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Indo-Pacific Legal Infrastructure: A China Perspective

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 December 2019

Matthew S. Erie*
University of Oxford.


The Indo-Pacific, given its economic and geopolitical significance as exemplified by the growing multilateralism in the region, is an incubatory space for innovative legal infrastructure. Against the backdrop of growing tension between the United States and China in the region, I emphasize China's expanding footprint through the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) and its capacity to shape institutions, practices, and norms of international economic law. I begin by providing context and then suggest six ways in which the BRI may offer a novel approach to international economic law, with particular salience for the Indo-Pacific region.

Asia's Response to the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy
Copyright © 2019 by The American Society of International Law

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1 People's Republic of China Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press Release, List of Deliverables of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (Apr. 27, 2019), at

2 Overseas Private Investment Corporation, FAQs on Build Act Implementation, at

3 John Hurley, Scott Morris & Gailyn Portelance, Examining the Implications of the Belt and Road Initiative from a Policy Perspective, at 29–32 (CGD Policy Paper 121, Mar. 2018).

4 Sungsup Ra & Zhigang Li, Closing the Financing Gap in Asian Infrastructure, at 5 (ADB South Asia Working Paper Series No. 57, June 2018).

5 See infra, points eight through ten below.

6 Pasha L. Hsieh, Against Populist Isolationism: New Asian Regionalism and Global South Powers in International Economic Law, 51 Cornell Int'l L.J. 683, 685 (2018).

7 Memorandum of Understanding on Legal and Judicial Cooperation, signed in Beijing, China on August 21, 2017; Memorandum of Guidance on the Recognition and Enforcement of Money Judgments in Commercial Cases, signed in Singapore on August 31, 2018.

8 Weixia Gu, Piercing the Veil of Arbitration Reform in China: Promises, Pitfalls, Patterns, Prognoses, and Prospects, 65 Am. J. Comp. L. 799 (2018).

9 Matthew S. Erie, The China International Commercial Court: Prospects for Dispute Resolution for the “Belt and Road Initiative, 22 ASIL Insights. (Aug. 31, 2018), at

10 Matthew S. Erie, The New Legal Hubs: The Emergent Landscape of International Commercial Dispute Resolution, 59 Va. J. Int'l L. (forthcoming 2020), available at