The operation of SOEs is also supported by a complex range of preferences, national standards, cyber theft, and use of government procurement and regulation to ensure that private and foreign traders’ and investors’ ability to compete is curtailed. The development of regulations and standards is another tool of state control used to benefit SOEs over private and foreign investors and traders.57,58As rule of law in China often means the fiat of government officials, domestic courts are usually unwilling to overturn administrative decisions or to sanction government and party officials who breach the law.59Central control is further reinforced through the role of guanxi (i.e., the system of social networks and influential relationships that facilitate business and other dealings) in the judicial system.60Compounding this is the prevalence of corruption and informality as alternative means of settling disputes.6156 Allen, Jamie, and Li Rui (Nana Li). Awakening Governance: The evolution of corporate governance in China. Hong Kong: Asian Corporate Governance Association (ACGA), 2018. .57 Chen, Jianfu. “The Transformation of Chinese Law: Mark II.” Hong Kong Law45, Part 3 (2015): 911:94.58 Morrow, Judith A., Sida Liu, and Benjamin van Rooij. “Lawyer Discipline in an Authoritarian Regime: Empirical Insights from Zhejiang Province, China.” Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics30, no. 2 (Spring 2017): 267-300.59 Cui, Wei, Jie Cheng, and Dominika Wiesner. “Judicial Review of Government Actions in China.” (May 31, 2018).60 He, Xin, and Kwai Hang Ng. “‘It Must Be Rock Strong!’: Guanxi’s Impact on Judicial Decision-Making in China.” The American Journal of Comparative Law 65, no. 4 (December 31, 2017): 841-871.61 Cui, Wei. “Does Judicial Independence Matter? A Study of the Determinants of Administrative Litigation in an Authoritarian Regime.” University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law 38, no. 3 (2017): 941-998.The importance of the WTO to resolving U.S.-China trade tensionsChina’s economic system places a number of acute stresses on the WTO. China undertook significant commitments as part of its WTO accession in 2001, yet developments in the Chinese economic system make it increasingly difficult to enforce its WTO commitments. In addition, China’s economic model presents new challenges not anticipated at the time of its accession. This comes at a time of skepticism of the capacity of the WTO as an institution—both in terms of the rules and the dispute settlement system—to deal with the magnitude of the China challenge. The last multilateral trade round, the Doha Development Agenda, was shelved after over ten years of negotiations. Attempts at concluding various plurilateral agreements in areas such as services and environmental goods have stalled, among other things.
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