China's antitrust regulator has fined Japanese bearing makers NSK and NTN a combined (US$47m) for violating rules in the latest clamp down on alleged industry pricing practices.

Foreign companies claim they are being unfairly treated against their domestic rivals and partners is China steps up an anti-monopoly investigation that has so far seen a number of foreign carmakers cutting prices. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), which has primary responsibility for oversight of pricing, said it has completed an investigation into 12 Japanese companies and will penalise violators.

Anti-monopoly laws allow the Chinese government to impose fines of up to 10% of a company's annual revenue. The NDRC's investigation has looked at pricing practices of vehicles, after-sales maintenance and spare parts.

Bloomberg news service reported that Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota are among carmakers that have recently announced price cuts in the wake of the probe into more than a dozen carmakers.

The Europaan Union Chamber of Commerce, which has about 1,800 members, said last week that Chinese investigators were picking on foreign companies, pressuring them into accepting punishments and depriving them of full hearings. The American Chamber of Commerce in China has called for dialogue amid rising concerns among its members.

The Ministry of Commerce told Bloomberg that "there is no xenophobia" behind the investigations. The NDRC has said it is pursuing the investigations to uphold market order and protect consumer interests.