Preface and Acknowledgements

In: China’s Foreign Investment Legal Regime
Yawen Zheng
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Foreign investment has long been considered as a catalyst for countries’ development. As early as the era of colonization, European countries had acquired various resources like raw materials, agricultural production, and cheap labour through the expansion of oversea trade and investments in colonies. Since the late 20th century, more and more developing countries have begun to compete for foreign investments through the implementation of various strategies, including mainly the conclusion of investment protection treaties, as well as regulatory and market reform. The motivation behind the changes is the expectation for the benefits brought by foreign capitals, like advanced technologies, income growth and employment. However, some measures have proved to be less effective than the others, which is one major cause of the unevenly spread of foreign investments across different countries. Moreover, the benefits of foreign investments are not generated automatically, while concerns like environmental protection, human rights, and national security can also be raised. Accordingly, the design of foreign investment legal framework can play an important role in reaping the full benefit of foreign investment flows and addressing the concerns they have raised.

In this regard, China is not an exception in the developing world, which has also opened up the market and encouraged foreign investment flows since the late 1970s, expecting that the country’s development can be promoted thereby. After more than four decades’ continued effort, it is worth looking back and considering whether China’s foreign investment legal regime has worked as expected – reaping the full benefit of and addressing the concerns raised by foreign investments. This question is the focus of this book. To better evaluate the legal regime, five development goals relevant to foreign investments are selected as the standard, which have been spelt out in China’s policy papers and the development report: (A) building technological capacity, (B) deepening integration into the global economy, (C) promotion of green development, (D) protection of security, and (E) participation in global economic governance and rule-making. These goals are not peculiar to China, but rather common among different countries. Therefore, I hope this book can serve as an important reference for policy makers, scholars, and other stakeholders who study countries’ approaches to making the most of foreign investments.

This book is rooted in my PhD research project conducted at the University of Edinburgh. I am particularly grateful to my principal supervisor Dr. Filippo Fontanelle for inspiring the topic and guiding me through the research. My second supervisor, Mr Navraj Singh Ghaleigh, has provided valuable advice and encouragement that help to drive the project forward. I am also privileged to have received very helpful comments from Prof James Harrison, Prof Heng Wang, and Dr Ana Maria Daza Vargas, the examiners of my thesis or the first-year panellists. The research has also benefited from Prof Sundhya Pahuja’s suggestions on methodology in legal research during the doctoral workshop at the University of Glasgow. I would also like to thank the reviewers for the comments and feedback.

Part of the research also benefited from my two-month visit to the Leiden University. My thanks go to Prof Eric De Brabandere and the colleagues there for the valuable discussions and feedback. The revision of the manuscript was mainly conducted at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the National University of Singapore. I am grateful to my postdoc mentors Prof Anatole Boute and Prof N. Jansen Calamita for providing sufficient flexibility that allows me to continue the project.

The publication of this book has benefited from the supportive work of the Brill editorial team, including Ms Kelley Baylis, Ms Beth Derr, and Mr Martin Banigan. My colleague at the National University of Singapore Dr Charalampos Giannakopoulos has provided much helpful advice during the editing process, and Mr Guibin Xie has exerted great effort in helping to find the beautiful cover picture.

I would not have begun my PhD journey without Dr Danni Liang introducing me into the field of international investment law when I was an undergraduate at the Sun Yat-sen University. I also feel fortunate to have the guidance of Prof Martins Paparinskis in the early stage of developing my PhD project.

It would be impossible to complete the research without the emotional support and endless joy and fun from my PhD colleagues at the basement office, where I have spent my whole PhD life. For that, I am especially grateful to Israel Cedillo Lazcano, Jiahong Chen, Alice Claire Krzanich, Chrystala Fakonti, Arianna Florou, Alvaro Garcia, Arantxa Gutiérrez Raymondova, Zahra Haji Jaffer, Lynn Kennedy, Jesus Manuel Niebla Zatarain, Nicolas Ojeda, Fernando Pantoja, and Francesca Soliman. I have also learnt a lot from other colleagues in the community: Qiang Cai, Jing-han Chen, Shunyu Chi, Dawoon Jung, Wenlong Li, Dagmar Topf Aguiar de Medeiros, Ke Mu, Zhoulei Peng, Xinxiang Shi, Ke Song, Qingxiang Wu, and Xiaoou Zheng.

Lastly, I would like to express my gratitude to my parents for supporting my studies in the UK, and my husband Nianhua for always being there for me.

The text covers, as far as possible, the development up to 1 July 2022.

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