China is becoming one of the key stakeholders in the international investment regime. It is, however, still unclear what role China can play in the ongoing reform of the international investment regime. Starting from this overall focus, this article analyses the most recent period of China’s international investment policy-making. Mapping the contents of investment treaties signed since 2008 it argues that China undertook a partial ‘NAFTA-ization’. Whilst China has adopted a number of clauses invented by the NAFTA countries, it introduced these clauses in an incoherent fashion. Looking at the drivers of this peculiar policy, this article argues that China’s investment treaty-making practice is largely inspired by its partner countries. As a result of this particular negotiation policy, Beijing’s approach to international investment rule-making is inconsistent. This belies the argument that China can make a significant contribution to reforming the international investment regime.
Since the early1980sChina has formulated three different model treaties that broadly adopt the European approach to investment treaties. These three models are reprinted in Norah Gallagher and Wenhua Shan Chinese Investment Treaties: Policies and Practice (OUP 2009).
See eg 1983 Model US BIT (1983) art 2(1) (1983) 15 L & Pol Intl Bus 273 A-1; North American Free Trade Agreement (signed 17 December 1992 entered into force 1 January 1994) art 1103 (1993) 32 ILM 289.