CWR > Volume 2(1); 2016 > Current Developments
Research Paper
Published online: March 1, 2016

Are the PRC BITs Applicable to China's Special Administrative Regions?In Consideration of the Sanum v. Laos case

Qianwen Zhang
Sichuan University School of Law
No.8 Building, No.3 Unit, Room 904, Jianshe Road, Gaodi, Chengdu, Sichuan, 610000 P.R. China
Corresponding Author:

ⓒ Copyright YIJUN Institute of International Law. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


After Tza Yap Shum v. Peru, the case of Sanum v. Laos, brought by a Macanese investor, re-attracted public attention to the critical issue of the applicability of the People's Republic of China Bilateral Investment Treaties in China's Special Administrative Regions. The Permanent Court of Arbitration held the PRC-Laos BIT extends to Macao according to the purpose and context of the BIT, but its reasoning is not tenable as its logic is flawed. In comparison, in the appeal, the conclusion reached by the Singapore High Court seems plausible, but there are still queries to the Court's admission of further evidence. The author argues that the PRC BITs are not applicable to Macao and Hong Kong, on the basis of analyzing the treaty interpretation methodologies of this case. Notwithstanding the fact that the final award has not been rendered as of now, the Sanum v. Laos Case carries significant meaning to investment protection in China's SARs.

Keywords : Bilateral investment treaties, China's Special Administrative Regions, International Investment Arbitration, Territory, Treaty Application

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