China's "Law and Development" Moment?: Reflecting on Reflections of Law in China’s Globalism

Colloquium | November 9 | 4-6 p.m. | 180 Doe Library

 Matthew S. Erie, Oriental Studies, University of Oxford

 Stanley Lubman, Boalt School of Law, UC Berkeley

 Center for Chinese Studies (CCS), Berkeley Law

What is the role of law in China’s new globalism? By the year 2020, China will be one of the largest capital exporters in the world, marking the first time in modern history a nondemocratic state will have such a widespread impact on the developing world. While much of Chinese investment flows to post-industrial Europe and North America, a significant amount reaches Sub-Saharan Africa, West Asia, and South Asia. Both the current chilling in U.S.-China relations and the Chinese Government’s “Belt and Road Initiative” suggest that developing states will continue to be destinations for Chinese capital into the future. As a legal question, investors in high-risk environments conventionally a) reform the legal systems of host states to increase predictability and transparency and/or b) rely on bilateral investment treaties to shield themselves from liability under domestic law. China is doing a) only to a limited extent and practices a modified version of b). China’s approach thus challenges received knowledge of “law and development,” a paradigm for economic development in poor states, promoted by the U.S. and its allies since the 1950s. At the same time, jettisoning law altogether would be to miss vital aspects of emerging relationships between China and host states, through which local market players are responding to the new normal of Chinese capital outflows, sometimes with recourse to law. This talk will reflect on some of the brainstorming about the role of legal institutions for risk mitigation and rights protection, both by Chinese and local actors, what these projects (may) add up to, and their relationship to existing normative orders in order to draw the contours of a non-liberal legal imaginary.