SHANGHAI, Sept 2 (Reuters) - China's latest antitrust probes, which have hit firms such as Microsoft and Volkswagen AG, are not protectionist tools that favour domestic firms, an official of the country's price regulator told the official China Daily.
In an interview, Xu Kunlin, director general of price supervision and the anti-monopoly bureau at the National Development Reform Commission, reiterated that the agency was giving equal treatment to local and foreign companies.
The probes, which have scrutinized at least 30 foreign firms so far as China seeks to enforce a 2008 anti-monopoly law, have worried U.S. companies enough to appeal to Washington, while the European Union Chamber of Commerce said last month they appeared to be unfairly targeting foreign firms.
"Such accusations are groundless and baseless," the China Daily quoted Xu as saying. "Some of the NDRC monopoly investigations involve overseas multinationals, but that does not mean that we are targeting them.
"Some business operators in China have failed to adjust their practices in accordance with the anti-monopoly law," he added. "Others have a clear understanding of the laws, but they take the chance that they may escape punishment."
He said the NDRC was not targeting any specific industries and was also handling cases involving state-owned firms and Chinese private sector companies.
The automotive industry has been in focus for the last two or three years, he said. Last month, the NDRC slapped a record fine of $201 million on 12 Japanese automakers it said had engaged in price manipulation. (Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Kazunori Takada and Clarence Fernandez)