NUS Law student wins CIBEL Global Network Ph.D. Scholar Prize

Francine Hug Ph.D. ’20

Congratulations to Francine Hug Ph.D. ’20 for winning the CIBEL Global Network Ph.D. Scholar Prize for her paper titled “New-Generation FTAs and China’s Legal Strategies: E-Commerce in the Shadows of Cybersecurity Laws” at the Inaugural China International Business and Economic Law (CIBEL) Global Network Conference and Young Scholars Workshop.

The Inaugural CIBEL Global Network Conference and Young Scholars Workshop hosted by UNSW Law’s Herbert Smith Freehills CIBEL Centre were held successfully in Sydney on 1 to 2 May 2019. Over 50 speakers and more than 150 attendees from all over the globe participated in the events over the two days.   Participants discussed a wide range of cutting-edge CIBEL issues, covering from classic law subjects like Competition Law, Corporate and Securities Law, Trade Law, Investment Law to the emerging FinTech and regulation of digital financial services, Intellectual Property Law and China’s ambitious “One Belt One Road” Initiative.

“Coming as an unexpectedly positive surprise, I feel deeply honoured and grateful to CIBEL for having generously awarded this prize. It symbolises tremendous hope on my sinuous path as an aspiring young scholar, giving the necessary strength and courage to follow my intellectual quests and academic endeavours with firmer conviction,” said Francine.

“I would like to express my infinite gratitude to my Supervisor, Associate Professor Wang Jiangyu, for sharing his invaluable guidance, expertise and wisdom in drafting this paper and the doctoral thesis at-large. I further heartedly thank the Vice Dean of Research, Professor Damian Chalmers, his predecessor Professor James Penner and their helpful administrative team Jaya and Normah, without whom I would have never had the unique privilege to attend this workshop. Moreover, I avail this opportunity to warmly thank Professor Andrew Halpin for his precious advice on research methodologies, as well as all fellow Ph.D. Students for patiently commenting on this paper’s earlier drafts. All my heartfelt thanks go to everyone at NUS Law for their respective support throughout this inspiring doctoral journey,” said Francine.

“Last but not least, I sincerely thank CIBEL Co-Directors Professor Deborah Healey and Associate Professor Wang Heng for having successfully hosted this fascinating Conference, as well as Senior Lecturer Dr Zhou Weihuan for thoroughly offering insightful recommendations on how to improve the paper,” she added.

About the Paper

This award-winning paper is an extract from the perhaps most controversial chapter of a doctoral thesis entitled “New-Generation FTAs and China’s Legal Strategies: Ruleshaping from Shallow to Deep Integration?”.

At the trade-cybersecurity nexus, its research objectives are to critically identify rationales behind China’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) perspectives; create mutual understanding between China and its trading partners; formulate unprecedented, futureproof and technologically-neutral provisions on thorny issues; and design FTA-strategies with highest common-denominators.

Due to its cutting-edge and sensitive nature, E-Commerce illustrates the essence of New-Generation FTAs creating state-of-the-art norms best embodied in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), taken as analytical benchmark.   Amidst roaring trade wars, the paper argues that where middle-grounds erode, carveouts in the form of exception, review and evolutionary clauses represent the most viable option to achieve trade agreements satisfactory to all Parties.

Its nucleus includes: 1) a comparative analysis of E-Commerce FTA-provisions; 2) a doctrinal examination of China’s Cybersecurity Laws and their CPTPP-discrepancies; 3) case studies investigating problematic exception clauses; as well as 4) normative proposals based on empirical findings for potential treaty language. The paper concludes with legal recommendations at macro and micro-level for mega regional FTA-negotiations where China could be a Party.