Sense and Sensibilities of China and WTO Dispute Settlement

51 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2010 Last revised: 15 Jul 2010

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 21, 2010


This paper aims at making a preliminary assessment of China in the WTO dispute settlement system from an international socialization perspective. When China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in November 2001, it was not clear how China would behave in WTO dispute settlement. At first, China proved to be a conciliatory defendant and reluctant complainant. Recently however, China’s profile in dispute settlement has shifted to a more proactive one, leading some observers to label its behavior "aggressive."

I argue that China’s behavior should be viewed in a different light. From totally rejecting international third party adjudication in the past, China - by permitting WTO panels to determine its fate in trade disputes - has started to exhibit new willingness to accept binding international adjudication. In this context, China is demonstrating respect for international rules as well as its faith in western legal norms and institutions. Through more intense participation in WTO dispute settlement, China is also becoming increasingly vested in the maintenance of WTO norms and rules, and consequently, the WTO dispute settlement system is playing an important role in socializing China.

Keywords: WTO, Dispute Settlement System, International socialization, China

JEL Classification: F02, F13, F14

Suggested Citation

Harpaz, Marcia Don, Sense and Sensibilities of China and WTO Dispute Settlement (June 21, 2010). Society of International Economic Law (SIEL), Second Biennial Global Conference, University of Barcelona, July 8-10, 2010, Available at SSRN: or

Marcia Don Harpaz (Contact Author)

Hebrew University of Jerusalem ( email )

Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, IL Jerusalem 91905

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