Matthew S. Erie

Matthew S. Erie is an Associate Professor of Modern Chinese Studies and Associate Research Fellow of the Socio-Legal Studies Centre at the University of Oxford. Erie’s interdisciplinary work stimulates conversations between law and anthropology. His current research, funded by a European Research Council Starting Grant, examines China’s approach to law and development outside China. Erie previously held academic positions at Princeton University and NYU Law School, and he was a visiting scholar at the National University Singapore Faculty of Law. He practiced law in New York and Beijing, and is a member of the National-Committee on U.S.-China Relations.

Designation: University of Oxford, Socio-Legal Studies Centre
Institution: University of Oxford, Socio-Legal Studies Centre
Paper: China's Law and Development Moment? Nonliberal Legal Imagination, Institution-Building, and Economic Growth
Abstract: "What is the role of law in China’s new globalism and how does it relate to past approaches? By the year 2020, China is on track to be one of the largest capital exporters in the world, the first time in modern history a nondemocratic state will have such a widespread impact on the developing world. While Chinese investment flows to tax havens, North America, and Europe, a significant amount reaches the global South. Both the current chilling in U.S.-China relations and the “Belt and Road Initiative” suggest that developing states will continue to be destinations for Chinese capital. As a legal question, investors in high-risk environments conventionally a) reform the legal systems of host states to increase predictability and/or b) rely on bilateral investment treaties to shield themselves from liability under domestic law. China is doing a) only to a limited extent and practices a modified version of b). China’s approach thus challenges received knowledge of “law and development,” a paradigm for economic development in poor states, promoted by the U.S. since the 1950s. Based on two years of fieldwork, this paper analyses the work of thought leaders in the PRC and in host states concerning the role of legal institutions to mitigate risk and protect rights, how this thought work may influence institution-building and promote economic growth, and its relationship to existing normative orders in order to draw the contours of a nonliberal legal imagination."