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China and the World Trade Organization: A Long March towards the Rule of Law

By Esther Lam


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Joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) enables China to reform its legal order and to move towards a system incorporating major principles of the rule of law. The WTO also serves as an external impetus that guides contemporary Chinese legal reform and orients it in ways that domestic forces alone could not achieve and sustain.

Much discussion on the WTO and the Chinese legal system has focused on the issue of compliance ― whether the Chinese legal system has the capacity to fulfill China’s WTO accession commitments. The focus of this work is less concerned with compliance issues per se, but rather with the extent to which the WTO’s requirements vis-à-vis China actually affect the Chinese legal system. The fine difference between the two approaches lies in the fact that efforts by the Chinese government to meet its WTO obligations necessarily impact the Chinese legal order and its way of functioning, even if their end results may or may not lead to full compliance with what is required of it by the WTO.

This timely work exposes many behind-the-scene dealings and relies on valuable information that is not publicly available. Not only does it preserve for the historical record important details of the Chinese WTO accession, it also sheds light on the travaux préparatoires of China’s accession agreement and the negotiation history of important issues, some of which remain relevant and highly contentious today.

As expressed by WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy in his foreword to the book, ‘through this work, Esther Lam succeeds in demonstrating how WTO membership can benefit both the acceding country and the wider WTO family of nations.’

Last Updated 10/05/2009
Update Frequency As Needed
Product Line Kluwer Law International
ISBN 9789041131447
SKU 10058889-0001
Table of Contents
List of Abbreviations Foreword by WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy Acknowledgements Introduction Part I Understanding the Chinese Legal Order Chapter 1 Burden or Assets? Chinese Legal History at a Glance Section I The Ancient Chinese Legal System Section II Basic Features of the Traditional Chinese Legal System Section III The Legal Reforms of the Early 20th Century Concluding Remarks Chapter 2 The Pre-WTO Chinese Legal System after 1949 Section I Communist Influence: Mao and Cultural Revolution Section II Economic and Legal Reform under Deng Xiaoping’s Rule Concluding Remarks Part II China’s Long March to the WTO: Motivations, Process and Challenges Chapter 3 Motivations Section I Trade and Economic Considerations Section II Non-Trade Considerations Chapter 4 China’s WTO Accession Process Section I The WTO Accession Mechanism Section II An Unusual Journey - China as a Special Case Section III Why Did It Take So Long? Major Stumbling Blocks Chapter 5 Accession Commitments and Systemic Requests Section I The Implementation of WTO Rules in the Chinese Legal System Section II WTO Challenges to the Chinese Legal System Concluding Remarks Part III The Impact of China’s WTO Membership on the Chinese Legal System Chapter 6 Changing Relationship between Legal Authority and Political Power Section I Redefining the Role between the Market and the Government Section II A Stronger Role of Law in Policy-making Concluding Remarks Chapter 7 Incorporating Major Rule of law Principles into the Chinese Legal System Section I Key Relevant Rule of Law Principles Section II Assessment of Four Rule of law Principles in China Concluding Remarks Chapter 8 Challenges Ahead: Opportunities and Risks Section I Opportunities for Positive Development Section II Risks and Challenges Section III Conclusion: China’s Long March Forward Appendix Bibliography Index