Keynote Address by Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Law, Han Kok Juan, at the Belt and Road Initiative Forum in Xi'an
Mr Du Hangwei, Member of the Standing Committee of CPC Shaanxi Provincial Committee, and Secretary of Shaanxi Political and Legal Affairs Commission,
Mr Lu Pengqi, Vice Chairman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade
Baroness Fairhead, Minister of State, the United Kingdom Department for International Trade,
Professor Wang Han, Vice-President, Northwest University of Political Science and Law,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. It gives me great pleasure to join all of you today in Xi’an for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) forum. Xi’an is the capital city of 13 Chinese imperial dynasties, and the start point of the ancient Silk Road. Discussing the BRI in Xi’an has special meaning to me. I am very grateful for the invitation from the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) and the People’s Government of Shaanxi Province, and would like to express my most sincere congratulations to the Shaanxi leadership for the booming development they have brought to this ancient city.
Driving the development of the Belt and Road Initiative
2. The BRI initiated by China has united governments and energised businesses. It is bringing together governments, businesses, and people to realise the vision of a BRI built on mutual trust and benefit.
3. As BRI projects involve cross-border, high-value, long-term investments, commercial disputes are unavoidable. Agreeing in advance how these disputes will be resolved can help strengthen trust between parties. Resolving commercial and investment disputes in accordance with the law and protecting the legal rights of all parties equally will help create a stable, fair and transparent business environment built on the rule of law. Resolving disputes through commercial legal means can help avoid them turning into political conflicts.
4. The development of the BRI will require a holistic dispute resolution framework. How to develop a win-win framework for the more than 60 countries and businesses involved in the BRI on the principles of mutual trust and benefit is itself challenging. For such a framework to gain acceptance, its rules and procedures must be professional, fair and transparent; the organisation managing it must be independent, neutral and enjoy international credibility.
5. China and Singapore are old friends. When Chinese President Xi Jinping and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met in September last year and April this year, they identified legal and judicial cooperation as a new area for collaboration. In the context of today’s forum, I would like to suggest a few ways by which we can deepen collaboration.
6. Singapore is one of the countries that supported the BRI from its inception, and is a firm supporter of the BRI. Singapore is happy to partner China and other countries to develop a dispute resolution framework that meets the needs of the BRI and at the same time, enjoys international credibility. Xi’an is a key node in the BRI, with a rich history and geographical and policy advantages. We will be happy to link up with Xi’an to further node-to-node collaboration.
7. In addition, the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), the Singapore International Mediation Centre (SIMC) and the Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC) can work with the relevant agencies in China to develop an integrated, multi-modal dispute resolution framework combining arbitration, litigation and mediation, and to work together to provide international commercial dispute resolution services for disputing parties. The SIAC has established a representative office in the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone. Chinese parties consistently rank amongst SIAC’s top two foreign users. Last year, SIMC signed Memoranda of Understanding with the CCPIT Mediation Centre and the Hangzhou Arbitration Commission respectively to do joint training and cross refer cases.
8. Singapore also welcomes Chinese businesses, dispute resolution institutions and law firms to set up offices in Singapore. China’s investments in Singapore alone amount to about one-third of its total investments in Belt and Road countries, while Singapore’s investments in China accounted for 85 per cent of total inbound investments from Belt and Road countries. There are already more than 7,500 Chinese companies in Singapore. Singapore is a key base for Chinese dispute resolution institutions and law firms as they venture overseas.
9. Finally, I would like to once again express my gratitude for the warm hospitality from the CCPIT and the People’s Government of Shaanxi Province. I am very happy to be with everyone in ancient Xi’an, and I wish everyone a fruitful and productive forum. Thank you.