Mr. Wang Cheng-jie [Vice-Chairman and Secretary General,
CIETAC], Dr. Wang Wen-ying [Secretary General, CIETAC
Hong Kong Arbitration Center], Mr. Liu Jingdong [Vice
Chairman, 4th Civil Division, Supreme People’s Court],
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, thank you for inviting me to this meaningful
conference and for giving me the opportunity to address this
distinguished audience. On behalf of the Government of the
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (“HKSAR”) and the
Department of Justice (“DoJ”), may I extend our warmest
welcome to all of you.
You may notice that, just now, I started off by
describing this conference as a “meaningful conference”. I can
assure you that this is not a standard opening remark, and I said
that because I think this conference undoubtedly provides an
excellent platform for legal and dispute resolution experts to
exchange views, to share experience as well as to obtain updates
on the strategic vision and development of CIETAC and its Hong
Kong Arbitration Center.
One of the topics of today’s conference that very much
catches my eyes is “CIETAC in the year of breakthrough”. This is,
if I may respectfully say, a very apposite and well-chosen topic.
Not only is the year 2017 a year of breakthroughs for CIETAC,
the entire history of CIETAC is full of breakthrough in one form
or another. In the limited time available, I certainly cannot do
justice to all the breakthroughs and milestones in the history of
CIETAC. But allow me to highlight a few key examples.
The first breakthrough of course is the establishment
of CIETAC in May 1954, when the Central People’s Government
decided to establish a Foreign Trade Arbitration Commission
within the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.
About two years later (that is in April 1956), the Foreign Trade
Arbitration Commission was officially established and this
Commission is the very body that we now call CIETAC.
From the perspective of the HKSAR, the most relevant
breakthroughs of course include the setting up of the Hong Kong
Arbitration Centre by CIETAC in 2012, followed by the
establishment of the Hong Kong Arbitration Centre by the China
Maritime Arbitration Commission (“CMAC”) in 2014. Both
these arbitration centres are the first such centres established
outside the Mainland, and the HKSAR is very much honoured to
enjoy such a privilege.
Following the setting up of the CIETAC Hong Kong
Arbitration Centre, the next breakthrough concerns enforcement
of arbitral awards. On 13 December 2016, the Nanjing
Intermediate People’s Court of Jiangsu Province for the first time
enforced a CIETAC Hong Kong arbitral award in the Mainland. It
has been suggested that the significance of this case lies not only
on the fact that this is the first time an arbitral award made by
CIETAC Hong Kong is enforced by the Mainland court, but more
importantly the court’s written ruling specifically identified the
Arrangement Concerning Mutual Enforcement of Arbitral Awards
between the Mainland and the Hong Kong Special Administrative
Region (signed in 1999) as the juridical basis for determining
whether the arbitral award should be enforced1
many observers in the international arbitration community expect this
decision to open up more opportunities for Mainland parties and
parties from other jurisdictions to make use of the arbitration
services the Centre offers in Hong Kong.
Moving on, if I may, to the breakthroughs achieved by
CIETAC in 2017, the following matters surely will not escape our
First of all, CIETAC has introduced the Appointing
Authority Rules in Ad Hoc Arbitrations this June. Second,
CIETAC has released a set of Guidelines for Third Party Funding
for Arbitration this August to provide clear practical suggestions
on key aspects of third party funding for arbitration to parties
seeking funding, funded parties and the arbitral tribunal. Third,
CIETAC has published its own International Investment
Arbitration Rules, effective from 1 October 2017.
Each of these breakthroughs is remarkable on its own.
Ad hoc arbitration is an important, if not integral, component of
the international arbitration regime. Some sectors, such as the
maritime sector and the insurance sector, generally favour ad hoc
arbitration over institutional arbitration. The introduction of the
Appointing Authority Rules in Ad Hoc Arbitration by CIETAC is
a step which helps to take the development of the Mainland
arbitration legal regime to the next stage of significant
development. Once ad hoc arbitration is fully recognized and
properly resorted to, I believe that the arbitration community will
experience yet another exponential growth both in terms of the
quantity and quality of arbitration cases.
As regards the Guidelines for Third Party Funding for
Arbitration, the DoJ shares the vision with CIETAC. As you
may know, we have made two significant amendments to our
Arbitration Ordinance in June this year. One of these two
amendments clarifies that third party funding for arbitration and
mediation is not prohibited by the common law doctrines of
maintenance and champtery. To ensure safeguards are in place
for funded parties in arbitration, an authorized body will be
established by the HKSAR Government before the relevant
provisions come into operation, and it will consult members of
the public before issuing a code of practice with which third party
funders are expected to comply.
As regards the publication of CIETAC’s International
Investment Arbitration Rules, we likewise very much agree to the
wisdom displayed by this move.
In recent years, investment arbitration becomes a very
hot topic in the international arbitration arena. As a matter of
fact, there has been a significant growth in the number of
investment arbitrations. According to the International Centre
for Settlement of Investment Disputes (“ICSID”), as of October
2017, there are about 236 pending cases, which are nearly twice
as many as the total number of cases in 2009. There is of course
also an undisclosed number of investment arbitrations conducted
outside the framework of ICSID. Indeed, as more and more
Chinese enterprises begin to “go global”, coupled with the Belt
and Road Initiative that I will deal with in a moment, experts and
commentators in the relevant field believe that the growth in
investment arbitration is likely to continue.
We therefore welcome the publication of CIETAC’s
own International Investment Arbitration Rules, and we are glad
that the Rules are also applicable to the CIETAC Hong Kong
Arbitration Center. Since the DoJ is also very much interested in
the promotion of investor-state arbitration, I am sure there will be
plenty of room for co-operation in this regard.
When one talks about breakthrough, one can ill afford
to omit the Belt and Road Initiative announced by President Xi in
late 2013. While it has its historical and cultural heritage, the
Belt and Road Initiative is so visionary that its impacts will surely
surprise any breakthrough in modern times.
For the present purpose, allow me to say a few words
about the Belt and Road Initiative. According to the Ministry of
Commerce, in the first half of 2017, China’s investment continued
to see significant development. The total value of newly-signed
contracted projects in economies along the Belt and Road route
amounted to US$78 billion, taking up about 58% of China’s total
value of overseas contracted projects during that period. Such
huge investments demand a lot of professional support, including
of course extensive legal support, ranging from legal advice on
local laws, procedural rules and business practices of the
destination countries to managing legal risks and resolving
In a questionnaire survey conducted by the Hong
Kong Trade Development Council in mid-2016 in the South
China region, it was revealed that about 50% of the respondent
Mainland enterprises indicated that they would prefer to seek
professional services in the HKSAR2
. This increasing demand
for sophisticated and cross-jurisdictional legal and dispute
resolution services brings ample opportunities for our legal and
dispute resolution professionals, and which demonstrates that
CIEATC’s decision to establish the Hong Kong Arbitration
Centre is a right and commendable decision.
Hong Kong is well positioned to be the preferred
neutral seat of arbitration to resolve disputes involving Mainland
parties as well as parties from jurisdictions along the Belt and
Road routes and beyond. We constantly update our arbitration
legislation and enhance our dispute resolution infrastructure so as
to cater for the ever changing needs of the international arbitration
community. Over the past few days, I have been introducing the
latest development in the HKSAR’s arbitration landscape on
different occasions. I do not think I need to repeat them here at
Instead, allow me to reiterate and stress one point, and the
point is this. The economic development in the Asia-Pacific
region and beyond is taking place at an unprecedented pace.
The continued implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative and
technological advancements (including those advancements
relating to Big Data, the Internet of Things and Artificial
Intelligence) will accelerate the speed of future development
beyond imagination. The challenges facing us are definitely
daunting, and perhaps continuous efforts to make breakthroughs
is the one of the best ways to stay ahead of the rapid development
that no one in the international community can avoid.
Speaking for the DoJ, may I sincerely express our wish to
join force with the dispute resolution community and
organizations, including of course CIETAC, to make
breakthroughs together in the years ahead. When I travelled
overseas, many people asked me whether the HKSAR
Government is worried about competition from other jurisdictions
since more and more jurisdictions are interested to develop and
promote their own arbitration services. My answer is that I see
collaboration and co-operation, and that what is often described as
“competition” is a form of manifestation that each of us are doing
our very best to provide top quality services to the end-users of
dispute resolution mechanisms, which is after all what we
professionals are supposed to do.
On this note, it remains for me to wish this conference
1 Commercial Dispute Resolution in China: An Annual Review and Preview (2017) (Beijing Arbitration
Commission / Beijing International Arbitration Centre) (Wolters Kluwer Hong Kong Ltd.), p. 11.
2 Hong Kong Trade Development Council (1 December 2016) Chinese Enterprises Capturing Belt and
Road Opportunities via Hong Kong: Findings of Surveys in South China.