A Nissan joint venture has been fined 123 million yuan ($19.3 million) by Chinese regulators on price-fixing charges in a long-running probe of the auto industry that has snared global automakers.
Dongfeng Nissan Auto Sales Co. violated anti-monopoly law by improperly enforcing minimum prices, according to the economic planning agency of the southern province of Guangdong. The company is a joint venture between Nissan Motor Co. and Dongfeng Motor Co., one of China's biggest automakers.
Other foreign auto brands including Mercedes Benz and Chrysler have been fined for similar infractions after customers complained they charged excessively high prices for vehicles and replacement parts.
Setting minimum retail prices is common in other countries but Chinese regulators reject it as a violation of free market competition.
Business groups say the secretive and abrupt way the investigations are conducted is alienating foreign companies. Regulators deny foreign companies are treated unfairly.
Anti-monopoly regulators also have investigated technology suppliers and dairies over the past two years in an apparent effort to force down prices.
In February, U.S. chipmaker Qualcomm Inc. was fined 6 billion yuan ($975 million) on charges it abused its dominance in wireless technology to charge "unfairly high" licensing fees.