The Emergence of Global Regulatory Coherence: A Thorny Embrace For China?

57 Pages Posted: 26 Jan 2019 Last revised: 23 Sep 2020

See all articles by Han-Wei Liu

Han-Wei Liu

Singapore Management University - Yong Pung How School of Law; Monash University

Ching-Fu Lin

National Tsing Hua University

Date Written: January 15, 2019


The last two decades have witnessed various governance initiatives across institutions, domestic and international, in response to mushrooming regulatory trade barriers. Among the efforts to balance regulatory autonomy and international cooperation, “regulatory coherence” or “good regulatory practices” seems a promising solution that centers upon bottom-up domestic regulatory rationalization. While existing literature has documented how recent mega-regional trade blocs seek to harness regulatory barriers through mechanisms of international cooperation, it has arguably overlooked certain crucial issues. In particular, how has regulatory coherence emerged as a new global norm vis-à-vis the default in-ternational economic and legal order? What are the limits to the global normative diffusion of regulatory coherence when considering the diverse contexts and agendas of emerging economies, most notably China? This article aims to contribute the existing scholarship by making two major claims. First, built upon a historical approach, this paper traces the trajectory of the development of regulatory coherence. With the United States being the primary driving force, the concept of regulatory coherence mirrors the key elements of Administrative Procedure Act and has diffused across various jurisdictions through multiple venues, like the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Yet, despite its penetration, the entrenchment of regulatory coherence as a new global norm is conditioned upon complex political economy issues, particularly the role of China. By exploring the evolution of legal and political underpinnings for the past decades, this article contends that China has taken what we describe an “experimental approach” by prudently addressing regulatory coherence at both domestic and international levels, largely due to the democratic implications of regulatory reforms. Such an approach may in the end define the boundary of regulatory coherence as an emerging global norm.

Keywords: Regulatory Coherence, Administrative Procedure Act, CPTPP, China

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Liu, Han-Wei and Lin, Ching-Fu, The Emergence of Global Regulatory Coherence: A Thorny Embrace For China? (January 15, 2019). University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law, Vol. 40, No. 1, 2018, Available at SSRN:

Han-Wei Liu (Contact Author)

Singapore Management University - Yong Pung How School of Law ( email )

55 Armenian Street
Singapore, 179943

Monash University ( email )

900 Dandenong Road
Caulfield, Victoria 3145


Ching-Fu Lin

National Tsing Hua University ( email )



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