Rule Setters for Belt & Road? China’s New International Commercial Courts

20. March 2020

In June 2018, China opened two International Commercial Courts (CICC) in Shenzhen and Xi’an, which were widely received by the international public in terms of challenging the dominance of so far mainly western-led institutions for the resolution of commercial disputes. These courts were heralded by Chinese judicial officials as innovative hubs for flexible dispute resolution that would provide crucial services needed for the further development of the BRI. Even though the unique structure of these courts as one-forum-stops for commercial dispute resolution may be considered a deviceful tool for resolving BRI disputes, their role as agents in China’s quest for a heightened influence in shaping the international economic legal order may globally be of even more significance. The Supreme People’s Court as responsible agency for the CICCs issued a normative document late in December 2019 outlining the purpose of these courts as inter alia tools for promoting China’s rising position in the international legal discourse. The CICC’s adjudicative work should therefore be measured not only from the perspective of effective and fair dispute resolution for BRI conflicts but also as part of China’s agenda in using the BRI’s entangled legalities across different jurisdictions to shape legal developments outside China.

Daniel Sprick and Nora Sausmikat have investigated the courts and their impact in terms of their influence on the global order and presented their study to the EU Parliament. You can find it here.

Labour Rights Protection of Foreign Employees in China

17. February 2020

Björn Ahl, Pilar-Paz Czoske and Cui Xu looked at the level of labour rights protection of foreign nationals in China. Their study discovered considerable differences of levels of protection provided by Chinese courts to foreign nationals in labour disputes. In general, courts in Beijing and Guangzhou extended significantly better legal protection to foreign employees than courts in Shanghai. Both groups, foreign employees with and without a valid work permit, do not receive the same level of labour rights protection as Chinese nationals. The legislative framework that governs employment relations between local employers and foreign employees is still based on the assumption that foreign employees do not need comprehensive statutory protections of labour rights. International law that aims at protecting migrant workers acknowledges the equal treatment of nationals and non-nationals with regard of the protection against unjustified dismissal as a minimum standard. The Chinese legislator should consider bringing the current legislation in conformity with international standards.

The study is available on https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3507529.