By: Weixia Gu
Established in 2018, the China International Commercial Court (CICC) represents a major step of China’s top-down effort in its capacity building in terms of its national dispute resolution infrastructure, judicial personnel, as well as the ambition to create a Belt and Road lex mercatoria and legal harmonization.
Through a close examination of the legal framework of the CICC, the paper argues that the establishment of the CICC has showcased a shift in the paradigm in the Beijing Consensus in the context of law and development via a more active top-down, institutional and hard-law approach. The article argues that the shift in paradigm does not mean that China is necessarily moving away from or abandoning the norm-based soft-law approach. Instead, it is likely that both Yin (soft power) and Yang (hard power) of China’s law and development will be a complementary attempt in its overriding “Rule of Law China” (fazhi zhongguo) vision. It is further argued that the establishment of the CICC will represent a reshaping and readjustment of the Beijing Consensus amidst the tension between Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative and Washington’s IndoPacific Strategy, signifying a more determined and proactive mindset in the ideological tug of war in the realm of legal architecture and the international rule of law discourse.