Between politics and law: China's approaches to trade disputes under the World Trade Organization framework

Gu, J., 2006. Between politics and law: China's approaches to trade disputes under the World Trade Organization framework. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

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International law and international institutions are becoming increasingly significant in world politics. One of the most distinctive aspects of what is sometimes called the "legalisation process" is the "judicialization" of the dispute settlement mechanism of the World Trade Organization (WTO). This mechanism provides for compulsory adjudication of intergovernmental trade disputes. China joined the WTO in 2001 after 15 arduous years. While the implications of China's WTO accession have drawn considerable scholarly attention, there is little detailed analysis publicly available about China's participation in the WTO dispute settlement and how it handles the international trade disputes.

The thesis explores China's approaches to international trade disputes under the WTO framework. In doing so, the study develops a theoretical framework, which includes dialectic between law and politics to parallel the choice between legal and political means of resolving disputes.

The thesis explains firstly how especially from the 1960s there has been a convergence between legal theory and international relations theory (IR theory) about how to resolve international disputes, especially in trade. Legal theory saw dispute resolution increasingly as an ongoing process in an institutionalised relationship of which a particular dispute would only be a part. IR theory overcame classical realist theory's focus on state sovereignty in favour of two other theories: neo-liberal institutionalism and social constructivism, which both accepted that states would enter international regimes for rational choice reasons, to reduce transaction costs, and for identity reasons, to express the relative permanence of their relations of interdependence. So it is not surprising that the WTO as a trade regime should appear and that it should leave open the possibilities of legal and political resolution of trade disputes.

The thesis refines the problematic further. It uses social constructivist theories to understand both the WTO and the dispute settlement mechanism as institutional structures that are open enough to allow policy choices both in interpretation of WTO rules and in choice of dispute settlement procedure. Finally, the thesis provides a theory of trade policy-decision making in China that allows one to take full account of all the factors which could influence the policy decision-making process in terms of trade dispute settlement, in order to weigh the importance of Culture alongside other factors such as Interests, Policy Agenda, Institutional and Legal Framework. The thesis then proceeds to apply this theoretical framework to the empirical experience of China both in the legal and political practice of dispute resolution and provides a better understanding of China's engagement in the WTO and its approaches to the intergovernmental trade disputes. The central contributions of the thesis are therefore to original and very practical knowledge about China's trade strategy in relation to dispute settlement.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Gu, J.
Date: 2006
ISBN: 9781369316308
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 25 Sep 2020 15:13
Last Modified: 07 Sep 2023 09:29

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