators, is investigating Qualcomm's local subsidiary.

The NDRC said in February the chipmaker was suspected of overcharging and abusing its market position in wireless communication standards, allegations which could see it hit with record fines of more than $1 billion.

Xinhua said "certain multinational companies" had been attempting to delay such probes into them, including spending money to gain support on experts groups and complaining of being picked on for being foreign.   Continued...

Visitors walk past the Qualcomm stand at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, February 24, 2014. REUTERS/Albert Gea