Day two started and ended in a haze
Authors: Jack, Fumiko and May
Our second lecture on Chinese Foreign Trade Law was presented by Professor Hu Jiaxiang. In just a few hours we were given a crash course in the basics of the Chinese legal system and how it operates within international trade laws. Unlike many neighbouring nations, China did not have a legal system supplanted by foreign powers. So rather than a common or civil law approach it has had a uniquely Chinese development of law. The codes used today to record legislation echo the teachings by past Chinese emperors, rather than European civil codes.
Since becoming a member of the WTO in 2001, China has implemented foreign trade policy through various legal structures. The Constitution was actually amended earlier, in 1993, to pursue a market economy which lead to the implementation of special economic zones. This has now been superseded by the free trade pilot zones, Shanghai being one of them. However, what might be surprising is that amongst all this 25% of enterprises are state run, who in turn contribute to 46% to the China’s total GDP. A very different landscape to the privatisation of government enterprise in Australia.
After lunch, we visited the Shanghai Arbitration Commission and they kindly supplied us with a factbook about the Commission and the Arbitration Rules, which we were able to take home. The Shanghai Arbitration Commission is an independent and impartial institution established according to the Arbitration Law of the People’s Republic of China. The Commission resolves both domestic and foreign disputes, and can involve issues surrounding real estate, construction projects, finance, intellectual property, and international trade, just to name a few. Luckily, we were afforded the opportunity to ask questions, and these ranged from broad questions such as, ‘how to become an arbitrator at the Commission?’ to more specific questions like, ‘why was there a spike in disputes between the years 2013-2014?”. This was an incredible opportunity and really allowed for insight into how the Shanghai Arbitration Commission operates.
After an informative afternoon at the Arbitration Centre, it was time for everyone to split up and explore Shanghai. Some caught the bus back to the hotel and a smaller group went for a walk to check out the nearby Jing’an Temple, but the rest of us thought it was about time to try out our skills at haggling with a trip to the Shanghai Fake Markets – not markets that aren’t real, but markets selling cheap, cheap knock-off clothes and electronics.
Endless rows of fake clothes at the fake markets
For some, the experience was more stress than it was worth. The underground market was alive with people trying (real hard) to push their wares, with everyone from kids to much older men trying to sell you watches, bags or anything else you can think of. Interestingly, we did notice a sign which let us know that the markets are actually a free trade zone, bringing some real world context to the content of our lecture that morning.
Shanghai pilot free trade zone at the Fake markets
A bag, jumper, pair of sunnies and two sets of chopsticks later, it was time to make our way back to Nanjing Road for a quick stop at one of the multi-storey UNIQLO outlets and a feed. Despite being packed like sardines into the rush-hour metro which ended up totally bypassing our stop for no reason, we finally made it to our station and after a quick shop at UNIQLO we made our way south to a little open-kitchen Bao restaurant near the Mao Zedong Former Residence. It seems unreal that a for the equivalent of $50, 5 people can eat their weight in steamed dumplings and noodles (including a very fishy shrimp roe noodle) plus a couple of Tsingtao each, but it is in fact VERY real.