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China and the International Legal System: Challenges of Participation*

  • Pitman B. Potter

During the past decade, the Chinese government has pursued greater engagement with a range of international legal regimes. China's expanded participation in international regimes for trade and human rights, for example, can provide deeper understanding of the factors influencing China's international behaviour. Building upon scholarly perspectives about institutional compliance with treaty texts and the influence of local conditions on China's policies and practice, this article examines China's participation in international legal regimes for trade and human rights in light of dynamics of normative engagement and the paradigm of selective adaptation. Normative tensions help explain China's policies and practices on compliance with the WTO trade regime, while the imperative of normative engagement helps explain much about China's international human rights diplomacy.

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* The author is pleased to thank Stanley Lubman for helpful comments and suggestions on an earlier draft of this article. The research on which this paper is based was supported by a Major Collaborative Research Initiatives (MCRI) research grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, for which the author is deeply grateful.

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The China Quarterly
  • ISSN: 0305-7410
  • EISSN: 1468-2648
  • URL: /core/journals/china-quarterly
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