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Statement of the Co-Chairs of the Forum on the Belt and Road Legal Cooperation

2018/07/03

3 July 2018 Beijing, China

1. During 2 and 3 July 2018, over 350 delegates from governments, international and regional organizations, private sectors and academic institutions attended in Beijing, China the Forum on the Belt and Road Legal Cooperation jointly held by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China and China Law Society, with Mr. Kong Xuanyou, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of China, and Mr. Chen Jiping, Executive Vice-President of China Law Society, as Co-Chairs of the Forum, and conducted extensive, in-depth and productive discussions under the theme of “Jointly Build the Belt and Road: Rules and Coordination”.

2. In 2013, President Xi Jinping put forward the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Five years on, this Initiative has received positive response and broad support from the international community. Over 100 countries and international organizations have participated in this Initiative and have already achieved productive outcomes. The BRI is a Chinese proposal for the world. It has become a platform for open and inclusive cooperation and a global public good jointly developed by parties from different regions, at different development stages, and across different cultures and law systems.

3. As the BRI continues to develop, in addition to strengthening “hard” connectivity in physical infrastructure, there is a growing need for “soft” connectivity in legal infrastructure, rules and regulations. In this context, it is necessary to come together to discuss issues concerning legal cooperation, in order to provide better legal support and safeguards for the BRI.

Promoting international rule of law by enhancing cooperation under the BRI

4. The international rule of law is an important institutional guarantee for upholding state sovereignty, maintaining world peace and promoting common development. It reflects the shared pursuit by all countries of such ideas and values as sovereign equality, peace, inclusiveness, win-win cooperation,fairness and effectiveness. A sound legal environment is an essential prerequisite to the smooth progress of the BRI process.

5. Since its very inception, the BRI has always followed the principle of “extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits”, which is consistent with the fundamental principles of international law and the basic norms of international relations with the UN Charter as the core.

6. Legal cooperation, as an indispensable field of and link for international cooperation under the BRI, should be developed on the basis of the principle of “extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits” as well.

7. It is recommended that all parties participating in the BRI develop multi-level, multi-channel and comprehensive legal cooperation by exploring the establishment of cooperation mechanisms, identifying priorities through consultation, making action plans progressively, solving legal issues effectively and building consensus constantly, in order to lay a solid legal foundation for the BRI.

8. International and regional organizations have an important part to play in legal cooperation under the BRI, with their strengths in institutional networking, expertise and human resources. It is recommended that the parties participating in the BRI further strengthen cooperation with these organizations in relevant fields.

9. We believe that the BRI provides a new platform for implementing and a new momentum for promoting the international rule of law. As the BRI and the related legal cooperation continue to develop, the international rule of law will be improved and enriched, both in theory and in practice.

Abiding by and improving relevant international rules-based systems

10. The BRI aims to provide a platform for international cooperation characterized by equality, mutual benefit, openness, inclusiveness and transparency, and on the basis of international conventions, bilateral treaties and other international rules. As the BRI continues to develop, it is necessary to develop new rules and improve the rules-based systems in accordance with the circumstances and needs of all parties.

11. We support the parties participating in the BRI in their efforts to enhance the connectivity and compatibility between technical standards systems in the construction of infrastructure and other fields. They should take account of their particular circumstances and their developmental needs, draw upon applicable international standards, and explore jointly and on equal footing the proper standards for cooperation, in order to deepen international cooperation under the BRI.

12. In recognition of the crucial role of trade and investment in driving economic growth, we call for concerted efforts by all participants, in order to uphold the multilateral trading system and avoid and oppose any form of unilateralism and trade protectionism. We support the parties participating in the BRI in their efforts to conclude agreements on trade and investment, to promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, increase market access, and gradually reduce and eliminate barriers to trade and investment.

13. We support the parties participating in the BRI in their efforts to promote cooperation on laws related to financing, taxation, transportation, intellectual property rights, environmental protection, labor, anti-terrorism, the fight against transnational crimes and so on, so as to build a framework of rules and systems for the BRI that would feature stability, fairness, transparency and non-discrimination.

14. We support the parties participating in the BRI in their efforts to conduct multilateral and bilateral cooperation on accounting and auditing supervision, and to harmonize standards and provide equivalency in accounting and auditing, in order to provide structural safeguards for cross-border investment and financing activities and financial market connectivity.

15. The parties participating in the BRI are encouraged to cooperate in areas of civil and commercial laws and regulations on the basis of international general practice in civil, commercial matters, in order to reduce conflict of laws.

16. The parties participating in the BRI are encouraged to enhance cooperation on rules related to visa application and custom clearance, in order to facilitate cross-border movement of people and goods.

17. We call on the parties participating in the BRI to jointly strengthen anti-corruption cooperation, on the basis of the United Nations Convention against Corruption and other international conventions as well as bilateral treaties, in order to ensure integrity in the BRI process.

Actively preventing and properly settling disputes

18. As an essential safeguard for the BRI, efforts will be made to settle trade and investment disputes in the implementation of the BRI projects, fairly protect the legitimate rights and interests of all parties, and foster a business environment under the rule of law featuring stability, fairness, transparency and predictability.

19. We recommend that the parties participating in the BRI work together to prevent legal risks and avoid disputes effectively.

20. We support the parties participating in the BRI in their efforts to strengthen consultation and cooperation and resolve disputes through existing domestic and international dispute settlement mechanisms or institutions. Efforts should be made to explore the feasibility of establishing dispute settlement mechanisms or institutions that meet the needs of the BRI, including further discussion on establishing, if appropriate, treaty-based mechanisms or institutions, to prevent and resolve disputes.

21. We support the parties participating in the BRI in their efforts to deepen cooperation in judicial affairs and law enforcement, including exploring the establishment of cooperation mechanisms to strengthen mutual recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters and to promote service of judicial documents as well as investigation and evidence collection in civil and commercial matters. The parties participating in the BRI are encouraged to strengthen exchanges and cooperation regarding the ways and means of settling disputes other than by judicial settlement, such as mediation, arbitration and so on.

22. We stand for the settlement of disputes in an equitable, efficient and convenient way and appreciate the efforts made by countries to explore the establishment of diversified mechanisms of dispute settlement that allow judicial settlement, mediation and arbitration to play their appropriate and effective roles.

Advancing legal exchange under the BRI

23. Parties participating in the BRI, international and regional organizations, civil society and the academia are encouraged to conduct diversified legal exchange, share good and latest practices and facilitate cooperation in areas relating to the legal system, legal culture and legal education.

24. The legal service industries in the parties participating in the BRI are encouraged to strengthen consultation and exchange of information and to promote cross-border cooperation, so as to provide high quality and efficient services to governments and enterprises.

25. Parties participating in the BRI, international and regional organizations, civil society, research institutions and the private sectors are encouraged to jointly work on training legal professionals and capacity building.

26. We welcome China’s provision of funding to implement the “Belt and Road Legal Cooperation Research and Training Programme”, in order to support legal exchange and capacity building among the parties participating in the BRI.

27. The parties participating in the BRI are encouraged to develop mechanisms to exchange legal information and practice data, such as establishing an online platform for foreign law ascertaining and sharing, and an exchange platform on judicial cases.

28. The parties participating in the BRI are encouraged to jointly establish a database, for public access, of bilateral and multilateral treaties concluded and acceded to by the parties participating in the BRI.

Way forward

29. We suggest that further discussions under the theme of the BRI legal cooperation be conducted in appropriate forums in the future.

30. We call for respect for the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and international law, and for advancement of the BRI legal cooperation on the basis of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. We also call for contribution to building a Community with a Shared Future for Mankind and a world that enjoys enduring peace, comprehensive security, and common prosperity, and is open and inclusive as well as clean and beautiful.

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