China's Legal System and the WTO: Prospects for Compliance

25 Pages Posted: 30 Jan 2003

See all articles by Donald C. Clarke

Donald C. Clarke

George Washington University - Law School


The impact of WTO membership both on China and its trading partners, both for good and for ill, has been greatly overstated. WTO treaty obligations and Dispute Settlement Body rulings will not become part of Chinese domestic unless specifically incorporated by Chinese legislation. Moreover, the WTO does not require a perfect legal system of its members; instead, it requires a degree of transparency and fairness in certain limited areas. Although some of China's WTO commitments will be difficult for it to fulfill, even non-fulfillment will not result in the predicted flood of WTO dispute settlement proceedings, since such proceedings can be brought only by member governments with their own particular set of priorities, diplomatic considerations, and limited resources.

Keywords: China, Chinese law, World Trade Organization, WTO, international law, trade law, treaty law, Asian law, comparative law

JEL Classification: F02, F13, K29, K33, K40, P33, P37

Suggested Citation

Clarke, Donald C., China's Legal System and the WTO: Prospects for Compliance. Global Studies Law Review, Vol. 2, No. 97, 2003, Available at SSRN: or

Donald C. Clarke (Contact Author)

George Washington University - Law School ( email )

2000 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052
United States


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