September marks two years since the release of the Plan for Comprehensive Deepening Reform and Opening Up of the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone (the Qianhai Plan), and the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong International Legal-services District continues to open its door wider to the world.
In a recent move, China's Ministry of Commerce included the "development of the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong International Legal-services District" in its Priority List for Pilot Free Trade Zones (2023-2025), with particular emphasis on key initiatives in the Qianhai-Shekou Area. Since its inauguration in January 2022, the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong International Legal-services District has attracted 182 legal service entities across six distinct categories. Notably, Qianhai stands as the only region in Guangdong authorized to pilot joint operations of Chinese and foreign law firms. 7 joint ventures formed by law firms from Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macao across China have chosen Qianhai as their home, according to Authority of Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone.
The Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong International Legal-services District has forged an all-encompassing system for commercial dispute resolution, incorporating the Supreme People's Court (SPC)'s "judicial final review" mechanism and the Shenzhen Court of International Arbitration (SCIA)'s "finality of single-instance arbitration" mechanism. The arbitration rules and mechanisms established by the SCIA in Qianhai seamlessly align with global standards.
Chi Wenhui, deputy director of the Department of International Cooperation and Development at the SCIA, shared in an interview with journalists: "This year signifies the 13th anniversary of the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone, the second anniversary of the Qianhai Plan, and the 40th anniversary of the SCIA. As the first international arbitration institution in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, the SCIA reflects the outcomes of China's reform and opening-up endeavors, along with the evolution of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone. Following our establishment in Qianhai, our aggregate disputed value of arbitration cases in 2022 reached a remarkable 127.2 billion yuan, ranking number one in Asia and among the top three across the globe."
The development of four pivotal systems — a comprehensive commercial dispute resolution system, a rule system aligned with international standards, a full-chain and full-lifecycle legal service system, and a vibrant rule-of-law innovation system — collectively enhances the internationalization of legal services in Qianhai.
Wu Jiansheng, director of the Publicity Department at the Qianhai Belt & Road Legal Services Federation, remarked during an interview: "The 'four major systems', for one thing, make commercial dispute resolution more efficient. For another, they can fortify the legal service capacities and stimulate legal innovation, especially in the digital rule of law sphere. This will draw an influx of legal experts and businesses to Qianhai, contributing to the further opening-up of Qianhai's legal endeavors."
Experts suggest that the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong International Legal-services District can further deepen its unique capabilities in cross-border case jurisdiction, cross-border legal applicability, cross-border judgment enforcement, and more. This will likely entice more globally recognized arbitration institutions to establish a presence. Concurrently, it can broaden the scope of its arbitration practices, intensify collaborations with Hong Kong and Macao, and cultivate a pool of adept professionals, ultimately building itself into an more open legal service district.
Observers expect a promising trajectory for the Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong International Legal-services District, believing that Qianhai will become a new paradigm for international legal service hubs in China.
Source: Authority of Qianhai Shenzhen-Hong Kong Modern Service Industry Cooperation Zone