This article examines legal and institutional aspects of the evolution of China’s approach to the dispute settlement mechanism of the World Trade Organization (WTO). It begins by analyzing the impact of China’s changing attitude toward international law on the escalation of international economic law research. In particular, the article provides the first detailed examination of China’s efforts to strengthen public-private cooperation in building its WTO legal capacity. China established think tanks to bridge the information and communication gaps between the government and industries. To develop its WTO lawyers, the Chinese government has consistently required international law firms to collaborate with domestic firms in major disputes and engaged the latter in third party cases. Finally, the article evaluates China’s assertive legalism strategy that enhances its recent participation in WTO rule-making and disputes against the United States and the European Union. This research therefore provides a valuable case study for other emerging economies and the multilateral trading system.