Hong Kong (File Photo: China News Service/Hong Shaokui)
Hong Kong's status as a regional legal service hub and its international image make the city's role essential in the nation's ambition to establish a Belt and Road-themed arbitration mechanism, legal experts said on Wednesday.
The call came after the nation's top reform decision-making body－the Leading Group for Deepening Overall Reform－approved a guideline for setting up such a procedure and organization in a meeting that concluded in Beijing on Tuesday.
According to the guideline, the dispute-solving procedure and organization should be built with the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, and should be based on China's existing judicial, arbitration and mediation institutions.
Wang Guiguo, president of the Hong Kong-based International Academy of the Belt and Road, said Hong Kong is an ideal venue for the organization to operate its business.
Wang, who is also chair professor of Chinese and Comparative Law in the City University of Hong Kong, explained that the principles for the establishment of such an organization emphasized the participation of all countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.
Hong Kong, an international city that enjoys the world's freest economy, leading arbitration service and favorable geographic position, would easily win recognition and trust from foreign regions and nations, attracting them to settle disputes in the city, Wang concluded.
Meanwhile, Wang said it would offer an opportunity for Hong Kong to further consolidate its leading role in international arbitration services.
Echoing Wang on Hong Kong's edge, Secretary-General of Hong Kong International Arbitration Center Sarah Grimmer described Hong Kong as "the leading option" for setting up a Belt and Road arbitration center. She said the country's move is "very important" to Hong Kong as the city could contribute and benefit from what it has excelled in.
According to Grimmer, the number of cases handled by the HKIAC in 2017 increased by 47 percent year-on-year. Among them, approximately a third of the cases involved Chinese enterprises and Belt and Road jurisdictions.
According to a survey by Queen Mary University of London in 2015, the HKIAC ranked the third best arbitral institution worldwide. The number of dispute resolution cases handled by the HKIAC reached 460 in 2016 with the total disputed amount for the administered cases reaching HK.4 billion (.5 billion).
Raymond Leung Hai-ming, a Hong Kong arbitrator, believes that Hong Kong should team up with arbitration organizations on the Chinese mainland to offer a comprehensive solution for both common law and civil law clients.