China is one of the most active states in concluding bilateral investment treaties (BITs) globally. Its BITs can be categorized into three generations based on the homogeneity of the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions within each generation. The China–EU Comprehensive Agreement on Investment and the China–US BIT under negotiation are expected to inaugurate a fourth generation, although China’s stance on ISDS in both treaties remains indeterminate. This article elaborates on the distinctive characteristics of ISDS provisions by mapping three generations of Chinese BITs, presenting the challenges that these ISDS provisions have brought to light in investor-state adjudication as well as in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative, and expounding on China’s policy options in ISDS reform. The on-going intense debate on ISDS reform presents China with an opportunity to shift from its traditional role of a rule-taker to a rule-maker in redesigning the ISDS mechanism. However, China’s current policy and practice do not demonstrate an ambition for such a transformation. Looking forward, it may well be in China’s long-term interest to endorse a Multilateral Investment Court as vigorously advocated by the EU.

Belt and Road Initiative · China–EU CAI · China–US BIT · Chinese bilateral investment treaties · International investment law · Investor-state dispute settlement · Multilateral Investment Court
dx.doi.org/10.1007/s40802-020-00182-3, hdl.handle.net/1765/132500
Netherlands International Law Review

Li, Y, & Bian, C. (2020). China’s Stance on Investor‑State Dispute Settlement: Evolution, Challenges, and Reform Options. Netherlands International Law Review. doi:10.1007/s40802-020-00182-3