CORDIS - EU research results

China, Law, and Development

Project description

A comparative look at the ‘China model’ of law and development

The coronavirus pandemic has rerouted global supply chains, suspended international labour, and affected state alliances. These changes have incited debates about good governance regarding economic wellbeing, public health, security, and freedom. China has emerged as a champion of globalisation and provides public goods to the developing world. The EU-funded CLD project focuses on the role of law in China’s version of transnational governance. China appears to both build on existing legal infrastructures (courts, contracts, and private law systems) and innovating alternatives, for example, in development finance and dispute resolution. This multi-disciplinary project generates empirical data about China’s approach to building order and assesses its impact on emerging economies.


The world is in the midst of a sea change in approaches to development. The rise of nationalist politics in the U.S. U.K. and Europe have questioned commitments to global governance at the same time that China has emerged as a champion of globalization, a turn of geo-political events that would have been unfathomable ten years ago. Through its own multi-lateral institutions, China is setting a new agenda for development from Europe to Oceania. China’s approach differs from Anglo/Euro/American approaches to “law and development” (LD). Whereas LD orthodoxy has sought to improve legal institutions in poor states, Chinese do not foster rule of law abroad. Instead, Chinese view law as one set of rules, among others, to facilitate economic transactions and not to foster democratization. This distinction has sparked a global debate about the so-called “China model” as an alternative to LD. Yet there is little empirical data with which to assess the means and ends of China’s expanded footprint, a question with long-term implications for much of the developing world. This project addresses that problem by proposing that even if Chinese cross-border development does not operate through transparent rules, it nonetheless has its own notion of order. The project adopts a multi-sited, mixed method, and interdisciplinary approach—at the intersection of comparative law, developmental studies, and legal anthropology—to understand the nature of China’s order. The project has two objectives:
1. To establish the conceptual bases for the study of China’s approach to law and development by developing the first systematic study of the impacts of Chinese investment on the legal systems of developing economies.
2. To experiment with a comparative research design to theorize how China’s approach suggests a type of order that extends through a conjuncture of regional and local processes and manifests itself differently in diverse contexts.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 499 381,00
OX1 2JD Oxford
United Kingdom

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South East (England) Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Oxfordshire
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 499 381,00

Beneficiaries (1)