China’s approach to international law and the Belt and Road Initiative - perspectives from international investment law

Abstract

This dissertation examines China’s approach to international law. In order to do so, it compares the country’s stance on international dispute resolution in past and present times. After a first historical chapter outlining China’s changeable relationship with international adjudication, the thesis subsequently focuses on contemporary developments. The emphasis here is on international instruments and mechanisms that China uses to protect investments within the Belt and Road Initiative. This dissertation combines doctrinal analysis with concrete case studies and applies deductive as well as inductive methods. The study of the legal dimension of the initiative leads to the basic assumption that two coexisting regulatory complexes provide investment protection within the initiative. Accordingly, as a first complex, the dissertation analyses China’s design of investment protection treaties and China’s stance in the reform debate on the future of in-vestment arbitration. As an outcome, the analysis claims that even though the first complex does not relate specifically to the Belt and Road Initiative, this complex nevertheless has inextricable links to China’s approach in the initiative’s context. Soft law documents, which China has concluded with both state and non-state actors, and informal mechanisms of dispute resolution form the second regulatory complex. The study investigates their functions for investment protection in the Belt and Road Initiative. In an overall view of the two regulatory complexes, this dissertation finds that China uses strictly legal and rather political methods for investment protection. In the synopsis of this result with the findings obtained from the historical part, the study concludes that China follows a realist approach to international law

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