Chinese Law and Development

March 10, 2020

Harvard International Law Journal 62(1) forthcoming.

Available at SSRN here.

Abstract

The trade war between the United States (U.S.) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has attracted much attention. However, bilateral U.S.-China relations occur against the broader backdrop of the U.S.’s deglobalization and the advent of Chinese economic globalization. As China has emerged as the second largest capital-exporter in the world, the analysis must attune to how China is influencing legal development outside of China, particularly in developing countries. Whereas scholars have examined China’s use of trade and investment law, inadequate attention has been paid to how the PRC grapples with the domestic law of host states. As the PRC seeks to protect its investments abroad, it is confronted with questions of law and development, yet there is little understanding of China’s approach or what it means for host states and global governance.

This Article seeks to fill that gap. “Chinese law and development” (CLD) consists of transnational law, some of which builds on legal infrastructures from the U.S. and some of which is Chinese, along with extralegal and nonlegal norms. These normative orders mitigate risk as a precondition to promoting China’s interests overseas. Drawing on three years of fieldwork and nearly 150 interviews in China and in host states, this Article presents the first empirical study of CLD to articulate an analytical theory to understand this phenomenon. In assessing CLD, I query whether CLD is good for developing states, and identify a research agenda for the study of the legal and regulatory dimensions of Chinese economic globalization.