The RCEP and Its Investment Rules: Learning from Past Chinese FTAs (The Chinese Journal of Global Governance, Vol. 3, No. 2, 2017, Forthcoming)
China’s FTAs reveal malleability as the most striking feature. The paper analyzes the following questions: what is the trend of China’s FTA approach to investment concerning malleability? Is China a rule follower, shaker or maker? How may China approach the RCEP regarding investment? It argues first that the malleability will probably expand from investment protection to investment liberalization. China converges with deep FTAs regarding investment protection and may incrementally move to investment liberalization. Second, increased malleability of China’s FTAs exists in regulatory autonomy and investor-state dispute settlement. Third, China is likely to be a rule shaker in the short to medium term, and become a rule maker later if challenges are addressed. Its approach may evolve from selective adaption to selective innovation. Finally, the RCEP may adopt low-level investment rules and an early harvest approach due to, inter alia, existing agreements and the nature of mega FTA.