A Legalization Theory Based Response to Timothy Webster’s 'Paper Compliance' of China in WTO Dispute Settlement

Asian Journal of WTO & International Health Law and Policy, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp. 541-590

50 Pages Posted: 6 Oct 2015

See all articles by Guang Ma

Guang Ma

Zhejiang University - Guanghua Law School

Li Jiang

Renmin University of China

Date Written: September 29, 2015

Abstract

According to Legalization theory, specific legalization can be deconstructed as three sine qua non: precision, obligation and delegation. From the vantage point of legalization, WTO Dispute Settlement Mechanism (DSM) is more legalized than its predecessor under General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT). Timothy Webster, an American professor, attempts to apply “paper compliance” theory (or concept) to generalize China’s compliance with WTO decisions. Basing on legalization theory, the paper tries to evidence the untenability of “paper compliance”. The panorama of Chinese compliance is so complex that any single theory seems to be unable to capture the whole story. Besides, the paper holds that compliance assessment should target at the behaviors of compliance rather than the subjects themselves. Theoretically, to maintain compulsion, legitimacy and efficacy of WTO, compliance assessment shall not deviate from WTO legalization framework. Empirically, China has a relatively good, if not perfect, record of compliance with WTO decisions on the whole. The paper demonstrates that “paper compliance” is wrongly constructed theoretically and poorly grounded. In conclusion, “paper compliance” is illogical and untenable.

Keywords: WTO DSM, legalization, precision, obligation, delegation, compliance theory, paper compliance, compliance assessment

Suggested Citation

Ma, Guang and Jiang, Li, A Legalization Theory Based Response to Timothy Webster’s 'Paper Compliance' of China in WTO Dispute Settlement (September 29, 2015). Asian Journal of WTO & International Health Law and Policy, Vol. 10, No. 2, pp. 541-590. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2669442

Guang Ma (Contact Author)

Zhejiang University - Guanghua Law School ( email )

Zhejiang University Zhijiang Campus
51 Zhijiang Road
Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310008
China

Li Jiang

Renmin University of China ( email )

Room B906
Xianjin Building
Beijing, Beijing 100872
China

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