Because of China’s enormous and fast-growing economy and its increasing role in shaping global governance, the evolving rule of law system in the People’s Republic poses some of the most critical challenges and opportunities for peace and prosperity in our era. This article examines a feature of the private law system which has developed over the past three decades alongside—arguably instead of—a reliable public order for resolution of international commercial disputes. It does so by focusing on the decisions issued by China’s pre-eminent arbitral association—the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC) in Beijing. This article examines the role of CIETAC in China’s dispute resolution system, discussing its practices, its procedures and some of the problems that have arisen in regards to settling disputes with foreign parties. In particular, it undertakes a close examination of CIETAC decisions interpreting the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods which has been in effect in China since January 1, 1988 and provides the default scheme that regulates all eligible international sales of goods transactions among parties. A leading authority on law in China has argued that CIETAC’s practices need substantial reform if they are to adhere to the standards of other international arbitral tribunals. Based on the information currently available, however, we tentatively conclude that concerns such as those about pro-Chinese bias or corruption in this system are either not in evidence or are being addressed. We believe that the glass is half full and generally becoming fuller—at least for the peaceful and just resolution of international commercial disputes.
Mark R. Shulman & Lachmi Singh, China’s Implementation of the UN Sales Convention Through Arbitral Tribunals, 48 Colum. J. Transnat'l L. 242 (2010).