This chapter examines China’s responses to its environmental challenges and the implications for performance of international trade standards associated with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). As the chapters in this volume suggest, coordinating international trade and human rights performance remains difficult. The relationship between trade policy and the human right to a clean environment is an important illustration of the challenges and possibilities of achieving coordinated performance. This chapter finds that despite hopeful recent developments, China’s performance on environmental protection remains conflicted due to inconsistent policy direction and institutional oversight. Its environmental challenges and the regulatory system developed to manage them have also affected its trade policy performance, which faces continued challenges under GATT/WTO dispute-settlement processes. The importance of strengthening China’s environmental protection efforts and coordinating these with trade policy performance invites consideration of alternative approaches to confronting China’s environmental challenges. The potential for corporate social responsibility measures to improve the effectiveness of its environmental protection regime suggests hopeful possibilities for strengthening performance of international trade standards.
Pitman B. Potter
Questions about human rights in China extend beyond China’s boundaries. Over the past several decades, China’s spectacular economic growth has been accompanied by increased participation in international trade and investment relationships coupled with increased political and policy pressure advancing China’s human rights positions. Despite international legal standards to the contrary, China has promoted a human rights discourse in its international trade and investment relationships that elevates political control, social stability and economic accumulation over political and civil rights. Examining PRC human rights doctrine and exploring case studies of regional and bilateral relations, this chapter will examine how China’s trade and investment relationships reflect and promote its evolving orthodoxy on human rights.
Pitman B. Potter
Discussion of dissent and protest in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) unavoidably involves discussion of the ways in which the PRC’s socialist legal system governs political expression. Since the re-establishment of China’s socialist legal system in 1978, law has come to serve both as an instrument for rule and as a foundation for regime legitimacy. The 4th Plenum of the 18th CCP Central Committee (2014) was labeled the “rule of law plenum,” but stands as just the most recent example of the governing regime using law’s symbolic capital to support its legitimacy while also protecting the privileges and authority of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Yet the exercise of public law as both a mechanism for control and a foundation for regime legitimacy carries with it an inherent conflict between enforcing popular compliance and remaining true to institutional ideals of restraint on state action embodied in conventional rule of law discourse. Confronted by an emerging legal culture of rights in society, the regime’s use of law to control political expression offers a case study on legitimacy and legal culture in contemporary China.