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Explaining the limits of the WTO in shaping the rule of law in China.

Du, M. and Kong, Q.J. (2020) 'Explaining the limits of the WTO in shaping the rule of law in China.', Journal of international economic law., 23 (4). pp. 885-905.


When China acceded to the World Trade Organization in 2001, pundits were enthusiastic about the prospect that China’s World Trade Organization membership would boost international trade, encourage China’s restructuring toward a market economy, discipline the domestic legal system, and strengthen the rule of law in China. More recently, however, serious concerns have been raised regarding China’s record on the rule of law. The first National Security Strategy report issued by the Trump Administration in December 2017 claimed that China’s increased participation in the liberal international economic system had not effectuated China’s deeper engagement with, or respect for, the rule of law. The purpose of this article is to take a critical look at the two contrasting narratives on the impact of the World Trade Organization on China’s rule of law construction over the past two decades. It concludes that, although the World Trade Organization has played a positive role in advancing the rule of law in China, such a role has long been exaggerated. Accordingly, we provide an account of why the World Trade Organization has failed to play a catalyst role in instituting the rule of law in China widely expected in the western world.

Item Type:Article
Full text:Publisher-imposed embargo until 13 November 2022.
(AM) Accepted Manuscript
File format - PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Journal of international economic law following peer review. The version of record Ming Du, Qingjiang Kong, Explaining the Limits of the WTO in Shaping the Rule of Law in China, Journal of International Economic Law, Volume 23, Issue 4, December 2020, Pages 885–905 which is available online at:
Date accepted:21 August 2020
Date deposited:09 September 2020
Date of first online publication:13 November 2020
Date first made open access:13 November 2022

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