Thousands of foreign-related conflicts resolved by mediators
In bustling Yiwu, Zhejiang province, a distinctive mediation system has emerged as a savior for businesses involved in foreign trade disputes.
For the past eight years, Sushil, a seasoned foreign trade businessman and mediator, has witnessed this system effectively resolving disputes at an early stage, preventing the collapse of hundreds of businesses.
Having spent two decades navigating the intricacies of foreign trade in Yiwu, Sushil is well aware that disputes are an inherent part of running a business.
He said that unresolved disputes not only disrupt mutual understanding between different parties, but also divert crucial time, finance and other resources to complex problem-solving processes.
Recognizing the need for a fast, efficient and easily accessible dispute resolution system to facilitate local development, the authorities in Yiwu established in 2013 the country’s first people’s mediation committee for foreign-related disputes.
The Commission for Political and Legal Affairs, or CPLA, of the Communist Party of China Yiwu Committee said the mediation committee enlisted foreign entrepreneurs based in Yiwu to serve as mediators. A team of 14 mediators from 13 countries has been formed in the city. Between them, the mediators speak nine major languages used worldwide.
As of September, 1,219 foreign-related disputes had been successfully mediated, involving a total amount of 132 million yuan ($18.6 million), with a success rate of 98 percent.
The foreign mediation model championed by Sushil is a dynamic process designed to resolve business or civil disputes between foreign and local entities. It revolves around mutual discussions, presenting subject details supported by evidence or a preliminary investigation.
Discussions are grounded in law, rights equality, and negotiations that uphold integrity. The mediation committee, known for its speed, and which provides its services for free, has proved to be the epitome of efficient conflict resolution, Sushil said.
Having joined the mediation committee as a volunteer in 2015, Sushil said all foreign mediators are volunteers who act as facilitators to encourage discussion and negotiation between parties, and guide them toward a resolution to their dispute.
Each mediator often starts with primary training involving the mediation process, basic law, legal procedures and studies, and they also witness ongoing mediation cases, he said.
Mediators are assigned cases based on availability and language, Sushil said. The mediation model consists of professionals drawn from the ranks of foreign businesspeople, lawyers, market administrators, shipping experts, the Ningbo Maritime Court, and various organizations and associations.
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