Toward Responsible and Coherent Regulatory Frameworks
Edited by Clair Gammage and Tonia Novitz
Chapter 7: Old players, new rules: a critique of the China-Ethiopia and China-Tanzania bilateral investment treaties
The rapprochement between China and African States is garnering much academic attention, particularly in respect to China’s investment activity in Africa. The objective of this chapter is to scrutinize an aspect of this relationship in the context of international investment law (IIL) by critiquing the China-Ethiopia and China-Tanzania bilateral investment treaties (BITs). Underlying the study of IIL, there is an implicit neo-liberal assumption that signing international investment agreements (IIAs) will promote economic development. By signing these agreements, these States integrate themselves into an existing system where the obligations constrain their ability to regulate in the public interest. As an interstitial tool, sustainable development serves to preserve the space of host States to regulate in the public interest. In that regard, China as an emerging actor subtly adapts to the rules in IIL for its own benefit (eg, the China-Ethiopia BIT). In recent years, China has innovatively negotiated IIAs that explicitly recognize sustainable development (eg, the China-Tanzania BIT).
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