Is China’s Belt and Road Initiative Moving towards a Silk Road Union?: A Legal and Policy Consideration


  • Ran Guo Shanghai Maritime University School of Law, Shanghai Maritime University, 1550 Haigang Ave., Pudong District, Shanghai, P. R. China 201306. Author


Silk Road Union, Belt and Road Initiative, Cooperation Mechanism, Institutionalization, Dispute Settlement Mechanism


In order to facilitate its Belt and Road Initiative, China has issued dozens of policy documents and detailed guidelines, improved its legal and supervisory systems, and taken full advantage of all existing cooperation mechanisms at the bilateral, regional, sub-regional and multilateral levels. The current cooperation mechanism is characterized by non-systemicity, which makes it dependent upon other existing regional cooperation mechanisms. In fact, it has no uniform institutional structure, nor any dispute settlement mechanism. Although this non-systematic approach is based in China’s successful experience in opening up to outside influence and in the flexibility that enabled its rise to global prominence, this very flexibility also poses challenges to the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative by leaving it open to conflict with existing regional cooperation mechanisms. Therefore, to ensure the success of the Belt and Road Initiative, China should undertake a systematic plan for implementation by establishing a comprehensive legal framework; streamlining paths to economic cooperation; and institutionalizing the cooperation mechanism with a formal dispute settlement mechanism at its core.







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