Wednesday, 29 July 2009

WIPO's new Arbitration and Mediation Centre in Singapore

The WIPO, which has close working relationship with the WTO on IPR issues, has announced the establishment of a new Arbitration and Mediation Centre (AMC) in Singapore, reportedly the first such centre outside Geneva.

I have previously blogged about the possibility of the WTO relocating to SG or HK. Now that the WIPO has made the move, will the WTO follow suit?

Friday, 24 July 2009

From Rule Takers, Shakers to Makers: How Japan, China and Korea Shaped New Norms in International Economic Law

On 1st and 2nd of August, the Asian Society of International Law will hold its second biennial conference in Tokyo. While I would not be physically there, my fellow co-authors Saadia M. Pekkanen and Dukgeun Ahn  will present out joint paper on "From Rule Takers, Shakers to Makers: How Japan, China and Korea Shaped New Norms in International Economic Law". For more information on the conference, please see here. Below are the first few lines of the paper:

    While the rise of Asia in the international economy has been widely noted, much less appreciated is the way in which that rise has interacted with the forces of international economic law (IEL). Perhaps the most dominant perception among both legal scholars and social scientists is still that formal law does not play much of a role in the East Asian region – that its institutions are weak, that it has a preference for non-legalistic methods and non-binding commitments which also extend to dispute settlement mechanisms, and that in contrast to highly legal systems as, for example in Europe, far more weight should be given to the competition of national economies and ethnic groups in growing markets than legal dimensions in the case of Asia even today.

     This very conceptualization that goes within and across Asian countries has also been extended to their behavior at the multilateral and international levels. Yet even those holding to the contrast between high levels of legalization in Europe and North America and low ones in the case of Asia in the early 2000s had also begun to note the increasing role of formal law in Asia. This shift towards legalism has been most prominent at the global multilateral level as a number of works have stressed the importance of law and legal processes by and for Asian countries in contexts such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) as well as through burgeoning Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs). In this paper we go further and take the first systematic steps towards a comparison of the activities of the dominant players in contemporary Asia, namely China, Japan, and Korea (CJK) with the goal of bringing them into mainstream debates and controversies in IEL.

      Using an interdisciplinary approach combining political economy approaches with legal scholarship, we aim to show how legalization has become a force to contend within Asia. By legalization we mean specifically that, in significant contrast to the past, Asian countries have begun to stress the dimensions of precision (unambiguous rules to require, authorize, or proscribe action), obligation (rules or commitments to bind action), and delegation (third parties to implement, interpret, and apply the rules for disputes or further rule-making) in a wide range of their economic relations. To be clear, we are not stressing that by doing so they are moving toward legal integration, where like the European and Andean cases, formal or informal moves help create a seamless rule of law affecting domestic actors and international tribunals. Rather, driven by their activities at the global, multilateral and now increasingly regional levels, the moves toward legalization should be seen as an evolutionary move toward the creation of the rule of law across borders. Thus as Asian states have begun to stress the dimensions of precision, obligation, and delegation in their economic relationships at present, the sum total of their moves may well go on to have significant implications for the creation of such rule of law systems in the future particularly in their foreign economic diplomacy.

     Put simply, then, our main contention in this paper is that Asian states are no longer merely passive rule-takers in a system of IEL still widely thought to be dominated by Western countries, principally the United States and European Communities. Rather, as their economic clout has risen at both the global and regional level, key Asia states such as CJK have become aggressive users of the dispute settlement system of the WTO with novel directions in their domestic institutional landscapes; and they have also moved well beyond the narrow confines of the WTO-centered system to shape even regional and cross-regional legal frameworks to their advantage. How and why did things come to this? What exactly are the legal consequences both for IEL and these countries' domestic legal systems? What does the sum total of these sequential changes portend for the rule of law in CJK and other Asian countries more broadly?

     The remainder of the paper is in three parts. The first part provides an analytical framework that stresses the rise and significance of commercial interests operating across borders, irrespective of whether the source is public or private in nature. Thus we are less concerned with whether a government or a business is responsible for economic flows across borders than with the fact that those flows are taking place. It also provides a brief statistical background, placing Asia's economic weight in global and regional context. Although we look at East Asia more broadly in the paper, we focus on the relative weight of dominant regional players, namely CJK which also go on to form the bulk of the analysis in this paper. The second part turns to the empirical evidence, focusing on substantial changes at both the international and domestic levels over the past twenty years that deserve close attention. At the international level, in breaking with their own tradition of being reluctant litigants, CJK along with other East Asian states have started to "shake" the existing power structure by actively using the existing legal rules to advance and defend their own interests in a policy shift to "aggressive legalism." This ongoing policy shift is one of the core elements for fortifying the "rule-based" WTO system, as well as strengthening the trend toward regional interaction on the basis of rules. But these same states have also moved well beyond the WTO-centered system in the 2000s more visibly, as they have actually started to "make" new norms by proposing new rules at the multilateral level and creating a web of legal agreements at the inter-regional and intra-regional level that aim to reflect their own interests. These instruments span trade, investment, and finance, and are a harbinger of the continued legalization of Asian economic relations. The third part concludes, focusing on the implications of the analytical and empirical evidence for the future of the rule of law in the multilateral and regional system more broadly.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

WSJ: U.S. Wins Trade Dispute With China Over CDs, DVDs

WSJ: U.S. Wins Trade Dispute With China Over CDs, DVDs  

Associated Press

GENEVA -- The U.S. has largely prevailed in a trade dispute with China over restrictions on the sale there of American CDs, DVDs, books and computer software, two officials familiar with the ruling have told The Associated Press.

The confidential verdict from the World Trade Organization victory comes as the administration of President Barack Obama is being pressed to be tough over trade rules with China, whom many Democrats in the U.S. Congress blame in part for America's soaring trade deficits and lost manufacturing jobs.

The ruling in the case, filed during the preceding Bush administration, was released to Beijing and Washington last month, but will only be made public on Aug. 12. It finds that Beijing is breaking commerce rules by forcing U.S.-made goods from magazines to video games to be sold through Chinese state-owned companies, the officials said.

But, as with most WTO rulings, the officials say the ruling stops short of a complete U.S. victory as the three-member panel delivered mixed findings on Chinese censorship rules that apply to American-made goods, but not to Chinese products. It also permits China to make U.S. films go through one of two designated distributors to be shown in Chinese cinemas, a requirement not required of Chinese movies.

The officials who had reviewed the ruling spoke on condition of anonymity because of confidentiality rules ahead of publication. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Chinese Commerce Ministry have declined to comment.

The ruling will also be of interest to a variety of American media producers from Hollywood to Silicon Valley, who argue that discriminatory Chinese rules are costing American media companies millions of dollars. The dispute includes a complaint about Chinese censorship of music recording downloads in China, such as those sold by Apple Inc.'s iTunes store.

The WTO can authorize retaliatory sanctions against countries unwilling to bring tariffs, subsidies and other trade practices in line with international agreements, but generally only after years of litigation. Washington and Beijing can appeal the verdict.

The decision was handed to the governments on June 23, the same day the United States and European Union hauled China to the WTO over allegations Beijing was favoring domestic industry by limiting exports of materials needed to produce steel, aluminum and other products.

Beijing retaliated by saying it would ask for a formal WTO investigation into an American ban on Chinese poultry, as months of relative calm between the two trading powers ended.

When the WTO launched the investigation in November 2007, it marked the fourth official U.S.-China dispute in little over a year as ex-President George W. Bush's administration stepped up pressure on Beijing.

The Geneva-based trade body backed the Bush administration, Canada and the 27-nation European Union by ruling that China was illegally blocking imports of foreign-made auto parts. Last year it also partly sided with Washington in a separate dispute over Chinese product piracy and counterfeiting, while a U.S.-Mexican complaint over Chinese government subsidies in manufacturing was settled out of court.

Washington's trade deficit with Beijing rose 4.4% to $17.5 billion in May, but is running 12.6% below last year. American manufacturers see the undervalued yuan as the major culprit in the trade deficit with the Chinese, which last year hit $266 billion, the highest recorded with one country.

Copyright © 2009 Associated Press

Monday, 13 July 2009

Yang Yi on China's Trade Remedy Investigations


2009年07月10日 22:58经济观察报 】 【打印0位网友发表评论

张斌 刘丹









杨益:全球金融危机对中国金融业本身影响不大。对中国产业的影响主要是通过外部市场需求的减少、萎缩传导进来。总体来说是外向度比较高的产业受冲击 大。按顺序来说,去年初的时候是纺织、轻工,到年中的时候,就是钢铁、石化产品。到去年三、四季度和今年年初的时候是电子信息产业、重要农产品[11.10 1.19%]和服务业等了。



杨益:我们专门研究过跨国并购和产业安全,在金融危机的背景下,我们内资企业的控制力在增强。因为,在这个过程中,很多的跨国公司财富正在缩水,中 国的公司,主要是上市公司,虽然也缩水,但是比例小一点。这样,一个产业中内资企业的控制力反而在上升,这是大家都没有注意到的。




表面上,各个国家包括二十国集团会议都表示要抵制贸易保护主义,很多国家也承诺不会出台贸易保护措施,但往往是会议刚刚结束不到几天,就纷纷出台了 贸易保护措施。世贸组织7月1日发布的报告显示,在过去的3个月内,24个国家和地区共出台了83项限制贸易的措施,是同期贸易自由化措施的两倍多。

作为世界第三大贸易体,中国是遭遇贸易摩擦的主要对象。去年全球有21个国家对中国发起了93起贸易纠纷,涉及到进出口金额是62亿美元今年1—6月份,已经有15个国家和地区对中国发起了 “两反两保”调查60起,案件数同比上升了11%,金额达到了82亿美元,这个已经超过了去年全年的涉案金额。







中国长期遭受美国和其他西方国家的反补贴调查,我们从1997年就制定了反补贴条例,今年6月1日公告立案的取向电工钢案是我对外发起的第一例反补 贴案。该案涉及两个国家,对美国是反倾销和反补贴合并调查,对俄罗斯是反倾销。另外,涉案金额也在增加,今年上半年发起的一起反倾销调查(对苯二甲酸), 涉案金额达36亿美元。





Friday, 10 July 2009

WSJ: China spy charges roil Australia

JULY 9, 2009

China Raises Stakes in Espionage Case


China said a detained Australian mining executive and three colleagues "stole Chinese state secrets for a foreign country," escalating Beijing's business dispute with a major supplier and straining the economic relationship between two nations that depend on each other for growth.

Authorities have held four Shanghai-based employees of mining giant Rio Tinto PLC since Sunday. China's government broke its silence on the case Thursday, with foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang saying prosecutors have evidence that the employees stole state secrets, "which hurt China's economic interests and economic security."

Mr. Qin didn't say what secrets are alleged to have been stolen. Reports in the Chinese press Thursday, which an official at the State Security Bureau in Shanghai said were accurate, said the allegations relate to the employees' actions in negotiations -- which have yet to be resolved -- between Rio Tinto and Chinese steelmakers on the price of iron ore.

Adding to tensions, Rio Tinto last month walked away from a $19.5 billion deal to expand an alliance with Aluminum Corp. of China, or Chinalco, in favor of a tie-up with fellow Anglo-Australian miner BHP Billiton Ltd.

The Australian government had played down suspicions that the case is related to Rio Tinto's business dealings in China.

Three of the detained employees Chinese citizens; one of them, Stern Hu, general manager in China of Rio's iron-ore division, is an Australian of Chinese descent. The broad reach of China's state-secrets law, which has in the past been used to jail journalists and scholars, means it could cover the commercial information of state firms.

The detentions have stunned the Australian mining industry and sparked a fierce reaction from opposition politicians. In Australia, anti-China sentiment has been simmering for months as some worry about a surge in Chinese firms buying into Australian resource companies.

China has had mixed diplomatic success as it scours the world to secure energy and materials to feed its fast-growing economy. It has spent the past several years trying to build up better relations with resource-rich nations in Africa and Latin America. It has offered aid and investment to developing countries poorer than itself, and a sympathetic ear to governments not well received in the West. But China's business dealings haven't always been welcome in other countries, and the Communist Party has often not been adept at swaying foreign public opinion.

"China is now facing a great challenge. Its economy is expanding, its ties with other countries are getting closer, but frictions are also increasing," said Jia Qingguo, professor of international studies at Peking University. "It is very difficult for China to convince other countries of its good intentions."

The economic interests of China and Australia are now locked together, with Australia's iron-ore miners and China's steel industry depending heavily on each other. Australia is the world's biggest exporter of iron ore, expected to account for 40% of global seaborne iron ore produced in 2009, while China is by far the biggest importer, set to account for 62% of imports of seaborne ore this year, according to Goldman Sachs JBWere.

China has built up the world's largest steel industry to supply its voracious demand for the metal as it expands its cities and adds roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

Scholars in both China and Australia say that economic interdependence will likely push the two governments to find a way to work through the current problems. "Even if the charges are found to be unfounded, it won't make a really serious dent in the nature of the relationship which at this stage is economic and strategic," said Michael McKinley, an expert in global politics at Australian National University.

Yet increasing tensions with China aren't what most people expected from Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd when he and the center-left Labor Party won office in November 2007. Mr. Rudd, a former diplomat in China and fluent Chinese speaker, was expected to forge closer ties with China and de-emphasize relations with traditional allies like the U.S.

Mr. Rudd has indeed sought to engage with China, meeting with President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao on his first overseas trip in April 2008. But he has also been careful to stress that China's rise as an economic power poses challenges for Australia. In May, his government unveiled plans to beef up defense spending over the next two decades, in part to counter China's increasing military presence in Asia.

Mr. Rudd, who is in Italy for a forum on the sidelines of the Group of Eight meeting in L'Aquila, hasn't directly intervened in the detention of the Rio employees. He told reporters he has no plans to call his Chinese counterparts to discuss the situation and is leaving it to the foreign ministry.

On Friday, Australian consular officials will be able to visit Stern Hu, the Australian citizen detained in the investigation.

Mr. Rudd's government has been wrestling with how best to handle a surge of investment by Chinese state-owned enterprises in Australia's mining sector. So far this year, more than $6 billion of such investments have been announced, more than double all of last year. The detention of Mr. Hu and the other Rio employees, who are Chinese citizens, could complicate the situation for Chinese firms now going to Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board, analysts say.

"It is bad for anybody who is Chinese and in front of FIRB at the moment," one person with experience of Chinese investment in Australia said. "Until the Australian government understands what China is trying to do with the Australian citizen who has been arrested I can't imagine they will be clearing anything," this person said.

One company in the application pipeline is Lynas Corp., a rare-earth miner that is seeking approval for a 500 million Australian dollar (US$386.5 million) investment from China Nonferrous Metal Mining (Group) Co.. The FIRB declined to comment.

The strains with a key trading partner aren't unprecedented in Australia. In the 1970s, Japanese companies were investing in Australian resources for the same reasons China is now. At the time, Japan's involvement raised the ire of some Australians -- but has since been broadly recognized as providing much-needed funds for development.

"The current situation is largely the same," said Hou Minyue of the Australian Studies Center at East China Normal University. "There is a process the two countries need to go through to understand each other."

-Aaron Back contributed to this article.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Chen Deming on Protectionism in La Repubblica

2009-07-06 14:43  文章来源:商务部新闻办公室
文章类型:原创  内容分类:新闻



中国商务部部长 陈德铭


  中国是经济全球化重要参与者和受益者。反对保护主义,中国绝不是空喊口号、徒做姿态。目前,中国关税总水平为9.8%,其中农产品平均税率为 15.2%,仅为世界平均水平的1/4。2002—2008年,中国累计从世界进口了4.8万亿美元商品,年均增速达到25.1%,进口增量占世界同期的近9%。中国已成为世界第三大进口国。截至2008年底,中国实际利用外资超过8500亿美元,现存运营外资企业约28万家,绝大多数实现盈利。在汽车、手机、化妆品、家电等重要消费品领域,外国品牌和进口产品分别占据了中国市场70%、75%、75%和50%的份额。


  近期,一些西方媒体报道中国将在经济刺激计划中实行所谓“购买中国货”的政策,认为中国转向保护主义。这是一种误解。前不久,中国政府有关部门为了规范政府采购行为,依据中国的《政府采购法》,重申了财政性资金的政府采购应优先购买本国产品的原有规定,针对的主要是部分地方在招标采购中歧视本国产品的做法。规定所指的本国产品也包括依法在中国设立的外商投资企业产品。事实上,中国经济刺激计划中的大量投资是社会投资,许多外国企业正在从中国实行的积极扩大内需的宏观经济政策中受益。例如,为了扩大农村消费,中国政府以财政补贴的方式鼓励农民购买家电,不少外资品牌的产品就在这项被称为 “家电下乡”的政策中中标入围,享受了中国政府的支持政策。中国目前尚非WTO《政府采购协议》成员,上述相关规定没有违背国际义务。中国政府也愿意进一步对外开放政府采购市场,希望有关成员能够本着灵活务实的态度,降低要价,为中国早日加入《政府采购协议》创造条件。


Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Green Dam-equipped PC shipped by Sony

Sony has started shipping PC pre-installed with Green Dam but included a disclaimer on the software with the machine.

Green Dam postponed

【发布时间:2009年06月30日】 【来源:新华社】 【字体:大 中 小】




   为了保护未成年人免受网络淫秽色情等有害信息的影响,工业和信息化部依据《全国人民代表大会常务委员会关于维护互联网安全的决定》、《中华人民共和国未成年人保护法》等法律规定,顺应社会各界要求,在有关部门的支持下,于5月19日发文,要求在我国境内生产销售和进口销售的计算机预装“绿坝-花季护航 ”绿色上网过滤软件。这一工作遵照《中华人民共和国政府采购法》规定程序,以国家出资购买的方式向社会提供免费使用,目的就是为了从源头上防范有害信息对未成年人的影响。


















Green Dam - more

China's Green Dam filter vulnerable - researchers

Fri Jun 12, 2009 8:59am BST

BEIJING (Reuters) - A software filter mandated by the Chinese government leaves users vulnerable to malicious sites that might steal personal data or install code on the personal computer, researchers at the University of Michigan found.

China has mandated that the "Green Dam" software be preinstalled on all new computers made or shipped by July 1, saying that the move will protect children against pornography.

Many schools have already installed it. U.S. industry associations representing computer manufacturers have asked China to reconsider the requirement, based on concerns ranging from cyber-security and performance of the software to Internet freedoms.

Web sites can exploit vulnerabilities in the software to take control of the computer, according to a report by Scott Wolchok, Randy Yao and J Alex Halderman of the University of Michigan.

"This could allow malicious sites to steal private data, send spam, or enlist the computer in a botnet," said the report (

"In addition, we found vulnerabilities in the way Green Dam processes blacklist updates that could allow the software makers or others to install malicious code during the update process."

Green Dam filters words and images, as well as web addresses.

Once installed, the program automatically closes Microsoft browser Internet Explorer if the user tries to access a blacklisted site, including those belonging to banned spiritual group Falun Gong, according to a user who is testing it.

Meanwhile, Chinese education departments are pressing ahead with installing the program, state media said.

About 4 million computers at all the 1,500-some primary and secondary schools in Shanghai will be equipped with Green Dam by the end of this month in order to block access to pornographic and vulgar software, the Xinhua news agency said on Friday.

About 48 percent of teenagers have visited porn Websites, Xinhua said, citing a survey released by the Chinese Youth Research Centre last month.

(Reporting by Lucy Hornby; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

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  “7月1号以後你要买电脑的话就会有这麽一个软件,” 她问完旁边店铺的销售人员後说到,“但别担心……我们可以很轻松地把它给卸下来。”


  “绿坝计划严重破坏了市场规则。政府不应该强制推行某种品牌的软件,” 人民大学公共政策领域的教授毛寿龙在中关村路边说到,“但实际上的影响很有限。人们可以自愿选择,而且市场细分到如此程度,你也没法轻松控制住它。大公司 会遵守命令,但谁能指挥得动数千家小公司呢?”








  “年中通常是淡季,经济危机一来就更糟糕了,” 他说,“我们会告诉顾客软件的事,但我觉得没什麽影响。你可以要麽卸了它要麽扔了它,那又能怎麽样呢?”