China sees improvement in both quality, efficiency of foreign-related legal services

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Foreign Participants Attend The Opening Ceremony
Foreign Participants Attend The Opening Ceremony

By Zhang Cong, 

In recent years, China has been working to improve its foreign-related legal services, especially those in areas such as work of lawyers, arbitration, notarization, and commercial conciliation. 

Efforts have been made to enhance the development of foreign-related legal service institutions, promote the establishment of international commercial arbitration centers, and leverage the role of the Belt and Road International Lawyers Association and other institutions, to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises and citizens in their overseas activities, while effectively serve and support the country’s high-level opening-up.

As of January this year, Chinese law firms have established 180 branch offices and several representative offices in 35 countries and regions. The number of foreign-related lawyers nationwide exceeded 12,000. The parties involved in foreign-related cases handled by arbitration institutions across the country came from over 100 countries and regions. The quality and efficiency of foreign-related legal services in China have been continuously improved.

In October 2020, the Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT), built by Chinese companies, officially commenced operations in Lahore, an eastern city of Pakistan. This marked Pakistan’s entry into the “era of metro.”

After the opening of the OLMT, a joint operation body consisting of Chinese and Pakistani companies was formed to provide an eight-year operation and maintenance service. 

In order to better support Chinese companies in their overseas business, a law firm in south China’s Guangdong province, which is a member unit of the Belt and Road International Lawyers Association, signed a cooperation agreement with relevant Chinese enterprises to provide legal services for compliant operations.

After the agreement was signed, the law firm promptly identified the main legal and compliance issues that Chinese enterprises and members of the joint operation body might face, conducted a comprehensive assessment of the legal and compliance risks during project operations, and proposed solutions.

Besides, it helped ensure that the OLMT operates in strict accordance with relevant laws and regulations, as well as regulatory requirements of both China and Pakistan, and the demands of the Pakistani owner, too. 

This has guaranteed the smooth operation of the project, and created both social and economic benefits for the project, showcasing the speed and quality of Chinese projects.

As an international and professional lawyer organization initiated by China, the Belt and Road International Lawyers Association has been actively promoting institutionalization since its establishment in December 2019. 

Currently, the association has more than 2,600 members from 54 countries and regions, including over 430 group members. It has nine professional committees, 34 national or regional working groups, and five representative offices. 

The association has played an active role in deepening exchanges and cooperation among legal professionals from Belt and Road partner countries, as well as strengthening legal services.

Kang Yu, secretary-general of the Belt and Road International Lawyers Association, said in recent years, members of the association have provided professional, accurate, and high-level legal services to key Belt and Road projects such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the China-Thailand railway, and the power transmission service for Laos.

Arbitration is an important mechanism for resolving economic disputes, which is recognized internationally. The majority of international commercial contracts choose arbitration as the preferred method for resolving disputes. Arbitration plays an irreplaceable role in promoting high-quality economic development and facilitating international economic and trade cooperation.

In a foreign-related case handled by the Shenzhen Court of International Arbitration, a party involved was a company from Dongguan, Guangdong province, while the other was one from Canada. Each party selected an arbitrator from their respective jurisdictions, and a Hong Kong expert was appointed as the presiding arbitrator. With the participation of arbitrators from three different legal systems, the case was successfully resolved, earning praise from both parties.

“Since 2012, the Shenzhen Court of International Arbitration has been at the forefront among global arbitration institutions in exploring a statutory body governance mechanism. It has established a corporate governance structure centered on an international and specialized council, thereby enhancing the credibility of international arbitration in China,” said Liu Xiaochun, president of the Court of International Arbitration.

Currently, the court has 1,539 arbitrators from 114 countries and regions, and the parties involved in the arbitration and conciliation cases cover 140 countries and regions. This has contributed to fostering a world-class business environment that is market-oriented, law-based, and internationalized.

It is reported that, China is building pilot international commercial arbitration centers in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong province, and Hainan province. 

The goal is to develop Beijing into an international commercial arbitration center that serves as a hub for international scientific and technological innovation and international exchanges. Shanghai aims to become a global Asia-Pacific arbitration center.

Guangzhou and Shenzhen in Guangdong province will be developed into international commercial law and dispute resolution service centers that collaborate with Hong Kong and Macao, serving the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the world at large. 

Hainan province will be transformed into an international commercial arbitration center that serves the Hainan Free Trade Port and solves commercial disputes around the Pacific and the Indian Ocean.

“We need to cultivate a group of world-class arbitration institutions and establish internationally renowned arbitration teams. We strive to make China a new global destination for international commercial arbitration,” said Yang Xiangbin, head of the Bureau of Public Legal Services Administration of the China’s Ministry of Justice.

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