San Diego International Law Journal


Mo Zhang

Document Type



Enforcement of foreign arbitral awards in China has always been a widespread concern. There is not only a fear of deficiency in the Chinese legal system, but also a disconnection between foreign perception and Chinese reality. Since the nation joined the New York Convention in the 1980’s, China has made efforts to fulfill its treaty obligations. Foreign parties, however, remain skeptical about whether foreign arbitral awards will be fairly enforced in the country.

In 2015, the Supreme People’s Court of China (SPC) issued a judicial interpretation that contains provisions explicitly addressing several confusing and controversial matters on foreign arbitration. In 2017, the SPC adopted several new rules concerning the judicial review of arbitration. Both the judicial interpretation and the new rules represent the nation’s burgeoning development in foreign arbitral award enforcement.

There are several matters critical to the enforcement of foreign arbitral awards in China. In order to overcome the enforcement hurdles, it is important to understand the factors affecting the enforceability and the approaches taken in people’s courts. The enforcement mechanisms and cases denying enforcement reflect the conceptual distinctions and practical features underlying the treatment of the arbitral awards that are characterized as “foreign” in the country. China faces challenges in a number of aspects in light of handling foreign arbitral awards properly in the country, and certain issues that affect their enforcement remain to be resolved.