THERE is growing concern among foreigners about the way in which business disputes are resolved in China. Even kidnapping has reportedly been used to force investors to repay debts. So on the face of it, enacting laws to protect the interests of overseas Chinese investors in China should help ease their worries. But, on second thoughts, how will the enactment of a law alone safeguard the interests of these investors? Will the law be authoritative enough to override existing regulations imposed by local governments? Will the law be fully implemented and precisely interpreted? These are the questions to which overseas Chinese investors in China - their investments make up 80 per cent of all foreign enterprises - want to know the answers. To most of them, the laws themselves are not important. What matters is whether they are unified and clearly defined; whether there is a sound legal framework which guarantees enforcement; and whether the judicial process is efficient. What is the use of having a law in name only? Adding to investors' worries is the apparent defiance of some local officials towards national rules and regulations, and their seemingly different interpretations of such rules. To inspire confidence, the protection of overseas Chinese interests requires something bigger than just the drafting of a law. It can be achieved only if appropriate support is gained from local governments. Reports of a growing number of disputes between local officials and overseas Chinese investors have highlighted the seriousness of the issue. While some may argue that the proposed law is nothing more than a gesture, it could be meaningful if China is serious in wanting to restore its tarnished image among overseas Chinese investors. As long as there are foreign investors, there will be disputes. The problems will not end overnight.