BEIJING (AP) - U.S. and Chinese business groups are setting up a center in Beijing to mediate commercial disputes as an alternative to the cost and unpredictability of China's court system.
An agreement creating the U.S.-China Business Mediation Centre was due to be signed Thursday in New York by a Chinese government trade agency and the U.S.-based CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution.
The centre will have offices in New York and Beijing, according to the CPR Institute and the China Council for Promotion of International Trade.
The centre's creation comes at a time of record-high U.S.-Chinese trade and a corresponding surge in contract and other disputes between American and Chinese businesses.
It expects to handle as many as hundreds of disputes annually, said Thomas J. Stipanowich, president of the CPR Institute.
The center hopes to recruit experienced lawyers and business leaders as mediators, Stipanowich said.
Its founders said they hope to have 48 by the end of 2004.
"Mediation is not an expensive process, much less expensive than going to court,'' Stipanowich told Dow Jones Newswires.
"Often mediation can achieve its goals within a day or two or even a few hours.''
The membership of the nonprofit CPR Institute includes law firms and such companies as General Motors Corp., pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. and Intel Corp. - AP