Hong Kong's Role in the BRI Dispute Resolution : Limits of Law and Power of Politics

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-249
Journal / PublicationChinese Journal of Comparative Law
Issue number1
Online published9 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


The Hong Kong government has aimed to make Hong Kong an international dispute resolution hub for decades. After China's launch of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Hong Kong has striven to make itself such a hub under the BRI. This article chooses arbitration as an example to examine Hong Kong's role in the dispute resolution under the BRI from three perspectives, that is, its legal infrastructure, central and local governmental policy support, and challenges faced by Hong Kong. Detailed review reveals that Hong Kong's legal infrastructure is well suited to resolve any disputes arising under the BRI and that there is also strong policy support from both the Chinese central government and the Hong Kong government. After examining challenges from Mainland Chinese arbitration institutions and self-contradiction within national policy documents, international and foreign arbitration institutions, and Hong Kong's political instability and conflicts with the Mainland, the article suggests that the primary reason why Hong Kong has not been successful in getting its share of dispute resolution business under the BRI is its political instability and bad relationship with Mainland China. It argues that Hong Kong's political skills in convincing both the Chinese central government and State-owned enterprises to choose Hong Kong as the forum for resolving disputes under the BRI are more important and will determine whether Hong Kong can get a fair share of the dispute resolution business under the BRI. In addition, the Hong Kong government and the relevant stakeholders in Hong Kong should also change their mentality from thinking only about Hong Kong's interests to putting themselves in the shoes of the Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macau (GHM) Greater Bay Area and come up with a collaborative strategy to develop dispute resolution mechanisms in the GHM Greater Bay Area together. Only in so doing will Hong Kong be able to get its share of dispute resolution business from projects under the BRI.