Illustration by Valeria Petrone On November 30, 2020, in a small classroom in Geneva, Switzerland, one of the world’s most powerful courts withered into nothing. That day, Dr. Hong Zhao, the last remaining member of the World Trade Organization’s Appellate Body, stepped down. For 25 years, the seven-person committee had provided the final say in trade disputes between the WTO’s member countries, acting in many ways as the referee of globalization. As of 2022, 98 percent of the $25 trillion global trade market took place between the WTO’s 164 member states. Dr. Hong Zhao, during her swearing in ceremony to the WTO Appellate Body, January 25, 2017. Credit: WTO But with Zhao’s departure, the Appellate Body, at least functionally, ceased to exist. “From tomorrow on, the Appellate Body will be an entity that exists only in the Treaty of Dispute Settlement Understanding,” Zhao said in her farewell speech, referring to the 1995 agreement that established the WTO appeals court. NorSubscribe or login to read the rest. Subscribers get full access to: Exclusive longform investigative journalism, Q&As, news and analysis, and data on Chinese business elites and corporations. We publish China scoops you won't find anywhere else. A weekly curated reading list on China from David Barboza, Pulitzer Prize-winning former Shanghai correspondent for The New York Times. A daily roundup of China finance, business and economics headlines. We offer discounts for groups, institutions and students. Go to our Subscriptions page for details.