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CORDIS - Resultados de investigaciones de la UE

China, Law, and Development

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - CLD (China, Law, and Development)

Período documentado: 2022-01-01 hasta 2023-06-30

Globalization, disruption, post-globalization. The COVID-19 pandemic and states’ responses are transforming the world by freezing and rerouting global supply chains, blocking the movement of peoples, and shifting or concretizing states’ alliances. These changes have led to national debates over policies regarding health, security, freedom, and privacy. All eyes are watching as different political systems and models of governance, whether democratic, authoritarian, or in-between, respond to socio-economic crisis. Whereas post-2008 financial crisis, China was poised to be the champion of economic globalization, the pandemic has significantly altered the landscape of global trade, investment, and humanitarian aid. The study of how China is engaging with developing countries and international organizations has never been more vital, particularly as the world enters a new stage of recovery and regrowth.

The “China, Law and Development” project (CLD), funded by the European Research Council, is a 5-year, interdisciplinary and multi-sited research project that aims to understand the role of law in China’s global development, including China’s shaping of international law and the internal legal and regulatory orders of host states. This project breaks new ground in analyzing Chinese approaches to “law and development” in recipient or host states in the global South, including its activity in international legal, development, and financial organizations. The research emphasizes a rigorously empirical design with the aim of providing neutral academic analysis on one of the most important questions of the twenty-first century: at a time when economic paradigms are being recast in real time, what does China’s role in the law and development field mean for the world?

There are two objectives:
1. To study China’s approach to development and law by conducting the first systematic analysis of the impact of Chinese companies, state representatives and civil society on international economic law and the legal systems of host states.
2. To develop comparative research to theorize how China’s approach suggests a type of order that extends through the harmonization of macro-regional and local regulatory processes.

Case Studies are being developed in regions with high volumes of Chinese investment. These case studies, in Central Asia (Tajikistan), SE Asia (Vietnam), Africa (Ethiopia), and South Asia (Pakistan), are being conducted by the three researchers and the PI. In addition, four experienced Development Specialists are conducting fieldwork in countries from Vanuatu to Hungary that will contribute additional micro-studies. Overall, these studies will a) develop rich empirical data on the impact of Chinese capital in fragile legal and regulatory environments to understand how both Chinese economic actors and counterparts in the host state are reacting to the new normal, and b) develop a comparative research design to theorize types of order that extend through a conjuncture of multi-scalar, cross-border, regional, and local processes.
January 2019 - June 2023

Most broadly, the CLD project is aimed at understanding and explaining China’s emerging approach to creating international order. The Covid-19 pandemic has both disrupted Chinese globalization but has also accentuated existing cleavages in the international system with China promoting its version of governance and development more assertively than ever. As a result, the CLD project could not be more timely.

Despite the severe disruption caused to fieldwork by Covid-19, the CLD project has achieved a number of goals. An impressive international and multi-disciplinary team of researchers has been conducting fieldwork in jurisdictions across Eurasia and beyond.

Early in the project, the PI authored several major concept pieces for the project which provide the basis for on-going empirical research, published a number of peer-reviewed journal articles detailing initial results, and wrote journalistic articles explaining the research to non-academic audiences.

Work during 2020 and 2021 concentrated on data collection. Despite restrictions imposed by the pandemic, the PI and researchers managed to conduct fieldwork for case studies in their respective field sites of Pakistan, Tajikistan, Vietnam, and Ethiopia. Work in 2022 focused on analysis and write-up, and the emphasis has now moved to publication. In addition, the Development Specialists are working on the micro-case studies in countries from Vanuatu to Hungary that will add considerable value to the project with respect to cross-country comparative analyses.

The CLD network has also been expanded to include over 40 early-career researchers and practitioners from around the world. These Research Associates (RA) are based in China, Central Asia, Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe and SE Asia, and are contributing their expertise through activities such as online Research Briefs (52 to date), collaborative writings including 7 papers in a recent Special Issue on "China's Global Capital and the Coronavirus: Views from Comparative Law and Regulation", and a forthcoming Casebook on "Chinese Outbound Investment" which will provide open access case studies for use in teaching in law and business schools.

The project website and linked Twitter accounts continue to provide up-to-date information on project outputs and two email discussion lists have been developed to promote links and share resources with the broader community; one for early career researchers working on CLD-related topics and one for more senior academics, lawyers and practitioners.

In collaboration with leading law schools and academic organizations around the world, the CLD team continues to hold virtual events to create a platform for discussion on China’s ascendant role in developing economies. Most recently, a workshop on "Chinese Law and Development: Views from Asia and Beyond” was co-hosted with the Centre for Asian Legal Studies at the National University of Singapore (May 2023) and a complementary event will be co-hosted with the Center for the Study of Contemporary China at the University of Pennsylvania in September 2023.
This project breaks new ground in analyzing Chinese approaches to “law and development” in recipient or host states in the global South. The research emphasizes a rigorously empirical design and provides neutral academic analysis on one of the most important questions of the twenty-first century: what does China’s emergence in the law and development field mean for the world?

Many project publications (including "Legal Systems Inside Out: American Legal Exceptionalism and China's Dream of Legal Cosmopolitanism," “The Soft Power of Chinese Law,” “China and the International Legal Order,” “Chinese Law and Development,” “The Beijing Effect,” and “The Forms and Architects of China’s International Legal Order”) are significant achievements in that they effectively create new fields of research at the intersection of law and social sciences. Consequently, they advance the field beyond the current state of the literature. We expect that these outputs will become foundational to understanding the role of law in China’s economic and geopolitical rise.
Chinese Investments (credit Matthew S. Erie)