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date: 21 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter adds a Chinese perspective to the comparative study of how national courts treat international law. The chapter finds that the application of international law in Chinese courts is influenced by several major factors, including China’s ambivalence toward international law, the role that the judiciary plays in China’s national governance, and the professional competence of Chinese judges. In particular, the failure of China’s Constitution to specify the status of international law makes secondary laws less likely to embrace international law: many secondary laws do not mention international law at all; only a modest number of secondary laws automatically incorporate international law. This also means that Chinese judges are discouraged from invoking international law in adjudicating disputes. However, in line with and in support of China’s economic opening policy since the late 1970s, Chinese judges regularly apply those treaties that deal with commercial relations between private actors. A major development is that, as China rises as a great power, Chinese courts have begun to prudently become more involved in foreign relations by applying international law.

Keywords: China, Chinese courts, Chinese judges, economic development, foreign relations, incorporation of international law

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