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How Does ¡®China, Inc.¡¯ Challenge the Global Trade Governance? Mark Wu from Harvard Law School Discusses with Renmin Law School Faculty Members

On 12 December 2016, Mark Wu visited Renmin University Law School to deliver a lecture co-hosted by the Common Law Center and Renmin International Virtual Workshop (RUIVW). Mark Wu is currently teaching at Harvard Law School and has been an active participant in the discussion on the new global trade governance. Given the recent conflicts between China and US on trade issues, Wu¡¯s lecture attracts attention both from the faculty members and the students at Renmin Law School. Several Renmin law faculty members join the workshop, including Liyu HAN, Haijun JIN, Yongfan ZHANG, Bingwan XIONG and Rui GUO.

Wu¡¯s recent work ¡°The ¡®China, Inc.¡¯ Challenge to Global Trade Governance¡±, which is newly published on Harvard Journal of International Law, has steered the Chinese academic circle on many fronts. After Professor Guo, the host of the RUIVW series, expressed welcome and introduced Professor Wu¡¯s backgrounds in WTO policy circles as well as his academic achievements, Professor Wu started his presentation.

Wu shared his working experiences in China and explained how his early career as an economist for the World Bank and a former U.S. trade negotiator helped him to understand the Chinese economic and political system. He then pointed out that, while China and the world have been benefiting from China¡¯s accession to the WTO since 2001, an economic system with Chinese characteristics forms an ongoing challenge. Having quickly clarified that state-owned enterprise is not an earmark of China¡¯s system but one common for numerous economies, Wu summarized the ¡°Chinese characteristics¡± in five aspects ¨C the significance of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), the party-state¡¯s influence on the banking sector, the competence of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the sui generis style of Chinese corporate groups, and the ruling party¡¯s involvement in the economy. These aspects were not coinciding with initial expectations of those negotiated for China¡¯s accession, and rendered the WTO unfit for China¡¯s institutional involvement. He then presented three options to address China¡¯s challenges, namely, the WTO dispute settlement mechanism, negotiation, and the creation of an alternative supranational trade ¡°club¡± with new rules. Professor Wu suggested each of these proposals had its drawbacks, and the best way forward still awaits exploration.

The lecture was well received by Renmin faculty members and students. Professor Jin commented that China¡¯s current stage of development might be the root-cause of the challenges. Jin also inquired the ¡°third country¡± standard for calculating the proper price of Chinese goods in antidumping cases. Professor Zhang cited Chinese classics to suggest that conflicts are an inevitable path for deepening consensus. Professor Xiong raised questions based on the ¡°globalization paradox¡± theory and suggested that the incomplete contract theory may be helpful to analyze the current challenges. Professor HAN, a leading WTO expert of China, praised the contribution of Wu¡¯s article and suggested further discussion topics.

The participating students, both from Renmin Law School and from other universities in Beijing (e.g. Tsinghua Law School), asked questions on the future of WTO system and on the study of international trade law. Professor Wu answered these questions with encouragement and kindness. With a round of warm applause for Professor Wu, Professor Guo wrapped up the Seventh RUIVW event.

(News reported by Yujia WU)

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