China has acceded to the United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (the “New York Convention”) for over thirty years. The Civil Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China (“PRC”) provides that Chinese courts shall recognize and enforce foreign arbitral awards pursuant to international treaties or under the principle of reciprocity. Therefore, the New York Convention serves as a basic guideline when Chinese courts decide whether to recognize and enforce a foreign arbitral award. The importance of interpretation and application of the New York Convention by Chinese courts is self-evident and well worth noting by the legal and arbitral community.
This article gives a brief introduction to the terms of China’s accession to the New York Convention, and intends to explain how the standards of the New York Convention are applied in real judicial practice in China. We examine the reservations that China made when it acceded to the New York Convention. We discuss the standards for recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards under the New York Convention, through examples and case studies. Case studies, while being based on actual cases, do not mean comprehensive and complete information of recognition and enforcement of all foreign arbitral awards in China. We also look at the internal reporting system currently in place and explore the challenges of reasonable interpretations of the terms used under the New York Convention, such as the term of public policy or “social public interest” in the Chinese context.