Belt and Road: Will China be a Rule-Taker, Rule-Shaker, Rule-Breaker, or Rule-Maker?

On 13 of April 2018 Mimi Zou, Fellow in Chinese Commercial Law at University of Oxford held a masterclass at the Law Faculty of the HSE  on the topic “Sustainability and Corporate Governance on the Belt and Road: Will China be a Rule-Taker, Rule-Shaker, Rule-Breaker, or Rule-Maker?”. The lecture was attended by Yuri Kofner, head, Eurasian sector, CCEIS, HSE

The Belt and Road Initiative (“BRI”) has become the centrepiece of China’s development strategy. A key aim of the BRI is to promote economic connectivity among countries in Eurasia, with an emphasis on infrastructure and transportation projects. Proposed by President Xi Jinping in Kazahstan in 2013, the BRI essentially seeks to revive ancient land-trade routes in the framework of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Involving 68 countries (including Russia) that make up around two-thirds of the world’s population and 40% of global GDP, the BRI is arguably the most ambitious global economic and geo-political project of our time. 

The BRI will expand the scale, magnitude, and reach of Chinese outbound foreign investments in the coming years. My talk raises the question of whether China and its public and private actors on the Belt and Road are likely to be rule-takers, rule-shakers, rule-breakers, or rule-makers in terms of corporate governance, sustainability and environmental protection, labour standards and social issues as well as how disputes arising from these issues will be resolved.

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