One Belt One Road Disputes: Does China Have Dispute Resolution Methods Fit for Purpose?

AuthorJia Zuo
PositionBachelor of Law at Jilin University
Pages99-114
Vol. 5 One Belt One Road Disputes: Dispute Resolution Methods
99
One Belt One Road Disputes: Does China Have Dispute
Resolution Methods Fit for Purpose?
Jia Zuo*
INTRODUCTION
The One Belt One Road Initiative (‘OBORI’ or ‘OBOR’) is a top-level
project primarily aimed at increasing infrastructure output and investment. It has
been implemented in more than 60 countries across the world and has had a far-
reaching impact on transnational trade. In order to respond to the increasing need
for legal services to assist in the implementation process, China endeavours to
provide a fair and trustworthy legal environment by establishing innovative
international commercial courts in certain cities
1
and by reforming existing
international arbitration rules.
2
Meanwhile, there remain many challenges to
construct a collaborative legal system which covers a large range of jurisdictions,
legal customs, and business approaches. This essay contends that the Chinese
approach to arbitration and adjudication, since the launch of the OBORI, has
undergone a paradigm shift from a domestic approach towards a dynamic and
internationalised one. This is a result of the enhancement of the recognition and
enforcement of foreign arbitral awards, the introduction of ad hoc arbitration, and
the establishment of the China International Commercial Court (‘CICC’).
* Jia Zuo finished her Bachelor of Law at Jilin University, a top 10 law school in China.
She is currently studying MSc Law and Accounting at LSE, and has a broad interest in
international law, including international arbitration, international investment treaty,
international financial law.
1
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, ‘China Establishes I nternational Commercial Courts to
Handle Belt and Road Initiative Disputes’ (Oxford Law Faculty, 17 August 2018)
-law-blog/blog/2018/08/china-establishes-
international-commercial-courts-handle-belt-and> accessed 17 August 2019.
2
Weixia Gu, ‘Piercing the Veil of Arbi tration Reform in China: Promises, Pitfalls,
Patterns, Prognoses, and Prospects’ (Social Science Rese arch Network, 2018)
accessed 10 August
2019.
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However, to achieve China’s ambitious plan of promoting its dispute resolution
mechanism to an international level, it could further enhance the independence
and efficiency of its dispute settlement institutions.
The essay begins with an overview of China’s OBORI and the methods of
dispute resolution avail able. In the second section, it discusses a recent Chinese
arbitration case that signifies a revised approach by the Chinese courts:
encouraging the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards. The
second part of this section then analyses the newly promulgated rules regarding
ad hoc arbitration, which are considered an influential reform of China’s arbitration
law. Thirdly, the essay comments on China’s dispute resolution mechanism for
OBOR disputes by further assessing the advantages and disadvantages of the
establishment of the CICC. Finally, the essay concludes that further development
of more open and independent dispute resolution institutions will encourage
China’s broader cooperation in OBOR projects.
I. OBORI AND THE CONCEPT OF DISPUTE RESOLUTION
Experimenting with a radically new approach towards international trade
and investment,
3
the OBORI is different from previous free trade agreements in
that it provides an ambitious infrastructure-led economic integration plan.
4
Historically, the Silk Road marked an epochal period in encouraging profound
communication and intersection between East and West in terms of trade, culture,
and civilisation.
5
Analogously, the OBORI signifies a new stage in the
development of the Chinese economy, with its economic expansion westward
6
3
Davos World Economic Forum, ‘Global Future Council on the Future of International
Trade and Investment’ (2017) wef_davos_brief.pdf>
accessed 17 August 2019.
4
Julan Du and Yifei Zhang, ‘Does One Belt One Road Initiative Promote Chinese
Overseas Direct Investment?’ ( 2018) 47 China Economic Review 189, 191
accessed 13
August 2019.
5
Joshua J. Mark, ‘Silk Road’ (Ancient History Encyclopedia, 1 May 2018)
//www.ancient.eu/Silk_Road/> accessed 1 March 2020.
6
Maya Jasanoff, ‘The New Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan Review the Present and
Future of the World’ (The Guardian, 11 May 2019)
.theguardian.com/books/2019/may/11/new-silk-roads-peter-frankopan-
review> accessed 17 August 2019.

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