On 26 September 2023, a hybrid seminar titled “The Evolving Case Law System in China” was jointly hosted by the Finnish China Law Center and GENIAL. The event featured Qiao Liu, Professor and Deputy Director of the Centre for Chinese and Comparative Law, School of Law, City University of Hong Kong as the speaker, and Jaakko Husa, Full Professor in Law and Globalisation at the Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki presided as the chair of the seminar.
Professor Liu described judges making law as an inevitable trend in China which arises from the abstractness of the provisions of laws, the imperative to to maintain consistency in judicial decisions as well as the vertical control exercised by the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) over lower courts.
Professor Liu elaborated that the SPC is empowered to select, edit and re-write its own judgments and cases from lower levels and publish them as guiding cases. All guiding cases are approved by the SPC Judicial Committee and adopt a defined structure and style. People’s courts of all levels should canzhao [参照,] guiding cases when deciding similar cases. He emphasized that this entails that the people’s courts should not only consider but also follow these guiding cases. The guiding cases, however, function differently from precedents in common law systems. While the people’s courts may cite guiding cases in the legal reasoning section of judgment, only essential points/rules section of a guiding case should be canzhaoed. The application of guiding cases is increasing, yet judges frequently refrain from expressly citing them within their judgments.
In addition, cases and SPC judgments published on the SPC Gazette, although lacking legal binding, can have influence in judicial practice. The extent of this influence varies depending on specific circumstances. Not only the cases published in the SPC Gazette, but judgments decided by higher-level or specialized courts also carry weight. These cases may assume special significance within a field of law. For instance, an earlier decision of a High People’s Court may directly impact the decision of an Intermediate People’s Court below, or a decision of a specialized court may be viewed as persuasive authority on legal issues falling within its area of expertise.
The conference was a resounding success, with 27 panels and 2 roundtables delving into a wide array of topics crucial to Chinese law development as well as teaching of Chinese law in Europe and European academic co-operation with China.
Transnationalizing Labour Law: A Chinese Perspective
Transnationalization has been a visible trend of development in the regulation of labour conditions over the past two decades. Labour provisions can be found increasingly in free trade agreements, labor standards of international financial institutions, documents of corporate social responsibilities and so on. The transnationalizing of labour regulations has brought imminent challenges to the presumption of territoriality underlying national as well as international labour laws. The challenges are particularly acute in China where labour regulations are seen as domestic and thus irrelevant to its international policies. The presentation examines the development of transnational labour law and its impact on China. It further explores the potential role China may play in positively addressing the South-North gap in the current project of transnational labour law.
About the speakers
Yifeng Chen is an Associate Professor at the Peking University Law School and Deputy Director of the Peking University Institute of International Law. Before joining the Peking University, he was a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki from 2010-2013. His fields of interest include international law, international organizations, international and comparative labour law.
On 20 June 2023, the Finnish China Law Center will hold an online mini seminar on “The Application of the Proportionality Principle by Chinese Courts” at 10:15-11:45 Helsinki time (9:15-10:45 CEST / 15:15-16:45 CST).
The event will be chaired by Björn Ahl, Professor and Chair of Chinese Legal Culture at the University of Cologne and President of the European China Law Studies Association.
Selective Application of the Principle of Proportionality in Chinese Administrative Litigation
This paper provides a quantitative analysis of the application of the principle of proportionality in administrative trials, based on published online judicial decisions. The analysis reveals an imbalanced impact with regards to its three sub-principles. We observe that the level of support obtained from national legislation in applying the principle of proportionality, a factor previously overlooked, significantly influences the outcomes. Our findings indicate that both the principle of necessity and the narrowly-defined principle of proportionality demonstrate mediating effects in the correlation between national legislation and judicial decisions, suggesting that judges selectively apply the proportionality principle in administrative trials. We propose two strategies to promote the localization of the principle of proportionality. For the principles of appropriateness and necessity, actualization can be achieved in line with the current surge in administrative law codification. As for the narrowly-defined principle of proportionality, a proper understanding and handling of the relationship between public and private interest is essential. Furthermore, judges should be urged to explicitly delineate the criteria for assessing relevant interests during their reasoning process to improve the objectivity of interest measurement.
State-centric Proportionality Analysis in Chinese Administrative Litigation
This article examines the application of proportionality in Chinese administrative litigation over the last two decades, and argues that courts in administrative litigation that serve the party-state and tend to uphold state/collective interest have altered proportionality to be state-centric. It finds that the courts invoked proportionality in a negligible portion of all administrative litigation judgments and had inadequate emphases on protecting individual rights. Proportionality has not appreciably assisted the courts in enhancing their oversight of governmental power and protection of individual rights. This article suggests that this is attributed to the restricted function of administrative litigation in China’s party-state governance structure and owing to the country’s long-held belief that public interest takes precedence over individual rights. Administrative litigation, which China’s ruling party employs to resolve principal-agent issues, is seriously constrained. The courts are expected to review the formal legality of executive actions, but not their substance. Informed by the Chinese human rights belief, which favors collectivism over individualism, the courts are skewed toward public interest in the balancing analysis when applying proportionality.
About the speakers
Dr. Xiaohong Yu is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the School of Social Sciences, Tsinghua University. She earned her Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University. Prior to her position at Tsinghua, she served as an An Wang Postdoctoral Fellow at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies and was a Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Government at Harvard University. Her primary research interests include Chinese politics, comparative judicial politics, and empirical legal studies. She continually explores China’s judicial reforms, the interplay between law and politics in China, and instructs courses such as “Judicial Politics” and “Law and Politics in the Era of Big Data.” Her scholarly work has been featured in leading domestic and international journals and academic presses, including the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, China Review, Cambridge University Press, CASS Journal of Political Science, Tsinghua Law Review, Open Times, and China Law Review, among others.
Dr. Shiling Xiao is a Post-doctor Research Fellow at the School of Law, City University of Hong Kong. He obtained his PhD in law from HKU, MPhil in international and comparative law from the University of Macau, and LLB from the Southwest University of Political Science and Law. He was a practising lawyer in Mainland China and was called to the bar in 2018. His research interests embrace comparative public law, human rights law and judicial review. His publications appear in International Journal of Constitutional Law, Hong Kong Law Journal, Journal of Comparative Law and others.
A large number of abstracts/proposals were submitted, and we were very impressed with the quality and diversity of the papers we received. We would like to extend our gratitude to all the participants for their interest and contributions.
If you have been accepted to present your paper, congratulations! We look forward to your presentation during the conference. If, your paper was not selected, please do not feel discouraged. The selection committee reviewed a considerable amount of excellent submissions this year, of which we were only able to select a certain portion for the conference. We encourage you to continue your research and try again next time.
The activities of Chinese companies abroad are an integral part of the robust transformation of today’s economic, geopolitical, and sociocultural landscapes at the local, regional, and global levels. The presence of Chinese capital abroad has been encountering and provoking a wide range of reactions among different political and social actors—from suspicion, reservation, and resistance to warm welcome and exceptional enthusiasm.
This talk will look at the ongoing situation in Serbia, a country governed by a regime that has been among the closest partners of the Chinese government and Chinese companies in Europe and beyond. The talk will focus on the legal dynamics that enable and maintain the much acclaimed “iron-clad friendship” between the two countries and the energetic economic interactions between their governments and businesses. The legal dynamics in question pertain to the Chinese companies that work in Serbia’s dirty industries, namely the production of tires, iron, and steel. Special attention will also be paid to the analysis of the legal aspects of China’s presence in Serbia’s copper and gold mining industry.
About the Speaker
Dušica Ristivojević is a senior researcher in the Department of Cultures of the University of Helsinki. Dušica specializes in the longue-durée dynamics of China’s global interactions, print and digital media, and social organizing in and out of China. She is finalizing her book manuscript on the transnational links of China’s political movements and is observing the country’s presence in Europe’s Eastern peripheries with regard to dirty industry and digital technology.
The event began with a presentation on “Debating the Legality of Social Credit in China – A Review of Chinese Legal Scholarship” by Björn Ahl, Professor and Chair of Chinese Legal Culture at the University of Cologne and President of the European China Law Studies Association. Björn explained that Chinese legal scholars conceptualize the social credit system (SCS) as an emerging ‘reputation state’ or as an unprecedented instance of ‘social engineering’. The SCS is consisted of three main pillars: the financial credit industry, credit tools to enforce laws and court decisions as well as mechanisms to strengthen the integrity of government affairs. Compared to the other areas of the SCS, the regulatory environment of financial credit is relatively mature and relevant data protection laws provide for a basic level of legal protection of data subjects including effective legal remedies. Government integrity in the third pillar is facilitated by the extension of the credit disciplinary measures to state organizations and personnel. While the first and third pillar are less controversial as there exist basic legal protections with regard to the former and the latter is neither well-developed nor directed at private entities, the recent legal debates and thus Björn focused on the second pillar that has developed ‘social credit tools’, in particular joint disciplining for trust-breaking mechanisms, in order to strengthen the enforcement of law and court decisions.
The second speaker, Marianne von Blomberg, Research Associate and PhD candidate at the Chair of Chinese Legal Culture, University of Cologne discussed “Reputational Regulation through the Social Credit System”. Marianne first clarified that the SCS is not a national social credit score for each citizen but is many local pilot projects, some of which use scores. The punishments are not based on scores but on violations of the law. She went on to examine the SCS and its disciplinary measures including formal joint agency disciplining, and reputational disciplining through local government websites, local social credit information platforms, national social credit, information platforms, State agency websites, regional newspapers, map apps in Wechat, regional TV and radio, broadcasting and warnings in dial tones. Marianne also explored the large-scale disclosure of government information, which lies at the core of SCS reputational punishment, has long been implemented in China as access to government data empowers public oversight over state administrations. This purpose was first manifested in the Open Government Information Regulations passed in 2007, which mandate administrative agencies to disclose information to increase the level of transparency in government work. Governmental information disclosure can, in a different fashion, also serve regulators. Regulators disclose, or mandate organizations to disclose themselves, information that indicates how well they comply with laws and regulations Such regulatory disclosure is based on the idea that the engine for change is reputation, and the fuel for that engine is information.
The seminar concluded with insightful comments on the topic by Huifen Yin, Associate Professor at the School of Law, Shanghai University of Political Science and Law.
On 29 October 2022, Professor Kimmo Nuotio, Board Member of the Finnish China Law Center held a guest lecture on Methodology of Criminal Law Theory: Art, Politics or Science? as part of the PKU Law School Distinguished Global Faculty Lecture series. The lecture discussed the role of the general doctrines of penal liability in the criminal law theorising.
In 2021, Professor Nuotio published the edited volume “Methodology of Criminal Law Theory: Art, Politics or Science?” together with Professor Shin Matsuzawa. In his presentation, Professor Nuotio told the story behind this book and introduced some ideas that had come up in the different chapters. One debate concerns the issues was whether we should abandon a normativist approach and move towards a more realist and even causalist understanding of law as the Scandinavian Realists suggested a few decades ago.
He especially discussed the different paths of development as regards the conceptual understanding of the crime, which is a summary of the understanding of the comprehensive system of the different prerequisites of penal liability. He also made some remarks on this search for a concept of crime in a comparative setting.
The German doctrine stands for many as the most progressive and as the ideal model which has been discussed or even copied in many countries. But can it be copied? Professor Nuotio commented on the discussion from a Finnish point of view. The Finnish story tells that a long-term German influence was interrupted after the World War II, and when the connections were built again in the 1980’s, this did not lead to a transfer and direct adoption of German ideas, but rather to a birth of a genuine Finnish doctrine which is related to the German one but which is more pragmatic. In the Finnish case the development of the national doctrines was linked to the need to modernise the outdated text-books as well as the need to be able to serve the legislature which was about to reform the so-called general part of the Penal Code. German criminal law theory was not he only source of inspiration, since also Swedish and other Nordic law was relevant and served as a point of reference. Also the case law of the Supreme Court of Finland played a role since the doctrine had to be compatible with it as well.
In Finland a legal reform of the general part of the Penal Code was completed in 2004. The provisions on penal liability are more detailed and comprehensive than the original ones included in the general part of the Penal Code of 1889, thus serving the interests of legal certainty as suggested by the criminal law principle of legality. The criminal law principle of legality itself had become listed as one of the fundamental rights of the individual in the Finnish constitution.
On 8 September, the Finnish China Law Center held an informal meeting between Björn Ahl, Professor and Chair of Chinese Legal Culture at the University of Cologne and students and researched at the Faculty of Law. This talk was titled as ‘Why and How Do We Study Chinese Law in Our Times’.
The talk highlighted various topics relevant to the students interested in Chinese law: current challenges, the features of Chinese legal system, and many aspects of academic cooperation between Western universities and China. Not least due to China’s zero-Covid strategy, the loss of physical access to Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan has caused damage to academic world. Practitioners and scholars have lost a way to discuss and conduct interviews with each other and the access to primary sources has been limited or made more difficult as a result. In the long run, this isolation might even lead to the lack of interest in the subject by younger researchers if longer stays are not possible.
However, the talk also shined some light on possible career prospects that remain for European students of Chinese law. China and developments of Chinese law will be influential for Europe as well, and despite the current challenges, Chinese markets remain as the most attractive in terms of long-term growth. This indicates why there is an urgent need of expertise on Chinese law in Europe.
Cooperation will not be easy. Academic freedom is limited in China and censorship of research publications is constantly taking place. Demand for cooperation still exists and some speculate Singapore’s development into a center of Chinese law research. For Europe, however, the most crucial thing remains to be the co-ordination of teaching and research of academic institutions in Europe. In any event, cooperation continues to be desired.
The blogpost was written by the Center’s intern, Samppa Penttinen.
The seminar consisted of two presentations. The first was by Ronald Brown, Law Professor at the University of Hawai’i Law School and was titled as ‘Chinese Labor Practices, Treaties, Uyghurs, and CAI: Keeping Promises’. In his presentation, Professor Brown was speculating whether Chinese labor policies have shifted towards international standards or is it just that China is changing without change. The presentation examined the latter by calling attention to China’s many reservations of its signed and ratified international agreements.
The debate on Uyghurs have hampered China’s relationship with the West in the recent years. This issue was also raised in the presentation by Professor Brown who pointed out the different language used by the two sides: the West accuses China of ‘genocide’ while China constantly refers to the re-education camps which are needed in the thought-reform of the Uyghurs. The EU-China CAI might be pending, but the US’ new 2022 Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act and EU countries’ Due Diligence laws were brought up as new legislation to watch for. Professor Brown concluded his presentation with recent comments by the UN Human Rights Committee that, for China, made an unfavorable assessment of the situation.
The second presentation of the day was presented by Martin Lavička, Assistant Professor at Department of Asian Studies at Palacky University Olomouc, and Julie Yu-Wen Chen, Professor of Chinese Studies at the University of Helsinki. The duo discussed the topic of ‘Recent Developments of the Rule of Law with Chinese Characteristics’. Like Professor Brown, this presentation was also opened with a rationale on China’s international law standards before moving onto the on-going discussion about rule of law in China.
The core of the presentation focused on the development of religious freedoms under Xi Jinping. The assessment included a look on the recent administrative measures which, in summary, imply growing control of the party-state. Religious groups are set to function in accordance with the CCP’s ideologies. Assistant Professor Lavička and Professor Chen noted that this process started long before Xi and is set to continue in these times when the CCP’s tolerance to any contesting ideologies is becoming lesser. The duo concluded the presentation by an observation that the convergence of law-in-practice and law-in-books, considering China’s recent developments, may not always be a good thing.
The blogpost was written by the Center’s intern, Samppa Penttinen.
On Tuesday 6 September 2022, Björn Ahl, Professor and Chair of Chinese Legal Culture at the University of Cologne and President of the European China Law Studies Association, gave a guest lecture at the Finnish China Law Center. The topic of his presentation was ‘International Law in Chinese Courts’.
The lecture discussed Chinese law and legal scholarship on the domestic effects of international law, application of international law by Chinese courts, Chinese courts’ interpretation of international law and domestic law and Chinese courts’ participation in international norm-making.
The Chinese Constitution does not stipulate the effects of international law within the domestic legal system. However, ordinary legislation and judicial interpretations of the Supreme People’s Court include enabling clauses that mandate the direct application of international law under certain conditions . However, in recent years, provisions that refer to international law were removed from legislation which signals that international treaties have become less relevant for domestic courts. General observations of Chinese scholarship shows that domestic courts display a conservative attitude towards international law and often hesitate to apply treaty provisions.
Professor Ahl went on to examine application of international law by Chinese courts especially in case of IP, human rights, double taxation avoidance and diplomatic and consular treaties, as well as their interpretation of international law. He observed that domestic courts have developed a consistent practice of directly applying over 30 international treaties to disputes about IP, international trade, maritime commerce and international air and rail transport as well as judicial assistance in civil and criminal matters. Chinese courts increasingly rely on the principle of consistent interpretation. However, courts in general do not apply international treaties that constrain executive organs of the State.
Concerning Chinese courts’ participation in international norm-making, Professor Ahl noted that overall party-state policy encourages Chinese state organs to participate actively in the formulation of international norms and to strengthen discourse power and influence in international legal affairs. Domestic court decisions may have the effect of confirming rules of international law or give them a novel interpretation that may trigger protest or acquiescence by other states. Only if domestic court decisions are noticed, persuasive and endorsed by other states, courts, international organizations or codifying bodies, they may exercise certain influence on the complex processes of the development of international law.
M.Sc. (Admin.) Pia Eskelinen will present her dissertation on the legal status of women in China, especially regarding land rights in rural areas, for public review on 9 September 2022 at 12:00. The The public examination will take place at University of Turku, Calonia 1.
Docent Anja Lahtinen (University of Helsinki) will serve as opponent and Dean Johanna Niemi (University of Helsinki Faculty of Law) as the custos. The event will be held in Finnish.
In recent years, Chinese society has progressively begun to be defined by Confucian values and society’s interference with media freedom. This has also affected the working /operational environment of Chinese women. In her doctoral thesis, Eskelinen examines the legal status of rural Chinese women and women’s legal position in Chinese society. The thesis shows that the application of legislation in China has become more unequal, with women and their basic rights being placed in a more disadvantageous position.
Eskelinen uncovers what the legal status of rural Chinese women is in relation to land rights. Alongside this question, Eskelinen considers and examines more in general, the question of women’s legal status and the equal status of women in Chinese society and how President Xi Jinping’s political discourse has affected the status of women in China.
News concerning the Chinese rural women often goes unnoticed due to bigger news. News related to the economy and dissidents is important and must be made visible. Eskelinen, however, states that rural Chinese women form a large individual group whose contribution to China’s economic and social development often goes unmentioned.
“The everyday life of ordinary women forms an integral part of China’s gross national product and well-being”, Eskelinen points out.
President Xi Jinping’s impact on the state of China’s gender equality
In recent years, under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has returned to a society where Confucian values increasingly determine how society works. In addition to this, society’s interference with media freedom, for example, has alarmingly increased. According to Eskelinen’s doctoral research, the turning point was in 2016. At that time, President Xi gave a speech in which he emphasized that Confucian values are engraved in the hearts of Chinese people.
“After the speech, China began to move back to a more patriarchal society and women’s operating environment narrowed. It was considered that a women’s place is to take care of the family”, Eskelinen says.
In addition to this, women’s organizations in different regions started offering different courses to women, which focused on how to be good wives and daughters. Eskelinen regards the most worrisome is that the application of legislation has become more unequal, as it places women and their basic rights at a disadvantage.
Women’s appreciation and problems from the point of view of equality
Eskelinen wants to highlight the appreciation of women and the problems in equality, because women’s role and contribution to the well-being of different countries are often ignored. Finland is no exception.
In Finland, the “Lotta’s” contribution to the war effort has been downplayed, and a solution to the wage gap in female-dominated fields has still not been found. “It’s easy to appeal to the lack of money”, Eskelinen reminds.
According to Eskelinen, however, it is important to see beyond the money, attitudes and structures.
“It is not enough, for example, to light buildings in blue in honor of nurses. The idea is beautiful, but it only creates an illusionary appreciation, not a real one”, Eskelinen reflects.
Eskelinen hopes that societies from China to Finland would pay more attention to ordinary people and ordinary women and give them real value.
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The blogpost was written by the Center’s intern, Annette Rapo.
The Centre is pleased to announce a seminar on complex relationship between Sinology and Chinese philosophy, organised by the Nordic Network on Chinese Thought (NNCT), in a hybrid format and as a contact seminar at the University of Lapland on the 14th October, 2022.
The seminar “Is Sinology philosophy, is studying Chinese philosophy Sinology?” will be led by Professor Tao Jiang as the key-note speaker, remapping the intellectual landscape of classical Chinese philosophy through key categories of humanness, justice and personal freedom.
The event will then be followed by (1) the discussion of the evolution of the concept of ren (humanness) in Confucian philosophy by Senior Research Fellow Jyrki Kallio; (2) the discussion of the nature and definition of ”concepts” in traditional Chinese thought by Professor emeritus Torbjörn Lodén; and (3) the presentation of the argument of European philosophy offers promising resources for the practice of and approach to cross-cultural philosophy by Professor Matti Nojonen.
The full programme can be viewed here. The participation link will be opened on the NNCT homepage in due time before the event takes place.
This blog post was written by the Center’s intern, Li Tsz Yau Dorothy.
On 15 June 2022, Professor Eva Pils from King’s College London delivered a guest lecture on the topic of “China’s challenge to international human rights law: a case of synergic corrosion”.
The lecture commenced with the case of Cao Shunli (1962-2014), a Chinese human rights activist arrested by Beijing in 2013 and subsequently died in a military hospital. Another incident mentioned in the prologue is the recent visit to China of Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, who was then criticized for failing to speak for Uyghurs in Xinjiang. The two cases shown that, while UN principles were still referred to as international standards by domestic human right advocate, China is yielding increasing influence on international human rights law domestically and via international organizations.
Professor Pils presented China’s challenges to human rights law in five aspects. She first pointed out that the human rights violations of China within its borders have transnational impacts. Examples include the prevention of Cao Shunli and suppressed Xinjiang Uyghurs from reaching international audience, and also the suspected export of forced labour to other countries.
The second challenge concerns the suppression of facts by intimidation and ‘drowning out’ of criticism. The suppressive actions by China were not only domestic but also extended to affect international researchers working on the Xinjiang issue (e.g. Zenz, Smith Finley, Jerden). China’s denials of human rights violations, avoidance of international accountability mechanisms, and soliciting support from other countries exemplified the international challenge.
Thirdly, Professor Pils talked about China’s discursive strategies to deflect human right criticism. In the Xinjiang case, Beijing claimed the re-education camps were to develop detainees’ vocational skills for economic development. Another common argument by China is national security and anti-terrorism.
At the global level, China is propagating its system as liberal and democratic to propose an alternative governance model in Chinese style, giving rise to the fourth challenge. Xi Jinping suggested the idea of ‘shared future for mankind’ and that the world should be ruled by “Ritual propriety” in substitution of the existing universal human right principles.
The fifth challenge is external to China. The withdrawal of populist or nationalistic state actors from international law institutions posed threats to the binding force of international law and legal norms. For instance, the US quitting UN Human Rights Council, UNRWA, WHO was a sign turning against legal institutions.
After conceptualising the synergic corrosive effects among China and other would-be autocrats in liberal democracies, Professor Pils concluded that we need to reaffirm human rights indivisibility and buttress civil and political rights to defend international human rights law.
This blog post was written by the Center’s intern, Lam Kam To Kuinton.
The Finnish China Law Center had the opportunity to interview Pia Eskelinen, a PhD student at the University of Turku. Her current PhD is titled “The legal status of women in China, especially in rural land rights”. Eskelinen has carried out extensive research and published numerous pieces on the Chinese hukou system, women’s land rights and gender politics in China.
Could you tell us about your background?
I was working as a managerial director at a golf course and decided to study business law at the open university to support my work. My initial fascination with China originated from my interest in Chinese food, architecture and calligraphy. In 2011 our family adopted a daughter from China and after eye-opening visits to the rural parts of China, my fascination only grew stronger. I was intrigued to learn more about what is behind the traditional Chinese culture and pictures of rice fields. Once I got accepted to the University of Eastern Finland for a master’s program, I started to research the Chinese hukou system. My master’s thesis on the Chinese hukou system was so interesting and I found the topic easy to write on, I then chose to conduct my doctoral research on the topic. Evidently, my studies to help with my managerial skills in the golf environment got out of hand so to say.
Could you share your motivation behind your doctoral research on Chinese women’s land rights and Chinese gender politics in general?
My interest in Chinese women’s rights and gender politics blossomed when I visited China and first-hand saw the hardship and reality of the lives of rural Chinese women. Adopting a girl from China was really the eye-opener to the difficulties that women and girls face. I wanted to clarify and make these difficulties visible. Regarding, women’s land rights, in my research for my master’s thesis on the hukou system, women’s land rights kept on popping up and I thought it was strange and different compared to Finland, naturally I wanted to learn more. Generally, there is research being done more broadly on employment and migration in China, research in women’s land rights especially those of rural women seems scarce.
Your master’s thesis examines the Chinese hukou system and rural women’s rights, could you tell us more about your findings?
The hukou system is divided into a rural and an urban one in, which a person’s location is registered to the correct system. The hukou system essentially dictates what benefits a person will receive from the state. These benefits include things such as pensions and housing benefits. Commonly a person in a rural area will belong to the rural hukou system. Similarly, a person located in an urban area will belong to the urban hukou system. There may be cases in which, however, a person holds a rural hukou in an urban area or an urban hukou in a rural area. In reality, the two systems are not equal as those of a rural status are not entitled to the same rights of social security and healthcare compared to those with an urban status. Those with a rural status are entitled to a piece of land, which essentially accounts for their income and social security. However, in cases of a bad year, i.e. a bad harvest, this income may be lost.
Even though the Chinese Government and local level councils have done improvements for the hukou, it remains a discriminatory system.
Especially for women in rural areas, the hukou system is particularly unfair. In many areas, contracts that entitle women for their piece of land are often under the name of their fathers or the sons, and not themselves. The hukou system is thus especially discriminatory against women with a rural status, since they are vulnerable due to being economically dependent on their families. There are certainly substantial differences in the rights that women possess in China depending on their hukou system.
In your article “Tackling intimate partner violence is not of interest of China” you discussed the state of women’s rights in China, where do you see women’s rights heading in China?
From a political standpoint, President Xi Jinping’s political discourse is not gender-neutral. The rhetoric, words and narrative are very old-fashioned, and it seems that the government believes that women should be housewives and their place is at home taking care after children. The political leadership as such is not hostile towards women, however, women are put in a box and their lives are getting narrower. Recently, the All-China Women’s Federation came out with the statement, that it is much better for women to marry someone rich than for them to get an education. Those women who educate themselves waste their years and after finishing their education they are as good as a “yellow pearl”. Discouraging women from educating themselves is a strong statement and a worrying one. Although within the communist party equality between men and women is approved, feminism beyond the communist party’s guidelines doesn’t seem to have a place in China. Unfortunately, the state of women’s rights and gender politics is not good and there is little evidence of it improving in the near future.
The interview and report were done by the Center’s intern, Annette Rapo.
The IPR University Center organized an online Seminar on “Standard Essential Patents in China” on 23 March 2022, in collaboration with the Finnish China Law Center. The speakers include Jin Haijun, Professor at Renmin Law School; Richard Vary from Bird & Bird; Ruben Schellingerhout, from the European Commission and Eeva Hakoranta, Executive Vice President at InterDigital Inc.
The Seminar opened with a presentation by Professor Jin Haijun on the topic of “SEP/FRAND disputes in China.” He expounded SEP/FRAND disputes from the perspective of China courts, which granted anti-suit injunctions (ASI) in four major IP cases, upon which the EU requested information. After addressing legal issues concerning SEP/FRAND, jurisdictional territories, and ASI, he raised several implications for IP management towards new harmonization in global SEP dispute solutions.
In the next part of the Seminar, Richard Vary gave a presentation on “The UK approach on the resolution of FRAND disputes and its relationship with China”. The presentation consists of a detailed explanation of the English patent trial system and a comparison of the valuation approaches used in the UK and China. He also suggested improved metrics for portfolio strength, including citation analysis, contribution counting, third party essentially studies and jurisdiction weighted patent counting.
Following up next was the presentation on “Anti-suit injunctions in the EU perspectives” by Ruben Schellingerhout, who stressed that patents have brought great importance in many industries. He clearly listed the competition guidelines, judgments and cases in relation to the developments in anti-suit injunctions, particularly in China. He also drew attention to the difficulties in relation to retrieving decisions in China despite the presence of a legal basis for WTO’s request for consultations.
The last part of the seminar was concluded by Eeva Hakoranta, on the topic of “SEP and FRAND – Globally and in China.” She emphasized the recognition of a rule-based system under the new world order, especially when we all have been living in a globalization era, who are able to actually share well-being with less developed countries to a very great extent. China, as one of the beneficiaries of globalization should also submit to the same set of rules.
This blog post was written by the Center’s interns, Li Tsz Yau Dorothy and Lam Kam To Kuinton.
On 15 March 2022, the Finnish China Law Center organized the online mini seminar titled ‘Chinese Perspectives on Public International Law’. The speakers were Yifeng Chen, Associate Professor at Peking University Law School and Björn Ahl, Professor and Chair of Chinese Legal Culture at the University of Cologne.
The seminar began with Professor Yifeng Chen’s presentation on “Conceiving Infrastructures as Governance: China and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)” which highlighted the implications of BRI infrastructure projects on regional and international governance. Professor Chen noted that infrastructures such as ports, special economic zones, highways, railways, and airports are heavily invested in since they are important in terms of connection, integration, as well as circulation of goods, knowledge, and power. Infrastructures are embedded in social arrangement and economic life. Thus, it is a strong embodiment of China’s standards and politics. He further explained the economic, political and social influences of the BRI infrastructure projects on host states and communities affected by the projects as well as their role in the establishment of a multilateral governance blueprint.
In his presentation on “Chinese Positions on Global Constitutionalism, Community of Common Destiny for Mankind and the Future of International Law”, Professor Björn Ahl emphasized that global constitutionalism is not only a hermeneutic device for understanding new developments in international law, but also represents a political agenda that argues for the further constitutionalization of international law. In a similar vein, the Chinese concept of a community of common destiny for mankind provides ideas for forward-looking political action to shape international law. He went on to discuss Chinese legal discourses and government statements that relate to elements of global constitutionalism and the community of common destiny to identify the values and structures of the future international legal order envisaged by China.
During Spring term 2022, the following Chinese law courses will be taught within the Global Governance Law Master’s Programme at the University of Helsinki Faculty of Law, one of our member institutions:
Comparative law and Chinese legal system: history and presence by Professor Björn Ahl
The course is designed to help students gain an understanding of comparative law approaches used in examining culturally different law and knowledge of the historical background and contemporary development of the Chinese legal system and its key characteristics.
China in International Organisations – Transnational Governance by Dr. Kangle Zhang
The course will focus on China’s role in major international organisations, especially WTO, and transnational governance as well as the influence of international organisations on the Chinese legal system and regulatory models.
Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Law in China by doctoral candidate Yuan Li
The course aims to provide the students with a comprehensive overview of Chinese sustainable development strategy and its related policies and legal regulations. The course examines relevant corporate social responsibility and sustainability laws from the perspective of Chinese and Western multinational enterprises operating in China.
Chinese Business and Company law: Governing Finance and the Economy by Dr. Kangle Zhang.
The course explores the Chinese financial market and financial regulations, Chinese business and financial regulations in the global context, Chinese business law and company law and legal institutions that oversee business entities in China.
The Center and the University of Helsinki Faculty of Law will also continue to organize the internship course in which the students will contribute to Chinese law-related activities undertaken through the Center and the Faculty.
On the verge of 2022, we would like to extend our sincere gratitude to the Center’s friends and followers for having supported us in 2021. We wish you all a Happy New Year and hope to see you again in 2022 with many more academic activities await.
On 22 November 2021, the Finnish China Law Center held an online mini seminar on the topic of “Recent developments in Chinese Labor Law”. The event was part of the Center’s new mini seminar series on topic issues of Chinese law. The seminar was chaired by Ulla Liukkunen, Professor of Labour Law and Private International Law at the University of Helsinki and the Director of the Finnish China Law Center.
The seminar began with a presentation by Ronald Brown, Law Professor at the University of Hawai’i Law School on “Potpourri: Offshore Views of China’s Labor Laws and Practices”. Domestically, Professor Brown explained how labour laws in China are good on paper, however, are a work in progress, since there are significant inconsistencies in labour practices and enforcement. From the offshore perspective, he discussed the impact of domestic labour law on trade and investments. As an example, he noted how domestic Chinese labour practices can have cross-border impacts where they are carried to third countries through investments such as the Belt and Road Initiative.
The second presentation was held by Tianyu Wang, Associate Director of the Social Law Department of the Institute of Law, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, on the topic “The internet platform labour law in China: The Rise, Controversy, and Policy Trends”. He noted that internet service platforms offer vast new opportunities in jobs and careers in China and introduced the four different organizational platforms in China. Professor Wang outlined the new legal challenges that the rise of platform work presents in labour law. Notably, the Chinese courts are faced with the difficulty in differentiating the type of relationships between platform workers and platforms as employers. He observed that in cases, the Chinese courts often rule that this relationship is a civil one rather than a labour relationship subsequently ignoring the control that platforms have over the workers.
The third presentation was held by Professor Ulla Likkunen on “Decent Work and SDG 8 – Observations of Chinese Approach”. Professor Liukkunen discussed how SDG 8, Decent Work and Economic Growth can add value to labour law since it is directly connected with the work of the ILO Decent Work Agenda, which reaffirms the objective of social justice. She discussed how China has developed the decent work programme by efforts related to increasing the quantity and quality of employment, promoting and extending social protection in the workplace and strengthening the rule of law and realization of fundamental principles and rights at work. She noted how work still needs to be done to implement decent work in China. Importantly, although China has not ratified all ILO fundamental conventions, all member states of the ILO including China should respect, realize and promote the ILO declaration on fundamental principles and rights at work regardless of the state of ratification.
The final presentation was held by Yan Tian, Assistant Professor & Assistant Dean at Peking University Law School on “A Constitutional Theory of Workplace Discipline in China”. Professor Tian outlined how Article 53 of the Chinese Constitution lists the duty of workplace discipline. Unlike most Constitutions, the Chinese one lists both the rights and duties of citizens. He explained how the Article has socialist roots in raising the consciousness of citizens in discipline, since factories were seen as an extension of the state. Progressively workplace discipline has evolved with China moving towards a market economy and capitalization to restrict the employers right to punish. The Article has thus evolved with the state only partially siding with employers and adopting a “preventative” or “educative” take on workplace discipline rather than punishment.
This blog post was written by the Center’s intern, Annette Rapo.
On 2 November 2021, Professor Kimmo Nuotio, Board Member of the Finnish China Law Center held a guest lecture on Criminal Law and Sustainable Development as part of the PKU Law School Distinguished Global Faculty Lecture series. Professor Nuotio is a renowned legal scholar with extensive Chinese collaboration experience and a Professor of Criminal Law at the University of Helsinki. The Global Faculty lectures series is an opportunity for expert legal scholars to share thoughts and in-depth perspectives, whilst nurturing global awareness among students.
Within his lecture, Professor Nuotio examined how the notions of criminal law and sustainable developments have not often been linked to each other and calls for further discussion of this relationship. Examples such as environmental criminal law and corporate liability were discussed from this point of view. He outlined how according to the European view, criminal law should not be measured against purely instrumental values, therefore as a means to an end, since a state- or society-oriented view on criminal justice would risk the capability of criminal law to stand for individual freedoms and liberties. Professor Nuotio, however, noted that it is fair to consider how criminal law could best be used to support societal development. In his lecture, Professor Nuotio posed and examined several questions such as it is fair to ask about how criminal law could best be used to support societal development and whether the notion of sustainability actually adds anything new? Finally, the role of criminal law in regard to reaching the UN Sustainable Development Goals was discussed.
This blog post was written by the Center’s intern, Annette Rapo.
The European China Law Studies Association (ECLS) was founded in 2006 to advance the research on Chinese law. It has since become a notable international venue for all the scholars and practitioners interested in Chinese law.
Besides blog posts, annual conferences, and many other events, the ECLS is gathering information about Chinese law taught in Europe. The map on the ECLS website aims to cover all the study programs and elective courses which are focusing on Chinese law. The current map shows over 20 courses in 13 different countries.
However, the map is yet to be completed. Institutions in Europe that offer Chinese law courses are welcome to update their information on the current map by sending an email to Marianne von Blomberg (email@example.com).
This blog post was written by the Center’s intern, Samppa Penttinen.
The seminar began with a presentation by Björn Ahl, Professor and Chair of Chinese Legal Culture at the University of Cologne on ‘The Development of Chinese Smart Courts within the Broader Context of Judicial Reform’. He remarked that as China is currently at the forefront of technical and digital development, its experience in smart courts and judicial reform would be a good subject for comparative study.
Professor Ahl started with an introduction on the description of smart courts. In a smart court, litigation activities are carried out online with limited human interference. Software applications, algorithms and big-data analytics are used to support the judicial process. He noted that the smart courts form a small part of the overall policy toward judicial informalization. The objective of judicial informatization and smart courts is to create a more just and fairer judiciary, more consistent adjudication and better monitoring and supervision of cases. Professor Ahl also gave some examples of the applications utilized in smart courts including systems that can automatically draw analogy between similar cases to provide in-depth materials and guidance in decision-making for judges to review and those that to systems that can process and cross-examine case texts and parties’ information to determine if there are any overlapping procedures.
The second presentation titled ‘The Rise of Smart Courts in China: A Pathway to E-justice in the Digital Age?’ was given by Wen Xiang, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Copenhagen. He explained that the reason behind the need for smart courts in China is the sharp increase of cases which places heavy burden on judges. Since 2013, China has initiated the informatization of courts. Internet courts were established in Hangzhou (2017), Beijing (2018) and Guangzhou (2018). Professor Xiang then gave a brief introduction of four of the techniques that have been employed in smart courts including electronic case-filing, remote trial, online mediation platform and electronic delivery system. He stated that smart courts have the potential to promote quality of justice, improve judicial efficiency, provide convenience for the people, and build judicial big data system.
In their presentations, both Professors expressed concerns regarding potential bias in algorithms in smart courts, possible inaccuracy in algorithm-based and data-based decision-making mechanisms, uncertainties about the influence of private developers on the deliver of justice, lack of guideline on data security and protection of privacy, and unequal access to technology.
On 11-12 October 2021, the China Law Center together with Faculty of Law at the University of Helsinki and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) organized the 11th Sino-Finnish Bilateral Seminar on Comparative Law. This year, the seminar was centered around the theme of Sustainable Development and Role of Regulation.
The seminar began with opening words from Professor Pia Letto-Vanamo, the Dean of the Faculty of Law and Chair of the Board of the Finnish China Law Center, and Professor Mo Jihong, Director of CASS Law Institute. Both emphasized the significance of sustainability to society and development as well as the role of the seminar as a platform to exchange knowledge and broaden the understanding of the legal systems in China, Finland and Europe and how each tackles essential and also very complex issues in sustainable development and regulation. During the opening ceremony, Professor Björn Ahl, President of the European China Law Studies Association and Visiting Professor at the University of Helsinki, shared his thoughts and experience on the challenges and opportunities of research of Chinese law in Europe.
The first session of the seminar dealt with sustainable development and role of regulation. The session began with a presentation by Associate Professor Li Xia on ‘Transformation of Regulatory Objectives and Methods in Risk Society: A Case Study of Safety Regulation in Hazardous Chemicals Industry’. Assistant Professor Lin Xiaoxiao next addressed the general clauses in the Chinese Tort Law and Civil Code on environmental tort issues, punitive compensation and responsibility for environmental damages. Next, Professor Matti Nojonen discussed a different interpretation of Chinese tradition on self, freedom and humaneness as societal process. Finally, Professor Pia Letto talked about difficulties of legal comparisons. Especially challenging is the comparison between European and non-European legal systems and institutions.
The second session covered sustainable business models and their regulation. In his presentation, Professor Zhao Lei looked into three dimensions of the revision of Chinese Corporate Law including its functions, practices, and position in coordination with other laws. Professor Jukka Mähönen gave an overview of the EU business regulation and sustainable finance initiative as tools to activise sustainable business through his presentation titled ‘Sustainability in European Union Business Regulation’. Assistant Professor Tang Linyao discussed the commercial and legal prospects of privacy-by-design, taking privacy-preserving computation regulation as an example. Lastly, Dr Heli Korkka-Knuts explored the role of behavioural regulatory design in optimization of corporate crime prevention and support of global sustainability transformation.
The third session focused on environment protection, rights and regulatory approaches. Professor Liu Hongyan talked about the inclusion of ecological civilization to the amendment of the Constitution and new development of environmental rule by law in China. Dr. Seita Romppanen discussed the role of law in sustainability transitions and identidied avenues for further legal research on the role of law in sustainability transitions. Next, Assistant Professor Yue Xiaohua presented the regulation path and implementation mechanism of green consumption in China while Dr. Tiina Paloniitty assessed the role of environmental law and governance as a core of sustainability law.
The last session of the seminar covered decent work and the protection of platform workers in China, Finland and EU. This session saw two presentations: one from Professor Ulla Liukkunen under the title ‘Fundamental Labour Rights and Platform Work – A Cross-border Perspective’ and the other from Associate Professor Wang Tianyu under the title ‘Toward the Tripartite Laws of Labor – A Chinese Solution for the Protection of
Platform Workers’ Rights and Interests’.
The China Law Center is pleased to announce the launch of a new mini seminar series on topical issues of Chinese law. The series gathers esteemed scholars to present and discuss current issues, trends and challenges in different topics of Chinese law and legal culture.
The series aims to deepen knowledge on specific topics of Chinese law and legal culture and provide a chance for discussion with experts from the field. It also seeks to encourage students and young scholars with passion for Chinese law and legal culture to further learn about the latest information related to the their subject of interest and research.
The events are free of charge and open for anyone with an interest in Chinese law and legal culture.
The first three seminars will address different aspects of Chinese smart courts and judicial system (October 2021), labour law (November 2021) and IP law (Spring 2022). The IP law seminar will be organized in cooperation with IPR University Center.
The programmes of the events will soon be published on the Center’s web page and social media.
The Finnish China law center had the opportunity to interview Law Professor at the University of Hawai’i Law School, Ronald C. Brown. Professor Brown is an expert in Chinese labour law with experience from several decades in various roles. He has also personally lived and taught law in China.
How did you become interested/involved in Chinese labor law?
Before coming to Hawai’i in the 1980s Professor Brown was teaching some labor law in William & Mary Law School in Virginia. When he came to Hawai’i he got involved in international labor law. Then he took a trip to China and fell in love with the country. He was teaching at Peking University Law School and became friends with experts in Chinese labor law with whom he had opportunity to work. At that time back in the 80s Chinese labor law was only evolving. Later he put together some books on for example Chinese labor law. Professor Brown says Hawai’i was a good advantage point to reach out into China. From the U.S. it is halfway there.
During your long career, what are the most important moments of understanding or single findings considering Chinese legal culture?
Professor Brown tells that he has become aware of China by living there, meeting people, and having university colleagues and neighbors. ”I think the moment of understanding comes from just getting to know people and realizing that the Chinese are just a lot like us. Politics are politics in America and in China. But the people are real.” Professor Brown adds that he always loved the Chinese and their Irish-like good sense of humor. He mentions the Chinese phrase ”can I eat it” when talking about ideas and concepts. At first he did not understand the phrase but found out it was about how useful the information was.
On legal system, Professor Brown got involved early on with the Chinese legal institutions. In the 80s, Professor Brown worked together with a Chinese Law Professor keeping up with the new Chinese legislation. They soon had a room full of new laws that were evolving. It became clear that at Deng´s time there was legalization going on and Professor Brown says he was lucky enough to watch it and be a little bit part of it.
You have published broadly about labor law and economic relations considering not only USA, EU and China but also for example Russia and Latin America. From a global perspective, what do you think are the main strengths and weaknesses of Chinese legal culture? What could other legal systems learn from the Chinese?
As back in the 80s the Chinese basically had some leftover laws from Mao, Professor Brown considers it amazing how rapidly the Chinese were able to evolve and professionalize a whole legal system. In his opinion the Chinese labor laws are wonderful but there are problems in enforcement. Other Chinese characteristics he mentions are commerce-skills and sensitively protective attitude towards their sovereignty. Professor Brown also thinks the Chinese have good sensitivity towards everyday citizens even though there are logistic problems with 1.4 billion population. He reminds how China has lifted millions of people out of poverty.
Do you think fundamental differences between Chinese and Western contract conceptions and legal systems in general cause issues when drafting FTAs?
Professor Brown starts his answer by telling how the analytical thinking process of the Chinese differs from the Americans. He compares it with water going down the sink in the opposite direction. They might reach the same results using different thinking process. According to Professor Brown, the Chinese legal system has a bit civil law and maybe a touch of common law but he emphasizes the Chinese characteristics coming from China´s special history. ”Whatever comes out at the end of the day in China is Chinese for sure, legally speaking”, he laughs. He thinks FTAs (Free Trade Agreements) reflect that as well and from Chinese point of view ”commerce is commerce and labor is labor”. Therefore, China doesn´t see labor provisions belonging to FTAs and their FTAs with other Asian countries tend to have no labor provisions included. However, the FTAs with some larger developed countries must contain labor provisions.
Where in your opinion lay mainly the historical roots of Chinese contemporary labor relations? How do you see the role of Chinese imperial history and foreign influences?
First, Professor Brown notes that he is not a Chinese historian. In his class on Chinese labor law, he starts from Mao who took a lot from Russia. Then in the 80s and 90s came legalization by Deng. During his times teaching in Peking University Law School he got to know surprisingly that the Germans had had their influence too. They had been early advisors in the development of Chinese labor law. For political reasons, China might avoid too straight western influences.
Professor Brown stresses the importance of historical understanding of Chinese law. ”When you look at the Chinese law you can´t just look at it on the face. You have to have a little bit of sense of how it evolved, where it came from, how the Chinese legal people are interpreting that.” He uses contract as an example. In China, contracts are not as fixed as in the U.S. They are more like living relationships that change over time. Another cultural-historical Chinese specialty he mentions is guanxi, the question of how close is it to corruption.
Professor Brown concludes his answer by stating how fascinating it is to follow Chinese legal development. ”It is so enjoyable. China is so varied and so different and so always coming up with something new.”
The interview and report were done by the Center’s intern, Elias Jakala.
On 24 May 2021, Professor Matti Nojonen from the University of Lapland gave a guest lecture on ”Xunzi´s practical philosophy of governance, concepts of rites (li), law (fa) and social order and contemporary Chinese Party-State”. During his lecture, Professor Nojonen gave an interesting insight into Xunzi´s (c. 300 – c. 235 BC) thinking and the concepts of li and fa. Apart from the historical discussion, Professor Nojonen also talked about the Chinese contemporary trend to value Confucianism. At the end of the lecture, he gave answers to questions arising from the audience.
Xunzi was an important Confucian thinker after Confucius (551 – 479 BC) and Mencius (372 – 289 BC). Xunzi lived in the ”Warring States era” when there was more social disorder compared to Confucius´ times. He wrote a comprehensive book ”Xunzi”. As Professor Nojonen pointed out, Confucianism is not a static philosophy. Xunzi in his part also modified it. In general, Professor Nojonen reminded that the concepts in China differ from western concepts. Chinese concepts are more practical and not so clearly defined. Traditional Chinese does not even have a word for concepts and they can be verbs at the same time.
Xunzi was influenced by the Jixia Academy of his era. The question of how to bring order to society was important to him. Li (rite, ritual) was already a Confucian concept but Xunzi developed a full theory of li. According to Xunzi´s theory of li, human nature is evil and humans are driven by certain desires and inborn emotions. Therefore, Xunzi´s view on humans born evil differs from Mencius´ more idealistic view on humans being potentially good. In Xunzi´s theory, li is the tool to control the desires and emotions humans are born with. However, because it is a rather vague concept, it is any ruler’s monopoly, but also his responsibility to define li for his people, which makes li a practical and deliberate tool of governance.
An example of li coupled with other concepts is liyi with yi meaning „justice/righteousness“. Yi is what differs humans from animals. However, according to Xunzi, humans are born evil and without yi, but they can attain liyi by studying and thereby handle their evil desires. Professor Nojonen pointed out how Xunzi´s view differed again from Mencius’: Mencius saw studying as a way to become good while Xunzi saw it as an instrument to control evil. Xunzi stressed the importance of wei (conscious activity) and not leaving one´s fate to the hands of tian (heaven or nature). Another related concept is fen (distinction of social classes). According to Xunzi, people should stay in their social classes, as that makes them understand justice and easier to control.
For Xunzi, li was not enough to govern. Fa (law, regulation) was needed too in maintaining social order. Fa can be understood as a method of governance that constrains the behavior of people, especially with the penal code. It is therefore the „backbone“ that lies underneath li and stabilizes the society. One of Xunzi´s students, Hanfeizi, was a founding father of legalism, which led to the rough legalist Qin-dynasty, which only lasted for 17 years. However, Xunzi differed from strict legalism because he thought that fa is subordinate to li. A symbiotic relationship between li and fa can be seen as Xunzi´s legacy.
Professor Nojonen talked about the recent ”turn to own classics” in China. Xi Jinping has been the driving force of it. He has, for example, visited the birthplace of Confucius and has given a speech on Confucius´ 2.565th birthday. Professor Nojonen also discussed contemporary Party-State interplaying li and fa in the Xuncian sense. In his summary remarks, Professor Nojonen stressed the importance of Xunzi for the Chinese culture. Only the Xuncian insertion of fa made the idealistic, li-based Confucianism an efficient and practical ideology of governance.
This blog post was written by the Center’s interns, Elias Jakala and Johanna Fähnrich.
On Tuesday 20 April 2021, Professor Jason Chuah from the City University of London gave a guest lecture on the topic of ‘An Inquiry into the Continuing Development of Maritime Law in the PRC’ at the Finnish China Law Center. The lecture was chaired and commented on by Ellen J. Eftestøl, Professor of Civil and Commercial Law at the University of Helsinki.
Professor Chuah opened the lecture by giving an overview of the current status of maritime law and jurisprudence in the PRC. Since the jurisdiction of maritime courts was enlarged in 2016, there has been a generally high number of maritime court cases: over 95.000 between 2015 and 2017. More than 6.000 of these cases are foreign-related, meaning that in a lot of them, the parties choose an applicable law that is more advantageous to them than the Chinese. While the PRC courts generally respect the parties’ choice of applicable law, some courts use Chinese law to fill in legal gaps, which is conflicting with international principles. However, the Supreme People’s Court has issued a new guideline in 2020 that strongly advises courts not to fill in gaps with PRC law when dealing with pandemic-related cases. Furthermore, it is sometimes unclear how many countries are involved in one single contract. If the chosen law has no sufficient connection to the case, PRC courts may argue that the clause is unenforceable, unless it is explicitly exclusive. While in EU countries, the exclusivity of such clauses is presumed, that is not the case in the PRC, which sometimes leads to disputes between the parties and the Chinese courts.
Professor Chuah continued with a short comparison of the judicial systems in the PRC and the UK. Whereas in the UK, the guiding precedent doctrine binds judges to follow court decisions made by higher courts, the PRC has no such common law system. However, in 2020, China has issued new guidance that advises courts to apply principles and rules uniformly and follow previous court decisions to prevent conflicting decisions within the PRC. In 2000, the legislation law came into force, which is intended to help drive the modernization of PRC laws forward. It states that laws shall be made in compliance with the basic principles laid down in the constitution, and encourages a policy of „opening to the outside world“, which clearly shows China’s efforts to connect and align its judiciary with other countries.
Professor Chuah closed with a case study on the „bill of lading“, which is a document issued by a carrier of goods and that is the basis for ensuring that exporters receive payment and importers receive the merchandise. Usually, the bill, after it was given to the exporter, gets transferred to the buyer, who is often located in a foreign country. This procedure raises two main problems. The first one is the question of the „original“ document. In line with many other technological advances in the PRC, the bill of lading is nowadays often an electronic document instead of a paper. However, the Chinese maritime law is still very paper-oriented and does not adjust fast enough to these new devices. Professor Chuah emphasized the need to revise the PRC maritime law, starting with redefining the term of originality. The second challenge with the bill of lading is the right to sue. It is common practice internationally that with the transfer of the bill, one gives up their right to sue the carrier. However, some PRC courts have decided the opposite way. Professor Chuah explains this with the fact that the persons transferring the bill of lading are mostly exporters. China as an exporting country wants to protect its exporters and local businesses and therefore interprets the bill transfer differently in order to preserve the exporters’ right to sue. In conclusion, it is noticeable that the PRC has made enormous progress in terms of aligning its jurisprudence with international standards, even though it is not a party of the international conventions on maritime law. However, the PRC courts sometimes interpret international rules differently, which is mostly due to the different political and legal history as well as the fact that Chinese private rules are often hard to combine with international methods. It will be interesting to see if China will sign up to the Rotterdam rules and what impact that would have, since the rules are intended to be much more recognizing of technological advances and current shipping practices.
This blog post was written the Center’s intern, Johanna Fähnrich.
The Centre would like to inform its readers of the establishment of the new Nordic Network on Chinese Thought (NNCT) based at the University of Lapland. The NNCT is founded by Professor Matti Nojonen (University of Lapland), Dr. Jyrki Kallio (Finnish Institute of International Affairs) and Professor emeritus Torbjörn Lodén (University of Stockholm). The idea is to create an open and transparent platform that connects Nordic researchers on Chinese thought on a more regular basis than just once a year.
The network’s objective is to open discussion and dialogue on philosophical questions relating to China, as well as for sharing research ideas, papers, and manuscripts. It aims at bringing together not only senior scholars but also young researchers and students in the Nordic region who study or work on classical and modern Chinese philosophy and Chinese thought. The NNCT will also advance collaboration with prominent Chinese philosophers.
The activities of the NNCT include seminars, workshops, study events, and lectures in the field of Chinese thought on topics such as the role of concepts in traditional Chinese philosophy and thought. Through the network, scholars and students shall have the opportunity to expand their network and learn different approaches to Chinese thought from other members.
In this and next autumns, two new 5-credit courses on Chinese thoughts will be organized by the University of Lapland. They will deal with classical Chinese language and textual reading on classical Chinese philosophy. The courses, one offered in Finnish and the other in English, will provide students with knowledge and insight into different fields of Chinese philosophy. Students in the courses are welcome to attend events of the NNCT.
The inaugural seminar of NNCT will be organized on the 20thof April, at 10 AM to 12 Noon (UTC + 3).
This is Part II of the interview with Michael Ristaniemi. In Part I we discussed his background and motivation for the dissertation. In this part we will dive deeper into the actual contents of the dissertation and Michael’s reflection on recent developments in antitrust globally with some comparative thoughts.
Did anything surprise you as you worked on the thesis?
To be frank a lot of stuff surprised me and its more of a question what to emphasize. The first clear thing that was interesting to realize is that many things are so interrelated. When you are doing research as a student for your Master’s thesis and then for your PhD you are focusing on a very narrow niche. One major aha-moment for myself was realizing how this niche is really linked to many other areas and how they inter-develop. For instance, one article in my dissertation covered the fact that whatever the major economic powers of the globe think about cooperating really shapes how international competition can develop in practice. For example, the preference of how the US to cooperate bilaterally or multilaterally affects many things globally, including what I covered in my dissertation.
Currently there is a lack of a strong political will to cooperate multilaterally. In some extent China isn’t representative of that. They have their own multilateral agreements that are outside the ones that we are used to seeing in Western countries. But the trend that is seen generally across international law to patch the lack of political cooperation is the rise of so-called trans-governmental networks. They are not on the political level but rather authorities of different countries cooperating very closely. It has led to technocratic international governance as opposed to political level international law in a way. This in fact has a really strong impact, both positive and negative.
A second memorable point I want to mention is the ignorance of history in competition law. I think most people aren’t aware of the origin of competition law in the EU or the US. Nowadays it has been more about using modern-day economic theory to improve consistency of competition law application. This is important, but there is perhaps something to learn in how competition law started independently in both places (EU and US). Competition law is a response to the allergy towards too much economic and political dominance by companies and was a way to manage that dominance. It is something we are seeing a need for with the digital economy. A lot of the discussions that are being had today in competition law circles wouldn’t be all that different if we go back to the 1950s or even 30s.
We found the point you made in your thesis:” The EU has taken a much more interventionist approach than the American, or Chinese agencies have towards unilateral conduct of key digital platform firms, such as Amazon, Google, and WeChat” extremely interesting. Could you talk a bit more about China’s position?
The general trend when I was writing my dissertation was that the EU was sort of the outlier by being interventionist to the extent it has been. Since I have finished my dissertation the US has brought two big lawsuits against both FB and Google, and China has published a draft revision to its anti-monopoly law (the Chinese competition law) and also drafted guidelines concerning the platform economy. Therefore, the tide is changing. I have to say I am not a huge expert on the application of Chinese competition law, but what I can say is that competition law is very new in China. The first competition law was enacted in only 2008. What they have been doing is mostly capacity building since then.
And regarding the huge fines that digital companies have faced in Europe, that is more of an exception than a rule. I can’t say what the reason is for the lenient treatment in China of giant digital companies. Nevertheless, what is clear is that the treatment has indeed been lenient compared to Europe. In the US, the treatment has been lenient because of a differing interpretation of relevant economics, which emphasizes size as a source of efficiency gains that consumers benefit from. The role of personal data is key in digital services.
That’s where you can tie in China. We know that the privacy discussion differs in China. The concept of privacy is different in the Chinese context and that the discussion around human rights, in general, is very different in China compared to the EU or the US. The differing treatment between the Chinese and Europeans may partially be a result of a different appreciation of the concept of personal data privacy, that’s at least a part of it. As I mentioned, in China there are interesting developments now underway during this year. There is going to be something more specific but currently, they are still at the draft guidelines stage for the platform economy and also a draft revision to their relevant competition law, as I mentioned earlier. These changes to the anti-monopoly law would enable their authorities – the SAMR – to better tackle these huge digital companies.
You mentioned visiting China University of Political Science and Law, in Beijing during your research and wrote: “I got some important insights into the Chinese perspectives relative to my research”. Could you tell us a bit more about this?
I’ll start with the bigger picture to give some context. Since my theme was international competition law I did try to visit places abroad during my one and half year study leave. I actually managed to stay most of the time of my study leave abroad. I spent one academic year at University of California, Berkeley after which I was in Brussels as a visiting researcher at Vrije Universiteit Brussel for a few months and then also, as you mentioned, in Beijing at the China-EU Law School.
Beijing was great actually, it was by chance that I noticed the scholarship that was circulated through our law school’s researcher email list. The China-EU Law School is a very interesting institution. It is partially funded by the EU and it’s within the larger university that is only dedicated to political science and law. I understood it is highly regarded in China and it was a great experience to be part of it.
First of all, just the fact that they had an amazing legal library was great. Although there isn’t that much at the end of the day about Chinese competition law in English, mostly probably because of competition law is relatively new as mentioned earlier. I also enjoyed really good discussions with scholars and law students about their idea of economic law and policy. A highlight was when I got to discuss with, Hao Qian, one of the university’s associate professors who was actually involved in creating the anti-monopoly law in China. She told me about the cooperation that the Chinese had with Americans and Europeans when creating the anti-monopoly legislation. If I recall correctly the law resembles EU competition law on paper more than the US counterpart since Europeans were more willing to assist and provide technical assistance in the preparation phase than the Americans. Of course, how it is enforced and applied varies always country by country. But a very interesting discussions all in as a part of the visit.
What are you planning on now after the doctoral degree?
Well I work as VP, Sustainability at Metsä Group and I am continuing with that for the time being. It is a great platform to learn about management and sustainability. I’m also writing and researching related topics in a couple ongoing projects, and I am a collaborator in a project that just received funding from the Academy of Finland on crisis preparedness and the security of supply. To put it all in one sentence: right now the focus is economic law and policy, businesses as societal actors and the practical and academic opportunities there may be relating to these topics. But otherwise, we will see, who knows.
The interview and report were done by the Center’s intern, Mr. Jakub Pichna. Jakub is a Master’s student at the University of Helsinki’s International Business Law program with a BSc. in Economics and Business Administration from the University of Turku.
Michael Ristaniemi, currently the VP, Sustainability at Metsä Group, has defended his dissertation titled International Antitrust: Toward upgrading coordination and enforcement on 31 October 2020. Professor Petri Kuoppamäki, a Board member of the Finnish China Law Center was one of the examiners and public opponents. Michael’s dissertation has a very interesting chapter on international antitrust on how the three economic superpowers the USA, the EU, and China approach international antitrust, and the possibility to enhance international cooperation. Therefore, the Center would like to take the opportunity to further discuss the dissertation, Michael’s stay in Beijing at the China University of Political Science and Law and his future plans. In Part I of the interview, Michael’s background and his motivation for writing about antitrust are discussed. Part II will cover the dissertation more concretely.
Could you tell us a bit about your background?
I am Finnish-American but I have lived most of my life in Finland. I was born and raised in Espoo but then moved to study law at the University of Turku. During my student years, I had a bit of an international mix: I did two semesters abroad, one in California and one in Thailand, and an internship in Washington DC at the law firm Morgan Lewis (previously known as Bingham McCutchen). I focused my studies on business law and since graduating in 2011 I’ve worked in the private sector primarily as an in-house counsel in international Finnish companies. In 2012, quite shortly after I graduated I started a PhD project on the side, and then I took a year and a half study leave to focus on the dissertation which was a great period in between professional working life.
All in all, I would say my legal background is heavily impacted by having worked only in the private sector with commercial law and business law questions.
Could you tell us about your doctoral research? What is your motivation behind pursuing the topic?
Besides focusing on business, I have always been interested in societal questions which is an interesting reason to study law in general: you get to study the rules of society and how everything works. From that perspective competition law is great for understanding society because it is essentially the rules of our market economy and the framework within which businesses function.
I started my deep dive into competition law early in my law school career. I wrote my bachelor’s and master’s theses in the realm of competition law so my dissertation was sort of a continuum.
I wrote my Master’s thesis on airline alliances in light of competition law. I found the topic peculiar in its nature; it is a very political sector when you think about it. The airline industry has rules that prevent merging. Without these political rules, there would be a lot fewer airlines in this world. Because airlines can’t merge they cooperate more closely than typical competitors in a more rules-free industry. For instance, airlines agree on pricing on a certain route.
With my dissertation, when mirroring it with what I had learned from my master’s thesis, I felt that this interplay of politics and competition law was a weird situation and it would be interesting to dive deeper into it through more general research. That’s basically how the topic was born. It also got a bit more energy through the work I was doing at Cargotec and then at Metsä Group, which are both international businesses, operating globally in global markets. Through my work, I came to contact with global markets. I could really see the current situation up close: you have many competition laws all around the world and authorities that don’t really cooperate that well. All this happens within a framework of rules that aren’t that consistent in how they are enforced. This creates a burden on businesses and is generally ineffective. I believe my work has a practical impact and is not only an academic consideration.
The interview and report were done by the Center’s intern, Mr. Jakub Pichna. Jakub is a Master’s student at the University of Helsinki’s International Business Law program with a BSc. in Economics and Business Administration from the University of Turku.
On 17 November 2020, Professor Kimmo Nuotio, Board Member of the China Law Center joined the 2020 Fall Semester Online PKU Law School Distinguished Global Faculty lecture series. The lecture series aims to further the internationalization of PKU Law School and foster global awareness among law students beyond the confinement of national boundaries.
Professor Nuotio contributed to the series with a presentation on “Criminal Law as Transnational Law”.
If international criminal law is a concept already relatively well-known, the concept of transnational criminal law is still a relatively new one. Neil Boister has proposed an understanding that whereas international criminal law proper is based on values and principles, the transnational criminal law only is about state’s collaborating in addressing issues of cross-border criminality. Accordingly, transnational criminal law deals with international illegal market, where criminal activities often are organised and run for profit. Transnational criminal law deals with a rather scattered set of topics, and the aim is to strengthen the enforcement of the agreed norms by means of international treaties. In his talk, Professor Nuotio presented this scene and discussed the problems in the creation of transnational criminal law, as the most powerful states have had a biggest say in the drafting of such treaties. As a result, transnational criminal law of today has some problematic features, which should be addressed: it should be enlightened. He also talked about how we could relate an enlightened version of transnational criminal law with law and development studies. Finally, he examined if and how transnational criminal law could be transformed and become a genuine global criminal law.
Professor Genlin Liang and Professor Su Jiang from PKU Law School acted as commenters for Professor Nuotio’s lecture. The lecture received positive feedback from PKU Law students who found his topic very interesting, especially regarding transnational criminal law.
The China Law Week 2020 closed with a session on “Reform and Emerging issues in Chinese Private Law and the Court System”. It was chaired by Jukka Mähönen, Professor of Cooperative Law at the University of Helsinki and Professor of Law at the University of Oslo.
In the first presentation, Professor Jin Haijun from Renmin University gave a brief insight into the Chinese newly made civil law codification. The new Chinese Civil Code was adopted in May 2020 and will be effective from the beginning of next year. Even though the Civil Code is new, Professor Haijun emphasized that most parts of its legislation are not new. For instance, already existing corporative law was basically incorporated in the new civil code. According to Professor Haijun, intellectual property rules were a hot topic during the drafting of the code. Professor Juha Karhu from the University of Lapland commented on the presentation by mentioning for example the way that the code was built putting together different pieces.
Professor Karhu then proceeded with his presentation on the Nordic perspective on the new Chinese Civil Code. Some civil codes of the modern time were discussed, and their economic, political, and cultural background were explored to see why and how the codes were born. The presenter talked about the French Civil Code, the German “Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch”, the situation in the US, and the Chinese Civil Code 2020. Notably, the Chinese Civil Code is based on the economic rise with the opening-up policy and the socialist market economy. The Code also shows Chinese characteristics. It is inspired by various legal systems, but the systematic nature is based on the endemic questions in China.
The third presentation was given by Dr. Kangle Zhang from Peking University Law School about emerging issues in Chinese finance & business law. In Dr. Zhang’s opinion, China is moving towards financial liberalization. There is a trend of providing necessary capital and offering the customers better returns than bank deposits. The establishment of Shanghai pilot free trade zone helps ease legal burden for trading and financial purposes.
The fourth presentation was held by Dr. Wei Qian from the China University of Labour Relations, School of Labour Relations and Human Resources. The pandemic raised a number of issues where the group of disabled elderly people were particularly affected. Local governments in China were fast to enact new policy, and set disabled people, as well as children and elderly people as priority groups that will receive special attention in any big crisis. Dr. Qian talked about how disability policies in China promote the social inclusion of disabled people and how the policies changed under the current Covid-19 situation.
The last presentation of the day and the China Law Week was held by Björn Ahl, Professor and Chair of Chinese Legal Culture at the University of Cologne. He outlined the Chinese court reforms and their impact on decision making. According to Professor Ahl, there has been a contradiction in the reform dynamics between law and the political context within the judicial reform in China. This reform can be seen from a political context where there has been an enhanced dominant party state with violations of human rights. On the other hand, reform of the legal institutions has taken place where judges enjoy more autonomy in decision making to an extent that they never have been.
With 19 chairs and speakers from 7 countries and over 70 participants from 15 countries, the China Law Week 2020 had connected people with interest in Chinese law and legal culture from all over the world. Offering presentations and discussions on a broad spectrum of topics, the event had provided a valuable opportunity to learn more about the latest developments in the world of Chinese law.
The Finnish China Law Center would like to thanks the chairs, speakers, and participants conference for having made the China Law Week 2020 a resounding success. We hope to see you again in the Nordic China Law Week 2021!
The Center would like to thank our interns, Elias Jakala, Anwar Al-Hamidi, Anqi Xiang, Annette Rapo, and Johanna Fähnrich for contributing text for this article.
The China Law Week 2020 continued with the third session on “New Challenges for China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)”. It was chaired by Björn Ahl, who is Professor and Chair of Chinese Legal Culture at the University of Cologne and Visiting Professor at the University of Helsinki.
Julie Yu-Wen Chen, Professor of Chinese Studies and Director of the Confucius Institute at the Faculty of Arts at the University of Helsinki, gave the first presentation. Professor Chen talked about the localized approach in understanding One Belt One Road (OBOR)’s impacts. Her presentation covered two parts: the problems of China-centric approaches when studying the BRI’s actual impacts and the theoretical framework. Professor Chen uses the strategic action field (SAF) for her BRI research, which she defined as a “socially constructed arena” where actors constantly pull and haul their interests on a particular space and issue due to their contentious or unclear nature.
The session continued with a presentation by Professor Ronald C. Brown. Professor Brown centered his presentation on China’s BRI in Central Eastern European Countries, through the concept of 17+1. The main issue here is whether the 17+1 concept helps China to connect with the EU or whether it divides it or could lead to a pathway to EU-China “pre-trade agreement”. BRI gains connectivity to China and maximizes economic growth opportunities but the questions of who is more important (EU or China) for 17+1 countries and who to give loyalty to if there is a conflict linger.
Professor Jin Haijun from Renmin University held the next presentation with the title “An Overview of Intellectual Property Protection and Cooperation under the BRI”. He emphasized that China has launched several initiatives such as the Digital Economy International Cooperation Initiative and the Joint Statement on Pragmatic Cooperation in the Field of Intellectual Property for the BRI countries. China has further opted to include IP provisions in the Civil Code. It also has specialized IP courts and tribunals. China has also placed special attention on constant reforms for IP action, protection and cooperation among BRI countries, and patent court system reforms.
Associate Professor Yifeng Chen from the Peking University Law School followed with a presentation about transnational labour protection and the BRI. He highlighted the labour dimension of the BRI and introduced different approaches to incorporate labour into the BRI. They are: using the ILO conventions and encouraging ratification, promoting ILO fundamental labour rights protection, incorporating labour into international economic arrangement, and encouraging corporate social responsibility.
In the fifth presentation, Professor Matti Nojonen from the University of Lapland discussed China’s Arctic Policy and the “Polar Silk Road” Initiative. A few years ago, China introduced the “Polar Silk Road” Initiative. China has been involved in Arctic affairs and the Nordic economy for decades, which makes it easy for most states to adjust to the new project. Of course, there are still a lot of challenges to face. The project must be adjusted to local circumstances such as the existing national law and all involved countries and companies have to reach agreements on specific strategies.
The session closed with a panel discussion under the motto “What are the emerging challenges of the BRI?”
The Center would like to thank our interns, Sukhman Gill, Elias Jakala, Li Yuan, Anwar Al-Hamidi, Anqi Xiang, Annette Rapo, and Johanna Fähnrich for contributing text for this article.
The second session of the China Law Week 2020 was held under the theme “Chinese Labour Law in International and Comparative Perspectives”. The Chair of the session was Professor Ninon Colneric, former Judge at the Court of Justice of the European Communities and Co-Dean at the China-EU School of Law at the China University of Political Science and Law.
Sean Cooney, Professor of Law at Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne held the first presentation on labour and employment law challenges of digital platform-based employment. These platforms provide flexibility and opportunities for the workers and convenience for the consumers. However, empirical studies show that this new method of organizing labour is not without problem. The main questions addressed during the presentation are: should the workers be treated as employees, what collective bargaining should be allowed, how do the workers access social protection systems, and what methods are used for dispute resolution.
The second presentation by Ulla Liukkunen, Professor of Labour Law and Private International Law at the University of Helsinki and Director of the Finnish China Law Center was entitled “International Employment Contracts in China – the Influence of Labour Law and Private International Law (PIL) Trends”. The presentation discussed Chinese PIL and cross-border labour questions about international employment contracts. She noted that in China, PIL is still a young field of law with a late policy start. The development of Chinese PIL requires broader attention as labour rights need safeguards in a cross-border setting that substantive law alone cannot afford.
The third presentation “Labor Disputes of Chinese Posted Workers in the B&R Countries” was held by Yan Dong, Vice-Dean and Associate Professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University School of Law . He presented his research about Chinese workers posted in B&R countries. The number of Chinese posted workers increased gradually. However, the current literature gap exists. Data about workers’ labor issues in the B&R countries is incomplete. There are insufficient legal rules about applying Chinese labour laws under the doctrine of overriding mandatory rules. The research design is to collect all the cases by investigating the labor dispute in the B&R countries. The aims of Professor Dong’s study are to uncover the labor issues and test the doctrine of overriding mandatory labor rules in action.
The fourth presentation was given by Ronald C. Brown, Professor of Law at the University of Hawai’i Law School . In his presentation, he discussed how the Covid-pandemic has affected labour law in China and the US. When looking at reported cases and deaths, China has survived the pandemic more successfully. The presentation looked at reasons in labour law changes that contributed to this feat. On a high level, the approaches were very similar: funding packages, lockdowns, and mask recommendations, but the results were different. The presentation showed comparatively how high level policies were implemented and how the different cultures reacted to the response on a micro level.
The session closed with a presentation by Yan Tian, Assistant Professor and Assistant Dean at Peking University Law School. His speech was about the images of workers on China’s law of bankruptcy. Professor Tian first compared the old and new laws of bankruptcy to observe the changes in the images of workers. Secondly, he compared the laws of bankruptcy and the Chinese constitution. Finally, Professor Tian compared the past and future of the laws of bankruptcy.
The Center would like to thank our interns, Jakub Pincha, Zhe Zhao, Li Yuan, and Johanna Fähnrich for contributing text for this article.
The China Law Week 2020 kicked off with the first session entitled “Chinese Law and Legal Culture – a Diversity of Approaches”. The session was chaired by Professor Pia Letto-Vanamo, Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki.
The session began with a presentation titled “Taking account of History When Researching Contemporary Law” by Professor Letto-Vanamo. She emphasized the importance of history when researching comparative differences. In Professor Letto-Vanamo´s opinion, knowledge of contemporary politics alone is not sufficient to understand the reasons for comparative differences. She found that the only way to understand Chinese Law is to understand its history, not just legal history but for instance philosophical history and general Chinese mentality as well.
In the second presentation of the session, Professor Björn Ahl from the University of Cologne discussed the different approaches to Chinese legal culture. He first explained the Chinese legal culture, observing that Chinese legal culture as a residual concept lacks explanatory value, invites essentialized approaches to Chinese culture, and more prone to legal orientalism. Professor Ahl then introduced the Chinese legal culture in law-related Chinese studies at the University of Cologne, pointing out that learning Chinese law needs to start from an external and comparative perspective.
The third presentation on “Dispute Resolution in China: A Language Perspective” was given by Associate Professor Joanna Grzybek from Jagiellonian University in Kraków, who is also Deputy Head of the Polish Centre for Law and Economy of China. Professor Grzybek started by giving the overall legal status regarding dispute resolution in China. She stated that due consideration should be given to how language affects international communication and our frames of mind. She stressed that not only legal, but also historical and sociological angles are needed in legal linguistics research.
Professor Johanna Niemi from the University of Turku gave the next presentation on “Law and Gender: Finnish and Chinese Perspectives”. She focused on the positioning of the researcher while doing research in another culture and especially when working with the experts from a society different from the one the researcher is custom to. She highlighted the importance of remembering that post-colonial is not just history in many countries but something that still has an impact on the work culture and relationships to other countries even today.
The session closed with the last presentation about “Criminal Law in the Context of Rule of Law: Finnish and Chinese Perspectives” by Professor Kimmo Nuotio from the University of Helsinki. Professor Nuotio talked about how differently Finland and China approach criminal law and the concept of rule of law. In Finland, criminal law has to be compliant with the constitution, meaning that the state must ensure the protection of every individuals’ rights as well as the division of powers and an independent judiciary. In China, however, criminal law has a long tradition of enforcing justice with harsh methods and not guaranteeing fundamental rights or independence of the judiciary.
The Center would like to thank our interns, Elias Jakala, Li Yuan, Anwar Al-Hamidi, Sukhman Gill and Johanna Fähnrich for contributing text for this article.
The article discusses how recent developments in Chinese private international law affect international commercial arbitration. In global terms, the organization of cross-border dispute resolution is changing as a part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) development. With the BRI, Chinese interest in international commercial arbitration has gained a new dimension as BRI promotes the expansion of Chinese dispute resolution institutions and their international competitiveness. These developments challenge the current narrative of international arbitration.
The article states that private international law is explored as a framework for discussion of noteworthy characteristics of the Chinese legal system and legal culture that are present in international commercial arbitration. Comparative methodology is proposed to be rethought so that it can promote an understanding of Chinese law in the arbitration process. The article argues for adopting comparison as a methodological approach in arbitration. Comparison as a process penetrates the decision-making of arbitrators, also governing the conflict-of-law dimension. Moreover, the article argues that considerations of the Chinese private international law and arbitration regime speak for a broader comparative research perspective towards international commercial arbitration.
The article as well as the whole journal are available on the website of IACL.
This blog post was written by one of the Center’s interns, Johanna Fähnrich. Johanna is an exchange student from Germany. She will be studying law at the University of Helsinki until next summer and recently joined the team of the China Law Center because she is interested in learning about different legal systems and comparing them to each other.
Kangle Zhang is a doctoral candidate in the discipline of international law, and a research fellow at Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights, University of Helsinki. His doctoral dissertation entitled ‘Not Equal: Towards an International Law of Finance’ focuses on income and wealth inequality that is linked to operations in the international financial market (and the potential of international law for fighting it). On 17 August 2020, he will defend his dissertation with Professor Anne Orford (Melbourne Law School) serving as opponent and Professor Martti Koskenniemi (University of Helsinki) as custos. The Finnish China Law Center took the opportunity to discuss with Kangle about his experience as a doctoral student at the University of Helsinki, and about his involvement in Chinese law-related activities at the University of Helsinki and the Finnish China Law Center.
Finnish China Law Center: Could you say a little about your background?
Mr. Kangle: Many thanks for asking me to do the interview. I was at first resistance toward the idea—I was not sure if any of my experience might be of interest to other, nor if this interview could go beyond the normal praise. But perhaps this would also be a point of reflection for myself, and it might serve institutional purposes.
I have been at University of Helsinki for 6 years. Before this, I did my undergraduate degree in international politics and master’s degree majoring in international law in China at Peking University. I would be so bold as to label myself an “internationalist”. Peking University is genuinely a great place for academic advancement—I developed my interest in international law there with the encouragement of my professors.
On a more personal level, I war born and raised in a small village in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in the north-west of China. I have definitely benefited from the economic growth of China, in the sense that the broader social mobility accompanying economic development enabled me to receive education at levels would be unimaginable at my parents’ generation.
Finnish China Law Center: Could you tell us about your doctoral research? What is your motivation behind pursuing the topic?
Mr. Kangle: My doctoral thesis starts by describing the link between the international financial market and economic inequality. From there, it [i] examines the law of international finance and its relation to inequality, [ii] suggests an explanation for the nonchalance of the financial system and rules therein towards enlarging inequality, and [iii] proposes the inclusion of international financial market into the purview of international law research—the nexus of an international law of finance. The dissertation suggests that an international law of finance would be a field where international lawyers actively engage with the intertwined network of actors and rules in the financial market, where they master the vocabulary and grammar of finance, dissect the distributive significance of the legal design of the financial market, and make good use of their toolbox by examining the role of state in enabling financial market operations.
My biggest motivation is to understand inequality and if possible contribute to fighting it. I grow up in rural China and the periods of my study in Beijing, plus my years in Finland (and for sometime in the US and UK), have exposed me to the reality of inequality. In Finland, the societal organization is quite different (comparing with many parts of the world) in the sense that generally, some basic social welfare measures are in place. However when comparing the living situation in Finland and in for example China, it definitely raises some questions. I tend to think that the inequalities (and related to which human suffering) are related to money and finance. And considering that the architecture of finance are, broadly speaking, legal arrangements, I deem that (international) lawyers might be offering some useful ideas in fighting inequality that is related to the financial market operations.
My second motivation lies in an observation, that a growing amount of students from “elite” universities are going to the finance industry. This trend has been witnessed (and written about) in different countries. This seems to suggest some sorts of changes in the ways economies are organized. At the same time, the financial system is essential to the economy, both in the sense that its collapse leads to a broader economic recession and that it could be offering the necessary support in times of crisis. And all these are fiercely debated in economics. In other words (and for lawyers and regulators), we do not really know how to cope with this field that is significantly important in our societies and to people. I took the doctoral project as a process of learning and understanding about finance and societal organization.
The third and perhaps more theoretical motivation lies in my interested in the public/private distinction. Debates on international economic order, domestic societal organization, development, and globalization seem to hinge on an idea of a continuum of governmental intervention into the market. In other words, oppositional categories—of government and market, public and private—are assumed, regardless of the abstractness and indeterminacy of each category. Such a distinction penetrates deeply into our daily lives, reifies legal institutions and processes, and shields exploitation and unjust distribution from contestation. I tend to think that the financial system (and more specifically money) is a fundamental domain in which this distinction functions—that finance is the linkage between different social actors and their activities. And the operations of the financial system are enabled by this very distinction.
Finnish China Law Center: How has your experience been being a doctoral student at the University of Helsinki?
Mr. Kangle: Perhaps three points are worth mentioning here. First, the Doctoral Programme at Helsinki (and perhaps the Nordic countries in general) is quite different comparing with it in many other parts of the world. Here you are in a way considered a (quasi-)faculty member. This means that you have teaching obligations and are actively involved in the broader discussions at the faculty. I have very much benefited from this process. I enjoy teaching quite a lot, and in order to teach something, I need to try and understand the subjects as much as possible. I have also had the opportunity to teach what I am researching on, which helped with my own research.
Second, writing a dissertation at the Erik Castrén Institute is fantastic. The enthusiastic doctoral students, visiting researchers and very helpful (and sometimes very critical) senior scholars make this a vibrant and thought-provoking community.
Third, the Finnish China Law Center serves as a great platform for discussion on China-related legal issues. I have actively tried to avoid writing about China in my dissertation. In fact I am quite tired of all the China related works by Chinese researchers—there is some value in it but I do not see how better academic works could be produced if it is only the Chinese working on China-issues, the Indians working on Indian-issues, the Kenyians working on Kenya-issues (for example). That said, I am most definitely interested in China-related matters, and the Finnish China Law Center brings in many scholars from various backgrounds and with often very different views. I have quite enjoyed some of the events and discussions at the Center.
Finnish China Law Center: What do you think about the research and education in Chinese law and legal culture at the University of Helsinki?
Mr. Kangle: In terms of research in law, I have seen some really interesting works by Professors Ulla Liukkunen and Yifeng Chen. I was not involved in the few Chinese law research projects thus cannot speak on these projects. I did work with Professor Kimmo Nuotio and Professor Wenhua Shan at Xi’an Jiaotong University in publishing a edited volume tiled ‘Normative Readings of the Belt and Road Initiative: Road to New Paradigms’. I appreciate the research initiatives at the University of Helsinki, and Helsinki is most definitely an important habour in research (and education) in Chinese law and legal culture internationally. Perhaps it would be beneficial furthering the link between the legal research works and the legal practices. The growing international commerce certainly calls for legal support in, for example, tax, arbitration, or even more practically shipment issues. This is perhaps not just for Finnish business but also the broader northern European business community. Some good initiatives have been taken and I am hoping to contribute in this process.
When education is concerned, our Faculty (and the University) has established connections with many Chinese universities. This offers not only a platform for scholarly communication but also (and perhaps more importantly) for student exchanges. I think these are great endeavors and will be of benefit in the long run.
Finnish China Law Center: How have you been involved in furthering Chinese law research activities and cooperation with Chinese partners at the University of Helsinki and the Finnish China Law Center?
Mr. Kangle: As mentioned, I have worked to co-edit a volume on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The volume started at an international conference on the BRI in Helsinki under the umbrella of the new New Silk Road Law Schools Alliance. I have acted as a contact person for our faculty in the Alliance. Perhaps a few more words on the Alliance: it is consisted of twenty-some law schools internationally, seeking to promote research and teaching collaborations. Through the Alliance, our faculty built and furthered connections with the National University of Singapore, the University of Hong Kong, Taiwan University, and many other universities in different parts of the world including Australia and the US. I have also participated in interesting conferences and seminars at the Center. I would also wish to add that I will be involved in the Global Governance Law master’s programme starting the next academic year, to teach a course on Chinese financial regulations. I am also very much looking forward to join and be involved in the activities at the Center now that I am almost done with my doctoral research.
Finnish China Law Center: Do you have any plan after the doctoral degree?
Mr. Kangle: If everything goes smoothly and nothing too majorly wrong happens, I will take up a two-year postdoc position at Peking University Law School. In these two years, I would like to expand my doctoral thesis and do more research relating to the potential of international law in fighting income and wealth inequality.
In today’s post, the Finnish China Law Centre will be introducing a minor programme offered at the University of Lapland, titled “China: Domestic, Global and Arctic Trajectories”. Spearheaded by Professor Matti Nojonen, the programme adopts an interdisciplinary approach when considering the relationship between domestic driving forces within China, its visions of globalisation as well as its escalating engagement in the Arctic Regions. Upon completion of the course, students will be expected to be equipped with the proficiency of meta-cognitive skills in conceptualizing the distinctive Chinese domestic realities. Through that, it is expected that students will have a better proficiency when interacting with Chinese companies and institutions in the global and regional context, particularly that of the Arctic region.
This minor programme has a scope of 25 ECTS credits, where the following six courses, each granting 5 ECTS credits upon completion are being offered.
1. Chinese Culture and History
The course offers a critical and pluralist view on the history and culture of China, which encompasses the intersectionalities underlying the continuity and discontinuity of institutions, virtues and culture on a meta-level, and how that continues to affect nation building in modern China.
2. China’s Political System and China as a Global Actor
The course discusses the recent development of China which allows its ascension from a global actor to great power through a political lens by analyzing the role of the Party and other institutions. It seeks to provide the perspective where the Arctic as a region is not immune to the ambition of China’s strategy and policies which is driven by both economic and political actors.
3. China – Business and State
This course aims to explore the issues influencing the economic development, business practices and strategic behavior of China. A critical examination of how traditional culture shapes market and business behavior is undertaken. This courses also seeks to analyse the growing Chinese economic activities and presence in the Arctic region from both state-endorsed and private involvements through investments and tourism.
4. Chinese Society – China and Media
The course provides a multidimensional analysis of the role and forms of media and how that shapes interactions in daily life. The role of “parallel” media companies is studied in relation to their connection with the Party and censorship machine in China. Furthermore, the demography of social media users is given attention in highlighting the dynamics between freedom of speech and censorship.
5. Legal Culture and Legal System in Chinese Society
The course focuses on the question of a Chinese understanding of the rule of law through a historical and theoretical lens. Furthermore, a contextual approach is taken whereby each year a particular sector of legal development in China will be studied in detail through the intersectionality of culture, institutions and politics.
6. Chinese Language
The course aims to provide students with the basic knowledge of Chinese language and related cultural issues.
The course welcomes the participation of all degree and exchange students at the University of Lapland and Open University. The courses run throughout the academic year. Therefore, students will have the flexibility of taking individual modules from the programme or participate in the entire minor programme. The flexibility of the course is also extended to students from other disciplines where there are no pre-requisites that are required for their participation in the course.
The language of instruction for all modules and materials used in the programme is in English. The studies employ a wide variety of pedagogical approaches in the forms of lectures, seminars, movies and media analyses, related literature as well as a flipped-classroom approach, encouraging engagement beyond the chalk-and-talk settings. Aware of the virtue of partnership, the university often invites guest researchers from partner universities to deliver guest lectures to complement the learning of the students.
The programme has been running for four years now and has attracted 535 students.
More information on the course can be found at the University of Lapland’s website and weboodi.
This blog post was written by the Center’s intern, Mr. Kelvin Choo Wei Cheng. Kelvin is a undergraduate student at the University of Warwick, and an exchange student at University of Helsinki for the autumn and spring terms 2019-2020.
In today’s post, the Finnish China Law Center is pleased to introduce the research project ‘The Rise of China and Normative Transformation in the Arctic Region’ led by Dr. Sanna Kopra, Academy of Finland post-doctoral researcher in the Arctic Centre at the University of Lapland, visiting scholar in Aleksanteri Institute at the University of Helsinki, and Senior Fellow at the Arctic Institute.
The research not only addresses China’s interests and activities in the Arctic, but also investigates the normative transformation those activities may support or initiate in the Arctic region. The project asks, with China’s growing role in the area, what kind of impacts it could have in the normative framework in the Arctic, what kind of norms China wants to promote or not to promote in the regional, and how the existing governance framework, particularly the Arctic Council, has addressed China’s involvement in the region. The project’s key concept is the notion of responsibility. Thus, it also examines China’s notion of responsibility in the Arctic, whether it is deferred from the one formulated by other Arctic players, especially the 8 Arctic states, and whether there is some normative discourse or differentiation between the non-Arctic states and Arctic states, etc.
Regarding research methodology, Dr. Kopra mainly uses content analysis and discourse analysis. Having a strong interest in history, she aims to combine also the historical approach to shed light on the historical evolution of the normative framework and notion of responsibility in the Arctic.
As part of the project, Dr. Kopra spent two months on a research exchange at the University of Tromsø in Norway during 2019. ‘It was a good academic exchange. It helped me develop new ideas, receive helpful feedback, and get new information and data’, she said. She plans to conduct a research visit to Iceland next spring.
The Finnish China Law Center is pleased to welcome Professor Björn Ahl who will start as the new part-time visiting professor at the University of Helsinki from October 2020.
Björn Ahl is Professor and Chair of Chinese Legal Culture at the University of Cologne. He is also President of the European China Law Studies Association (ECLS).
Professor Ahl has vast experience in China law research. His research focuses on constitutional development, in particular on judicial reforms and rights litigation, in China. Chinese administrative law and practice of public international law are a further focal point of his research. Moreover, his areas of interest include comparative law, legal transfers, and legal culture, which are related to Greater China and Chinese legal development.
Professor Ahl will collaborate with the Center in multiple areas of Chinese law such as comparative law, public law, social credit system, court practice, and Chinese interpretation of international law. The collaboration aims at advancing research in Chinese law at the European level.
Today’s blog post will feature the second part of the Center’s interview with Professor Juha Karhu about his thoughts on the civil law codification project in China.
In this part, the interview focuses on the advantages and disadvantages of civil law codification, Professor Karhu’s special interest in the rights in rem discussion, and his advice for the teaching of the Chinese civil code to non-Chinese students.
Advantages and disadvantages of codification
Professor Karhu points out that prior to the Chinese civil code, various areas of civil law were already regulated in special pieces of legislation, i.e. Contract Law, Law of Real Rights, Marriage Law, Adoption Law, Inheritance Law, etc. There is no doubt that special legislation would make it simpler to target each legal problem individually and to amend the law when the desired outcome is not reached. This advantage could be lost with the codification of civil law since the Chinese legislator may close the door to making of special legislation in areas where the civil code is applicable. It is doubtful whether every problem could be solved on the basis of the general and abstract rules that form the backbone of any civil code.
One of the challenging issues, in Professor Karhu´s opinion, would be regulating digital behaviors. How would the questions regarding new digital forms of business, digital ways of interaction, social media, and so on be properly decided on the ground of such general and abstract rules? Nevertheless, special laws do not have the same unity as a civil code, and conflicts between the provisions of individual laws are inevitable. A civil code would help to mitigate these problems. Furthermore, a civil code would have the advantage of giving more weight to political, economic, and social decisions in China as long as such decisions are in line with the civil code and can be backed up by an article of the code.
Rights in rem and the civil code discussions
Professor Karhu is especially interested in following the discussions in China on the question of ownership or, more precisely, rights in rem. Private property is protected in China, but not in the same manner as in Western countries. For instance, private ownership of land is not recognized in the draft Chinese civil code. However, under rights in rem, there are rights to the land even if there is no private land ownership. This concept contains interesting Chinese characteristics. One of them flows from imperial China’s administration of land title according to which peasants and farmers could still develop certain rights on the soil of the land since skillful farmers would raise the value of the soil. The same concept did not exist in the European feudal systems.
This example also demonstrates that rights in rem are not so foreign to Chinese culture and history. Therefore, it is very important to look at how rights in rem will find their role in the development of Chinese society and economy, and what the proper level of protection and various forms of protection of private property are, particularly since these rights have defined business contexts and played an essential role in business financing as collaterals.
Teaching and the Chinese civil code
Professor Karhu has a lot of experience in teaching Chinese law. During February 2020, he taught the course ‘Chinese Civil Code 2020 – A Dream Come True?’ at the School of Law and Economy of China, Faculty of Law and Administration of the University of Warsaw. He observes that some foreign students tend to think they could learn about Chinese law simply by reading legal texts, underestimating the roles of history, culture, and politics. The truth is that no law anywhere could be taken separately from the legal culture.
Throughout his many academic visits to China, Karhu realizes that the key to teaching Chinese law is to make sure that students understand the learning tasks in such a way that these tasks involve not only reading the text of the law but understanding the legal culture as a part of Chinese culture. He also emphasizes the importance of encouraging students to be open-minded and ask questions instead of making assumptions tacitly based on their own society.
Juha Karhu, Emeritus Professor of Law, University of Lapland, Finland was Professor of Contract Law and Tort Law at the Law Faculty of the University of Lapland during 1993-2017. He was also Dean of the Law Faculty from 2013 to 2017. His research focuses on the foundations of commercial law, including themes like the role of legal principles in dynamic contractual networks, the methods of calculating damages in business relations, the legal protection of business assets in cooperation projects, and the role of fundamental and human rights in new global economy. His research is characterized by strong comparative perspectives. His international contacts include University of Munster (Germany), Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (London), University of Gothenburg (where he was part-time Visiting Professor 2012-2016), and Indian Development Foundation (New Delhi, one month in 2015). Professor Karhu was also active in building up his expertise on Chinese legal system, and relations with Chinese Law Schools (especially Renmin University of China School of Law). He is the honorary doctor of University of Gothenburg and University of Turku. He was also awarded the price of “Academic Lawyer of the Year” in 2019 by the Finnish Society of Lawyers, with special notice to his role in developing the co-operation between Finnish and Chinese universities and legal institutions.
In 2014, the civil law codification entered a new stage in China when the Central Committee of the Communist Party called for a new round of compilation in its Decisions on Major Issues Concerning Comprehensively Moving Governing the Country According to the Law Forward. The entire draft civil code shall be presented to the Congress in 2020 for the final legislative step.
In light of this development, the Finnish China Law Center had the pleasure to invite Juha Karhu, Professor (emeritus) of Contract Law and Tort Law at the Law Faculty of the University of Lapland, and the pioneer of China law research and Chinese network development in Finland, on an interview about his view on the central topics concerning civil law codification in China.
This first part of the interview discusses the motivations behind the new round of civil law codification in China, and the influence of Western law on the Chinese draft civil code.
Motivations behind civil law codification in China
According to Professor Karhu, there are three kinds of reasons behind China’s latest attempt at codification of civil law: historical reasons, political reasons and economic reasons.
Firstly, historically it is worth noticing that it takes decades to build a long-lasting civil code. In Europe, the civil codes have existed for centuries, for example, in France, the civil code has been around for over 200 years and in Germany over 100 years. Since the 1950s, there have been many attempts to draft a civil code for the People’s Republic of China, and the current round was finally taken up by the Communist Party leadership in 2014. Thus, the codification is not a novel idea but it has become a gradual process in recent Chinese history. While the previous plans were not successful, they have in effect written the key parts of the civil law legislation.
Secondly, for some, it came as a surprise that China was able to build a civil code, but Professor Karhu, having had a particular interest in various parts of Chinese civil law, could see that even during the drafting process of Contract Law, the Law of Rights in rem, and the Tort Liability Law, it was taken into consideration that the pieces of legislation would, later on, form a part of a wider civil code. Therefore, the development towards a Chinese civil code has not happened by chance, but through purposeful planning. The code strengthens the legal background of Chinese economic activities.
Lastly, from a political point of view, it has been over 40 years since China’s Reform and Opening Up in 1978. The 2014 decision of compiling a new civil code by the Chinese Communist Party reflects the idea that it was now the time to signalize economic actors both inside and outside the country that the Chinese economy has established itself so far and so strongly that writing this kind of civil code is possible. The code is of course not only for economic actors but for all Chinese people. However, Professor Karhu emphasizes that one of the main emphases has been to enable businesses and market transactions.
Influence of Western law on the Chinese draft civil code
Commenting on the influence of Western law, Professor Karhu first points out that many Western scholars, while quite knowledgeable about the Chinese legal system, tend to assume that China has adopted entire civil law models from their home countries whenever they find some similar conceptual structures, principles, and rules in the draft code. He does not believe that this is a good way to comprehend the Chinese civil code. It is obvious that to be part of the global economy, China has borrowed certain standards that come from other countries. Nevertheless, as the Chinese civil code is first and foremost a code for the people of the PRC, the Chinese characteristics are conspicuous. For example, the Chinese draft civil code employs a three-year standard duration of limitation of actions, instead of the present two years. The reasons for this change are following. Since it has been only a little more than 40 years after the Opening Up period, the Chinese people have not been fully accustomed to the regulations and legal norms, as well as all legal procedures to have their interests heard, which is why a two-year period would be insufficient. Meanwhile, two years would not be too short for Europeans who have been living for centuries under their civil rules.
Juha Karhu, Emeritus Professor of Law, University of Lapland, Finland was Professor of Contract Law and Tort Law at the Law Faculty of the University of Lapland during 1993-2017. He was also Dean of the Law Faculty from 2013 to 2017. His research focuses on the foundations of commercial law, including themes like the role of legal principles in dynamic contractual networks, the methods of calculating damages in business relations, the legal protection of business assets in cooperation projects, and the role of fundamental and human rights in new global economy. His research is characterized by strong comparative perspectives. His international contacts include University of Munster (Germany), Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (London), University of Gothenburg (where he was part-time Visiting Professor 2012-2016), and Indian Development Foundation (New Delhi, one month in 2015). Professor Karhu was also active in building up his expertise on Chinese legal system, and relations with Chinese Law Schools (especially Renmin University of China School of Law). He is the honorary doctor of University of Gothenburg and University of Turku. He was also awarded the price of “Academic Lawyer of the Year” in 2019 by the Finnish Society of Lawyers, with special notice to his role in developing the co-operation between Finnish and Chinese universities and legal institutions.
The Arctic Institute is an interdisciplinary and independent think tank with a mission of developing solutions for challenges in the circumpolar north by providing data, analysis, and recommendations to policymakers, researchers, and the public.
Over the past decade, China has shown an irrefutable growth of involvement in the Arctic region. In light of this development, the Arctic Institute launched the China Series which will offer a comprehensive account of China’s policies and interests in the Arctic. The China Series will consist of numerous articles and commentaries on China’s Arctic involvement from the angles of politics, economy, environment and social impact.
In January of 2018, a white paper titled “China’s Arctic Policy” was published by the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. It solidified and expressed China’s interest in the region by setting policy goals and plans for participation by the government. The policy goal is simply stated as understanding, protecting, developing and participating in the governance of the Arctic, so as to safeguard the common interests of all countries and the international community in the Arctic, and promote sustainable development of the Arctic. It also sets China up as “near-Arctic state” thus giving it rights in the region to conduct scientific research, navigate, perform flyovers, fish, lay submarine cables and pipelines, and even explore and exploit natural resources in the Arctic high seas.
At the time this blog post is written, the first four texts have been published in the China Series. They cover China’s involvement in Greenland, China’s black carbon emissions, US concerns about Chinese threats in the Arctic, and China’s Arctic identity. The first article “The tortuous path of China’s win-win strategy in Greenland” by Marco Volpe (MSc.) examines the improvement of bilateral relationships between China and the Arctic States by investing into the regions, doing joint research and taking on environmental and safety challenges. The second text “Reducing China’s Black Carbon Emissions: An Arctic Dimension” by Yulia Yamineva (PhD, senior researcher at the Centre for Climate, Energy and Environmental Law, University of Eastern Finland) takes an environmental angle and delves into China’s black carbon emissions. The text challenges China’s policy on black carbon emissions and highlights the importance of future co-operation because of the vast possible impact globally. The third text goes into the risks relating to China joining the “race to the North”. Titled “Defining the Chinese threat in the Arctic” and written by Yun Sun (Co-Director of the East Asia Program and Director of the China Program at the Stimson Center), it highlights how the Arctic is becoming a new domain of the power struggle between the United States and China. The fourth text of the series “Identity and Relationship-Building in China’s Arctic Diplomacy” by Marc Lanteigne(Associate Professor of Political Science at UiT-The Arctic University of Norway) touches on the importance of the relationships of China and other stakeholders in the Arctic and the identity China is forming as a part of its Arctic diplomacy.
According to the Arctic Institute, the articles will help facilitate cooperation with China in the region by promoting the understanding of the political, economic, and environmental dimensions of China’s Arctic engagement. Currently, China is involved in mostly an economic capacity through a multitude of projects such as infrastructure and mining operations. In contrast, the governance involvement of China has been rather limited. The underlying message of the China Series seems to be that it is the job of policymakers to harness this presence for the good of the region.
This blog post was written by one of the Center’s interns, Jakub Pichna. Jakub is a Master’s student at the University of Helsinki’s International Business Law program with a BSc. in Economics and Business Administration from the University of Turku.
The book was built on and developed from the report titled ‘China in the Arctic; and the Opportunities and Challenges for Chinese-Finnish Arctic Co-operation.’ The report was published in February 2019 as part of the project ‘Finland’s Arctic Council chairmanship in the times of increasing uncertainty’ funded by the Finnish Government’s Analysis, Assessment and Research Activities unit. It drew ample attention among the media and government officials from Finland and abroad, signaling an increased interest in China’s role in the Arctic. This has encouraged the authors to diversify and expand their approach to the theme.
The book offers an overview of China’s economic engagements in the Arctic, China’s policy regarding Arctic governance, and how it has evolved during the past years. It also discusses China’s interests and strategies in the region, and the initiatives the country has offered. It should be noted that the book is centered around economic and governance aspects, rather than the geopolitics implications of China’s involvement in the Arctic and its interaction with other players in the region.
‘Chinese policy and presence in the Arctic’ is the first comprehensive account of China’s endeavors in the Arctic region. ‘The book is unique in the sense that it does not follow the predominant alarmist approach which views China as a threat, but attempts to provide an objective analytical analysis of Chinese Arctic policy’, said Dr. Sanna Kopra. Since extensive reviews of China’s policy and presence in the Arctic are scarce, the book poses as a valuable contribution to the current collection of scholarly work on the topic and a must-read for students and scholars of China studies and Arctic affairs.
The book also offered an opportunity for the authors to focus on the environmental issues relating to China’s presence in the Arctic. The chapter ‘China, Climate Change and the Arctic Environment’ examines in great detail China’s ecological footprint in the Arctic and its role in international efforts to tackle climate change and pollution. ‘This is something that has not been discussed in this length in the existing literature’, added Dr. Sanna Kopra.
Björn Ahl is Professor and Chair of Chinese Legal Culture at the University of Cologne. He currently holds the position of President of the European China Law Studies Association. The Finnish China Law Center had the pleasure to conduct an interview with him on his personal experience and recommendations for students and young professionals in researching Chinese law.
Professor Ahl began with his law studies at the University of Heidelberg in the 1990s and spent one year at the Law School of Nanjing University as an exchange student to improve his Chinese and take classes in Chinese law. According to him, foreign students in Chinese law schools were very rare at that time. ‘It was quite an open atmosphere among students, and we had fascinating discussions about Chinese and international law issues’, he reminisced. After finishing his law studies in Germany, he worked for some time at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg, and then went back to Nanjing University to become the Associate Director of the Sino German Institute of Legal Studies. The interactions with Chinese colleagues and students during these times and being able to witness Chinese law’s rapid development had profoundly shaped his interests at this early stage of his career.
The focuses of Professor Ahl’s research include Chinese public law, comparative law and Chinese positions on public international law, and his main interests have always been comparative law and public international law. In his doctoral dissertation, he studied the application of international treaties in China. Since then, Chinese scholarship of public international law and Chinese state practice of public international law have become more and more relevant and complex topics.
During his teaching and research in Cologne, Professor Ahl has contextualized Chinese law by applying a concept of legal culture in order to tackle the challenges of studying Chinese law from an external and comparative perspective. He observed that while the context of law is regularly omitted in doctrinal legal research that takes an internal, participant-oriented approach to its object of study, external factors are more relevant for the understanding of foreign law if the people who study such law do not share the same preconceptions and preconceived attitudes as those who create and apply the law. Therefore, an approach to the research of Chinese law that is specifically sensitive to the historical, political, economic and institutional conditions of the creation, application and enforcement of law appears most suitable to avoid misconceptions and misrepresentations about the meaning and operation of Chinese law.
When being asked about the methodologies for conducting research in the field of Chinese law from the perspective of a foreign researcher, he pointed out that the answer to this question depends on the research question that the researcher wishes to pursue. However, if one likes to investigate a doctrinal question, he suggested that the researcher should not entirely omit context factors, in particular, if he or she takes a comparative approach. Otherwise, the researcher may end up with false or misleading results. He contended that this applies to the study of any foreign jurisdiction and does not pertain exclusively to Chinese law.
The interview concluded with Professor Ahl’s advice for students and young professionals wanting to go into researching Chinese law. He remarked that the fundamental basis of any meaningful research in Chinese law is a good proficiency in Chinese language. The next asset would excellent training in Chinese law. He recommended enrolling in a Chinese law school through an exchange programme as the most practical way to have the first exposure to Chinese law. He additionally noted that it would be very useful to get an insight into how law works in practice, which can be done through an internship in a Chinese law firm.
The Centre hereby takes the chance to express our gratitude to Professor Ahl for taking the time to participate in our Featured Researchers interview series.
On Wednesday 4 March 2020, a partner of the Finnish China Law Center, the Confucius Institute at the University of Helsinki held a seminar on the topic of ‘Belt and Road Initiative in Russia and Kazakhstan’.
Considering that 7 years have passed since the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was introduced by President Xi Jinping at Nazarbayev University in 2013 and there has been increasing awareness of this project and suspicion of its exact impact and influence, the Seminar aimed to provide up-to-date views and perspectives of two experts from Russia and Kazakhstan regarding the BRI.
The Seminar began with a presentation on ‘The Belt and Road Initiative: Views from Russia’ from Professor Nikolay Samoylov (St. Petersburg State University). Professor Samoylov remarked that the Russian Government regards the BRI as having economic and political significance since boosting Russia and China’s relation and promoting alignment of the Eurasian Economic Union and the Silk Road Economic Belt are elements of the BRI. For Russian politicians and leaders, the future of the Eurasian Economic Union is very important, and they wish to connect it with the Chinese BRI.
He added that the BRI is becoming an increasingly crucial aspect of China and Russia’s cooperation as shown through the active negotiation and consultation process of promoting Eurasian economic integration within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union and the Silk Road Economic Belt. In 2017, the Eurasian Economic Commission drew up a list of prioritized projects to be implemented by Eurasian countries in support of the Silk Road Economic Belt project. A majority of these projects involve the construction of new roads and modernization of existing roads, establishment of transport and logistic centers, and development of key transport hubs. Russia has proposed 3 main logistic projects, including the construction of a high-speed railway between Beijing and Europe, motorway connecting China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, and Europe, and development of the Northern sea route. Professor Samoylov noted that Russia has set out the goal that over the next 6 years, it shall increase the full capacity of the Baikal – Amur Main Line and the trans-Siberian railway to 880 million tonnes per year, cut fright delivery time from far East to the Western border of Russia to 7 days, increase the volume of transit of shipments on Russian railways almost four-folds, thus turning the country into a global leader in cross Asia transit shipping. Therefore, these projects are especially significant to Russia.
Over the past 5 years, Russian international relation experts have produced a large quantity of academic and expert publications and debates designed to explain the BRI to the society and political elites. There is a firm opinion that the implementation of the BRI would inevitably strengthen China’s influence in the Central Asia region. However, some expert groups opine that the Silk Road Economic Belt is essential for changing the entire global geopolitics. They are convinced that Russia should retain the role of a regional leader in Central Asia and that integration with the Silk Road Economic Belt is not an obstacle, but a facilitating factor. Others view Beijing’s actions not as an opportunity but a threat to Russian national defense. In between these two extreme trends, another group tries to explain Beijing’s actions through their own interpretation of social-economic goals in China. They contend that China’s priority is to solve China’s social-economic task which is not possible without an active foreign policy. This task focuses on 3 areas: creating new transport and logistic infrastructure to link Europe and Asia via Russia, directing Chinese investment in the high-tech industry and engaging China through investment, loan, and technology, implementation of projects that use new instruments for the development of Russian Far East and northern sea route.
The Seminar continued with a second presentation titled ‘How is BRI Playing in Kazakhstan? Findings from a Survey’ by Professor Chris Primiano (KIMEP University) which focused on Kazakhstan and particularly how students at KIMEP University view the BRI. Professor Primiano explained that university students in Kazakhstan represent the future elites and so it is important to get engaged with students at KIMEP, one of the leading universities in Kazakhstan to understand how they view the Chinese BRI.
Professor Primiano observed that there is tremendous discontent in Kazakhstan directed at China for two main reasons being Chinese FDI and the situation in Xinjiang with the vocational camps. The Chinese FDI comes with Chinese workers in contrast to western FDI. In order to accept one of these infrastructure projects the host government also accepts Chinese workers. The perception of jobs being taken away from locals in Kazakhstan and that the Chinese workers are benefiting more than Kazakhstani nationals create a good amount of push-back. The actions of China in Xinjiang also add to the disapproval from certain segments of Kazakhstan since there have been many ethnic Kazakhs or Kazakhstani nationals who have been in these vocational camps.
The survey by Professor Primiano and his colleagues aims at finding out whether participants view the BRI as a win-win/mutually beneficial situation, or as China benefiting itself at the expense of Kazakhstan. The survey questions were related to demographic variables (age, gender, income, rural or urban, etc) and attitudinal variables impacting one’s views on the BRI i.e. What are their views on democracy? and Do they equate democracy with economic development than with political rights?
Some general trends can be inferred from the survey. Those whose parents earn higher incomes viewed China more favorably. Those whose parents have higher education view China in a more positive way. The students who equate democracy with economic development would view China more positively and those who equate democracy with social or political rights concept will have a negative take on China. The people spending more time reading and watching TV news tended to have a more unfavorable view of China.
Professor Primiano explained that the survey employed both open-ended and closed-ended questions, for example: What do you associate with China? Why is China involved in Central Asia with infrastructure and development projects? And does the BRI create a win-win for Kazakhstan? etc. Regarding the first question, 206 of the respondents had positive views about China’s BRI, associating it with advancing globalization, trade and mutual benefits. 27% wrote that BRI was about neo-colonialism with China benefiting at the expense of other countries. Some respondents said they ‘never heard of this’ or ‘do not know anything about the BRI.’ On the second question, less than 3% of the participants replied that the BRI was not mainstream in Central Asia. The majority said that China’s purpose was its own interests only. 30% opined that it was to advance the interests of China and other countries in Central Asia. The remaining 11% answered with ‘don’t know’ or ‘not sure.’ Relating to the third question, 60% felt that they lack proper information to comment on the matter.
To sum up about the survey, Professor Primiano remarked that a strong majority were not well aware of this initiative while surprisingly, China selected Kazakhstan as a place to announce BRI and there have been significant investments and tremendous funding from China. In the future, survey experiments will be done with treatment and control groups provided with additional information on the BRI.
The University of Helsinki, a member institution of the Finnish China Law Center, has arranged trial access to Kanopy video streaming service. Students and researchers at the University may access Kanopy through Helka-database with the username and password that has been provided by the Helsinki University Library.
Kanopy offers thousands of films, movies, documentaries and educational videos on over 80 subjects, including Asian studies. It, thus, presents a great alternative for Chinese law and legal culture enthusiasts during this exceptional situation where campus libraries as well as all learning facilities are closed.
Through the streaming service, students and researchers can select among a wide variety of contents which document China’s history and transformation from developing nation to the world’s next largest economy, investigation into Chinese political, economic and social systems, and understanding of Chinese traditional and contemporary culture and society.
Some key topics covered include:
China’s Industrial Development
China’s world role China in Africa, Europe, Latin America
Hailing from the UK, Professor Duncan McCargo has spent extended periods of time across South East Asia and has produced remarkable work in the fields of political science and justice especially with regards to Thailand. He currently holds the position of Director of the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, whilst continuing to teach and research as a professor of political science at the University of Copenhagen. The Finnish China Law Centre had the pleasure to welcome Professor McCargo to the University of Helsinki in October 2019 when he came to deliver a guest lecture at the Confucius Institute on recent trends in Asian politics. The Centre is privileged to conduct a more in-depth interview with him, focusing on his intellectual journey and views on researching South-East Asian politics as well as its challenges and opportunities.
Professor McCargo’s unorthodox exposure to South East Asia started during his travels to Thailand and Burma in his undergraduate years back in the 1980s. According to him, there were not many students from Europe visiting the region during that time. As a young, aspiring travel enthusiast, he was very intrigued by the people that he encountered. Idealism and curiosity led him into his quest of trying to comprehend the unfamiliar. Upon graduation, he went to teach in Japan for a couple of years but eventually concluded that Thailand appealed to him more. He then went back to Thailand and underwent intensive immersion, where he lived with a local family and studied the Thai language intensively.
Professor McCargo has contextualised the political and legal landscape of Thailand as one that is characterised by political problems where military coups, constitution changes and political crises are a common phenomenon. He has further pointed out the judicialisation phenomenon of politics in Thailand following two 2006 speeches given by the King, in which he urged judges to solve political problems. Thereafter, the centre of gravity in Thai politics shifted to judges and court cases. Through the courts, political decisions were made, where court cases are brought against politicians, eventually resulting in them being banned from office and parties being dissolved. Professor McCargo conducted a year’s ethnographic fieldwork in Bangkok, much of it spent in courtrooms. His latest book addressing these issues is Fighting for Virtue, Justice and Politics in Thailand (Cornell University Press, 2019); and related articles are on the way.
Another project Professor McCargo is working on centers around the 2019 election in Thailand and mainly deals with developments around the election and the creation of new parties. He is now writing a new book with one of his former PhD students on the rise and fall of the Future Forward Party, which was recently dissolved by the Constitutional Court.
When being asked of his views on the prospects of studying Asia, he has framed the current era as being the Pacific century, where the centre of power has shifted away from the United States and Western Europe. Professor McCargo highlights how many many global trends in contemporary politics such as populism, polarization, direct communication of authoritarian leaders to its subjects and the decline of political parties had their origins in South East Asia. This not only serves as a paradigm shift in the contextualisation of Asia as a peripheral area of the world, but it illustrates how Asian countries can be studied from a comparative perspective alongside their Western counterparts.
Professor McCargo does not find the idea of a distinction between ‘East’ and ‘West’ analytically useful, and is reluctant to be labelled with any particular approach. He believes all that matters is quality of academic work, which is not restricted to any specific styles or methodologies.
As a proponent of qualitative field-based work, Professor McCargo believes linguistic and cultural fluency are essential, since they allow researchers to communicate directly with their research subjects. This is seen in one his previous projects on the southern Thai insurgency : he spent a year driving around the region talking to hundreds of informants, using an approach derived from political ethnography. Despite criticisms of such approaches by many political scientists as being too time-consuming and subjective, McCargo argues that qualitative and quantitative data can and should complement each other. Cross-checking with documentary sources may be done to verify the validity of a narrative.
Commenting on the inherent sensitivity of certain research topics, Professor McCargo notes that he has often benefited from the willingness of interview informants to share important information with him as a researcher. Some Southeast Asian informants see academics as potential allies in communicating their experiences and messages to the wider world. McCargo notes that for most of his professional career Thailand has been a relatively open society where informants feel relatively free to speak out – making it an easier place to conduct fieldwork than some other Asian countries. The presence of large numbers of foreign tourists means that outsiders have become a familiar sight in Thailand, rather than a cause for concern.
On a concluding note, Professor McCargo talked about the challenges of getting social scientists to change their perception that studying Asia is a minority pursuit, when in reality the majority of the world’s population lives in the non-western world. The study of Southeast Asian politics tends to be viewed as a niche field within the discipline of comparative politics, yet this work actually has a much broader intellectual reach as Asia becomes increasingly salient both politically and economically.
The Centre hereby takes the chance to express our gratitude for his time and his interview and looks forward to working with him soon in future projects.
The interview and report were done by the Center’s intern, Mr. Kelvin Choo Wei Cheng. Kelvin is a undergraduate student at the University of Warwick, and an exchange student at University of Helsinki for the autumn and spring terms 2019-2020.
On 18 October 2019, the three institutions co-organized an international conference on ‘Methodology of researching and teaching Chinese law.’ The conference created platform for discussion on the issues of Chinese law research and teaching through sharing of ideas, research and practice. It ended in tremendous success in terms of both participation and reception. This suggested a strong interest among Finnish, Russian and Polish scholars and specialists in China law education and research, and strong potential for Chinese law-related inter-institutional cooperation.
The year 2020 promises further collaboration between the three institutions in the form of seminars, workshops, and dialogues. For starter, researchers from Saint Petersburg State University, and the Polish Research Centre for Law and Economy of China will join and contribute their expertise in the Nordic China Law Week 2020 during 20 to 23 April at the University of Helsinki.
The Center welcomes students, researchers, practitioners, and the wider public from all over the world to take part in an exciting week packed with presentations and discussions surrounding the current hot topics in Chinese law and legal culture.
‘The Center would like to take this opportunity to expand our impact in fostering education and research on Chinese law, and strengthen our contacts and partnerships with other institutions that conduct Chinese law research and education within and beyond the Nordic,’ says Director Ulla Liukkunen.
The Finnish China Law Center is happy to welcome the new coordinator Le Bao Ngoc Pham who has replaced Jani Mustonen from November 2019.
Pham is a native of Vietnam, and a recent graduate from the Master’s program in International and Comparative Law at the University of Helsinki. She intends to use her education and unique cultural insights about East Asia to foster the activities of the Center.
She has worked as research assistant at the Center since March 2019 before transitioning into her hew role as coordinator. She wrote her master thesis on territorial acquisition disputes and also has keen interest in space law. Previously, Pham has obtained a bachelor’s degree in law from the Hanoi Law University in Vietnam.
‘I am privileged to be a part of the Center which present a unique opportunity to use my background in international law to help develop the research into Chinese law and Chinese legal culture in the Nordic region,’ she says. She also emphasizes the important role of the Finnish China Law Center in bridging the differences in legal cultures and promoting Sino-Finnish bilateral exchange.
Pham primarily works with the Director of the Center Professor Ulla Liukkunen, and the Dean of the University of Helsinki Faculty of Law Professor Pia Letto-Vanamo, to support the Center’s member institutions and enhance mutual understanding between the Finnish and Chinese legal systems.
To mark the long history of extensive collaboration, Peking University Law School and the Finnish China Law Center hosted an afternoon seminar on Labour and Social Law.
The seminar has held on Friday 13 December 2019 at the University of Helsinki.
The Seminar opened with a presentation by Yan Tian, Assistant Professor & Assistant Dean at Peking University Law School on the topic ‘Towards a Constitutional Theory of Chinese Labor Law’. Professor Yan first described three constitutional visions of labour as arm, spine and embryo of the Constitution. Among the three, the vision of labour as the spine of the Constitution, which makes the Constitution paralyzed if lost is most popularly perceived among Chinese academics. He noted that labor is an important means to achieve the five major values of the Constitution, which comprise of livelihood, democracy, equality, honor and efficiency. Professor Yan went on to examine the constitutional commitment of China’s 1995 Labour Law. The Law has incorporated all the five values of constitutional labor in Chapter 1, particularly in Articles 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, and 8. However, he observed that the commitments have not been perfectly implemented in practice. For livelihood, there has been unfair distribution for labor. In the distribution system in China, the Government and businesses take a very big share. There is only a small part left for the workers. For democracy, it has been a hollow hope for most Chinese workers. The union system is bureaucratic and fails to represent the real interests of the workers. Regarding equality, in recent years, gender discrimination has been striking back. People now begin to challenge whether it is necessary to have so many women in workplaces. Relating to honor, labour is presumed by many as providing less earning and therefore, less respectable. Finally, about efficiency, debates over the inflexibility of labour law has arised in recent years. It is arguable that the labour law system is too rigid to able to accommodate the changing reality of Chinese workplace, especially in informal labour. In his final remark, Professor Yan suggested that labour law must not only keep up with the general trend of labor relations reform, but also be able to incorporate constitutional orders into the reform process, while serving as the legal platform to intergenerational synthesis.
In the next part of the Seminar, Jari Murto, Assistant Professor in Labour and Social Law at the University of Helsinki gave a presentation on ‘The Basic Income Experiment in the context of Finish Social Security System’. Professor Murto began with a short overview of the Finish social security system. The system is driven by the principle of universality, according to which the system covers all persons living (permanently) in Finland, and the principle of causality which renders right to social security benefit or services based on the specific reason (unemployment, illness, childbirth or studies, etc). The Finnish social security is divided into residence-based and employment-based social security. Residence-based social security is financed by taxation and administered by the Social Insurance Institution Kela. Employment-based social security is based on employee status, and paid for by employment related payments and contributions made by employee and employer, independent insurance companies and unemployment funds and labour market social partners. He next introduced the Basic Income Experiment carried out by the Finnish Government during 2017 and 2018. The purpose of the experiment was to gather information on the effects of basic income on labour market activities, and to examine social security models in the context of changing labour market as well as societal changes. The experiment met with criticism that it only choose unemployment people as target group, and exclude persons working in part-time employment relationships. Professor Murto finally discuss different type of problems in transitions in the labour market. The issues involve how to ensure employment rate of 75 %, how to guarantee that companies are able to recruit skilled work force and lack of skilled work force does not follow problems to business, and how to minimize risks to individual person relating interruptions and transitions in the labour market.
Yan Tian is an Assistant Professor & Assistant Dean at Peking University Law School. In addition to constitutional law, Assistant Professor Yan’s research interests include labour law and administrative law. He has published a monograph on employment discrimination law and several articles in the Chinese, English, and Korean languages. Previously, Professor Yan served as Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Peking University Law School. In addition to Bachelor and Master degrees from Peking University, Assistant Professor Yan has J.S.D. and LL.M. degrees from the Law School of Yale University.
JariMurto is an Assistant Professor in labour and social law at the University of Helsinki. His main research interests are related to the determination on terms of employment as well as development of labour law norms, norm system and doctrines of labour law. Professor Murto’s dissertation on “Company specific Group Norms” (2015) was a systematization of legal norms created at the company level concerning groups of employees. In the area of social law Murto’s main research interests are related to transitional labour market and legislation institutions in different type of transitions. Before University of Helsinki, he worked at the University of Turku.
Professor Liukkunen highlighted the latest developments in Chinese law research and education atUH with the introduction of Faculty of Law’s new international master’s programme called Global Governance Law (GGL) which offers study track in Chinese law. ‘GGL would attract many students who are passionate about learning Chinese and comparative laws from a Nordic perspective’, said Professor Letto-Vanamo. Professor Liukkunen added that meanwhile, the Finnish China Law Center has been receiving several requests to conduct visiting research here. In view of the applicants’ qualification and experience, the Center will incorporate them into the Center’s research projects and academic lectures and seminars. The Center also houses several interns from different legal backgrounds and legal cultures, who involve in legal research, editing and writing on the law and China, and events organized by the Center. In April 2020, the Center will again hold the China Law Research Workshop providing an overview of how to approach Chinese legal research and comparative law research involving China.
Professor Ye remarked that the GGL programme would be a great basis for future collaboration. PKU would consider recommending young scholars for visiting and giving lectures in the programme. She also mentioned that PKU highly valued the Center and UH Faculty of Law’s effort in promoting Chinese law and legal culture in Finland and the Nordic, and would like to joint hand in developing Sino-Nordic comparative law researches in civil law, social security, labour law, and human rights. ‘The Nordic legal model, especially in labour law, is very strong and unique. It is indeed what China can learn from,’ she remarked.
East Asia is an economically connected region with overlapping historical, linguistic, and cultural characteristics, as well as diverse nations and groups with different political systems and contemporary cultures.
For a more international perspective, University of Turku, a member institution of the Finnish China Law Center, sets up the master’s programme called East Asian Studies (EAST). With this Programme, participants will learn the sociocultural understanding and analytical skills of international relations and history development.
Students in the Programme would gain expertise on East Asian contemporary history, politics and societies and learn social science research methods. Additionally, they would have good opportunities for student exchange in East Asian universities as well as receiving East Asian study and research scholarships. The Programme provides expertise to enter international public, private and third sector professions. Students would also become qualified to apply to PhD programmes and pursue an academic career.
The Programme sets up six modules, including Study and Research Skills, Histories of East Asian Countries, Contemporary Politics, Societies, and Economies of East Asia, East Asia in Regional and Global Context, Master’s Thesis, Work Life Competences and Language Studies. It provides also courses on the following subjects about China:
The application period for the Programme begins on 8 January 2020, and ends on 22 January 2020 . For information about the application process and how to apply, please visit the Programme website.
The text is contributed by the Center’s intern, Ms. Zhiqi Luan. Zhiqi Luan is a graduate student at the China University of Political Science and Law, and an exchange student at University of Helsinki for the autumn term 2019-2020.
On 13 December 2019, the University of Helsinki, represented by Vice-Rector of Internationalisation, Professor Hanna Snellman had the pleasure to welcome a delegation from Peking University led by Professor Ye Jingyi, Vice Chairperson, University Council, Peking University, Professor and Director, Institute of Labour and Social Security Laws, Peking University Law School. During the visit, Peking University delegation met also with Dr. Erkki Raulo, Senior Advisor of Research Services, and Dr. Anna-Maria Salmi, Head of Development of International Affairs, and Professor Ulla Liukkunen, Director of the Finnish China Law Center and Board Member of the European China Law Studies Association.
The visit was an excellent opportunity for Peking University and University of Helsinki to update on topical affairs and current collaborations in the framework of their strategic partnership, and renew the exchange agreement strengthening academic contacts between the two universities.
Peking University has been one of the oldest partners of the University of Helsinki since 1983. The two Universities enjoy high level of international cooperation in research and education, especially in the legal field.
Professor Liukkunen recalled the long history of cooperation, in which Peking University Law School, the Finnish China Law Center, and its member institutions have worked together on many successful research projects, as well publications. The fruitful Sino-Finnish collaboration, she remarked, has been made possible through fundamental support from Professor Ye, Assistant Professor Yan Tian, Assistant Professor Yifeng Chen, and many other colleagues at Peking University Law School.
Professor Ye commented that Peking University has greatly benefited from strategic partnership with the University of Helsinki, especially in law, air quality, education and medicine. Most notably, she regarded the joint legal activities as great achievement, which helps foster and develop comparative studies and understanding of Finland and China’s unique legal models and legal cultures. She hoped the long-last cooperation between two Universities will continue for many years to come.
This is Part II of the two-part blog post on the interview with Prof. Kimmo Nuotio on his thoughts and recollection of the China Law Center, as well as other aspects of Chinese collaboration, including the Belt-and-Road Initiative. The interview has been done by our research assistant, Ngor Sin. Part I can be found here.
In Part II, we cover Prof. Kimmo Nuotio’s participation in Belt and Road Initiative-related projects, and his general experience of collaboration with Chinese scholars and education institutions. He also gave very insightful comments on his personal approach of how to collaborate with Chinese colleagues.
New Silk Road Law Schools Alliance and the related publication
One of the biggest efforts in BRI regarding legal science collaboration is the New Silk Road Alliance of Law Schools, which Prof. Nuotio has knowledge since the Alliance’s infancy. He recalled that during his visit to Xi’an Jiaotong University in 2014 to give the opening lecture of a Silk Road-related seminar, there was a discussion between him and the then-Dean of Faculty of Law of Xi’an Jiaotong University Wenhua Shan. During the talk for furthering cooperation between Chinese and foreign law schools, the idea of some new arrangement was developed. After some further exchanges and preparation especially on the Chinese side, the alliance was launched in 2015. From the start, the alliance aimed at bringing together high-quality Chinese and foreign law schools and having a regular platform for exchange of ideas and possible collaborations. Each year, the Alliance would hold Dean Meetings (such as the ones in 2016) as well as other academic conferences to discuss BRI-related topics.
The publication “Normative Readings of the Belt and Road Initiative” is the direct result of the conferences. This book is an early reflection of the legal aspects in BRI. In Prof. Nuotio’s opinion, BRI is mainly a foreign policy concept, but it is interesting to conduct research on this policy, as the legal aspect of BRI comprises of not only Chinese law, but also international law, especially rules regarding how China deals with its neighbours, how the BRI investments are made and are protected by legal regimes. He also mentioned the reason for this publication is to make the best use of materials published in the conferences, as he believe that all collaborations should be serious and should result in some sort of published works, so that the world at large also can read about the results of the academic collaborations.
General Experience of collaboration with Chinese scholars and institutions
Talking about his experience in China, Prof. Nuotio is very positive about his collaboration as well as visits in general. His recent seminar in Peking University on sexual offences was a success. The proceedings of the seminar, including Prof. Nuotio’s presentation and responses from the audience was recently published online (in Chinese), which Prof. Nuotio is very pleased to hear about. For him, although scholars are often responsible for high-level abstract knowledge production, there must be some groundwork done in order for the legal systems to develop. He also noticed that despite the geographical differences, discussions about problems arising from the legal systems of different countries, such as China and Finland, are almost always the same, thus comparative studies would play a vital role in assisting the development of legal systems.
From there, Prof. Nuotio also spoke about his general perception about collaboration with Chinese scholars and institutions in general. He regarded Chinese scholars highly for their openness and frankness. As a criminal law professor, he reckoned that sometimes society has wicked problems that must be confronted and solved, and scholars must be able to openly and freely discuss these problems. He noted the importance of scholars to be able to speak and exchange ideas freely, as only honest and frank exchanges among scholars are meaningful and productive. He also noted the huge differences in social and political systems between Finland and China, and thought that it is the scholars of that legal system to solve their respective problems with their own ways. The academic exchanges were, in his opinion, rather to tell about experiences on how the respective sides have dealt with the problems commonly faced, and what are the reflections of developments or policies concerned.
Background of Prof. Kimmo Nuotio
Prof. Kimmo Nuotio is a renowned legal scholar with Chinese collaboration experience. He is currently the professor of criminal law at University of Helsinki and is chairing the Strategic Research Council. Previously, he was the Dean of the Law Faculty at University of Helsinki between 2010–2017, and was also the chair of the board of China Law Center between 2013–2019. He also has experience in collaboration with Chinese scholars and working with Chinese materials, including several seminars given at Chinese universities and academic institutions, as well as a journal article on comparative perspectives between Finnish and Chinese law — “the transformation of criminal law and criminal law theory in Finland and China”. He also recently edited a book concerning the Belt and Road Initiative — “Normative Readings of the Belt and Road Initiative”. He was also appointed as a member of Peking University Law School’s new Global Faculty in 2018.
In this two-part blog post, we would be reporting on the interview of Prof. Kimmo Nuotio, done by our research assistant, Ngor Sin. In the interview, Prof. Nuotio talked about how the China Law Center was first conceived and subsequently established, followed by his participation in the scholarly efforts on the Belt and Road Initiative and New Silk Road Law Schools alliance. Lastly, Prof. Nuotio recalled his personal experience and views on collaboration with Chinese scholars. Part II can be found here.
The first part of this interview blog post would cover Prof. Nuotio’s experience with the China Law Center, as well as his personal opinion on the impact and development of the work done by the Center. In the second part, we would cover Prof. Nuotio’s participation in collaboration with Chinese scholars in general, as well as his recent involvement in the Belt and Road Initiative scholarly efforts and the New Silk Road Alliance of Law Schools.
The birth of China Law Center
Prof. Nuotio first recalled how the idea of establishing the China Law Center came about. In 2009, the Institute of Law, Chinese Academy of Social Science (CASS Law) and the Academy of Finland agreed to collaborate in the field of comparative law, related to rule of law topics. Such collaboration resulted in several comparative law conferences held among Finnish and Chinese legal scholars, which has become a tradition since. Details of the conferences are reported on our blog: 2019, 2018, 2017).
According to Prof. Nuotio, the actual plan of building a China Law Center has been materialised in 2012-2013. Given the increase in collaboration, it has been noted that a coordinating unit between Finnish institutions and Chinese institutions is needed. Therefore, around 2012, discussions regarding the establishment of such unit initiated among the Finnish institutions, and the Center was formally launched in 2013. While the Center is based at the University of Helsinki, the whole Sino-Finnish collaboration, including the establishment of the Center, is a joint effort among all the Finnish institutions, which eventually become members of the Center.
Impact and other Thoughts about the China Law Center
On the questions regarding the impact of the China Law Center on Sino-Finnish collaboration, Prof. Nuotio is very positive about the Center’s work. He referred the Center as a national center for coordination of Sino-Finnish research efforts in legal sciences. Another notable achievement that the Center has obtained would be the China Law Center collection, which has been built with the assistance of the Center’s Chinese partners, notably Faculty of Law of Peking University, and is currently hosted by the University of Helsinki Library.
On the impacts that the China Law Center might have been exerting on the scholarly scene, Prof. Nuotio noted that research efforts are usually not easily quantifiable. Instead, it is the existence of the China Law Center that leads to many other possible Sino-Finnish collaboration. In his opinion, the China Law Center presents an alternative to the Chinese scholars on possible collaboration partners and opportunities. Through the Center, Chinese scholars have started to explore European and particularly Nordic legal tradition. Although the Center is not the only European institution engaging the same kind of work, it is the first one in the Nordic countries.
Prof. Nuotio remarked that the China Law Center is like a baby that he has built from scratch, since he has been involved in the establishment of the Center, and later was also heavily involved in the strategic development of the China Law Center. He is now very happy to see the Center’s current development and that it is very active in Sino-Finnish collaboration. He is also please to notice that every member institution of the Center is making the best use of the Center, and hope that this will continue under the new leadership of the Center’s Board.
In the next part, we will talk about Prof. Nuotio’s personal experience in Chinese collaborations and his recent involvement the Belt and Road Initiative-related projects.
Background of Prof. Kimmo Nuotio
Prof. Kimmo Nuotio is a renowned legal scholar with Chinese collaboration experience. He is currently the professor of criminal law at University of Helsinki and is chairing the Strategic Research Council. Previously, he was the Dean of the Law Faculty at University of Helsinki between 2010–2017, and was also the chair of the board of China Law Center between 2013–2019. He also has experience in collaboration with Chinese scholars and working with Chinese materials, including several seminars given at Chinese universities and academic institutions, as well as a journal article on comparative perspectives between Finnish and Chinese law — “the transformation of criminal law and criminal law theory in Finland and China”. He also recently edited a book concerning the Belt and Road Initiative — “Normative Readings of the Belt and Road Initiative”. He was also appointed as a member of Peking University Law School’s new Global Faculty in 2018.
We want to bring you a great news today by presenting you the latest entries in the China Law Center Collection, kindly hosted and managed by the University of Helsinki library in Kaisa-talo! These new Chinese and English entries are donated by our partner institutions, notably Peking University, and they are going to enrich the already wide array of collection items. In this blog post, we will give you a full tour of these new entries — their details in general, and how to find them electronically and physically!
Until November, there are 39 new items entered in the China Law Center Collection for the year 2019. These items are donated to the Center from our partner institutions, notably from Peking University. In order to introduce these new items, let us start with some numbers:
Most of the English new items are entry-level textbooks for readers that would like to have an introductory view on Chinese legal system, but there are also some in-depth analysis of recent Chinese legal developments, such as the commentary on State Secret Law, Civil Procedural Law and Corporate Governance. Regarding the Chinese books, there are many high-quality publications on in-depth analysis of Chinese legal theories and the Chinese legal system, such as several publications on research about management of state-owned enterprises and other assets (2007, 2010, 2011), a publication on civil servant and their transparency, as well as two important works on human rights law (first and second editions).
Among the new items, there are quite a number of books about Chinese legal system and Chinese legal theories, both in general and specific topics. These include works on development of Chinese legal system, from the dawn of civilization all the way up to modern developments (such as in securities law and civil justice).
You can find these new items, together with the whole China Law Center Collection, either through online database (Helka) or by visiting Kaisa-talo at University of Helsinki.
For Helka, all the books and materials in the China Law Center collection can be looked up by entering search terms in the search bar or, using this link to instantly get the required parameters in Helka. Or, you can limit the call number in your advanced search to be “hc 4. krs oikeustiede china law center collection”.
For the physical collection, the Collection is located on the 4/F of Kaisa-talo library, at the end of the Law catalogue, on the side facing Fabianinkatu (See map with this link).
Yes! This unique Chinese-Finnish collaboration work might interest you:
法制改革与法治发展 : 中国与芬兰的比较
Legal reform and the development of rule of law: a comparison between China and Finland
Chen, Su and Liukkunen, Ulla
Social Science Academic Press/
Jurisprudence – Legal Philosophy
This is a collection of research output presented in the 8th and 9th Sino-Finnish Comparative Law Seminars, co-hosted by Chinese Academy of Social Science (CASS) Institute of Law and Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki. These research output included popular topics among the legal development and scholarly fields of Finland and China, namely legal reform and development; sustainable development and environmental regulatory regime; Internet, AI and responses from the legal system; and compilation and amendment of civil code. The editors believed that this publication would encourage Sino-Finnish legal cultural exchange and comparative reference to the legal systems of both countries, would provide beneficial theoretical and knowledge basis for furthering Sino-Finnish legal development.
HU Library Call No.
Hc 4. krs Oikeustiede China Law Center Collection Fazhi
I have a question about the China Law Center Collection. Where should I contact?
If the question concerns the collection itself, or you have question regarding research or library-related stuff, please contact the relevant librarian and staff at the University of Helsinki library. You can find their contact information here.
Questions regarding the China Law Center can be forwarded to the Center, via the contact methods listed here.
Before the end of the blog post, we have to thank deeply both the University of Helsinki library staff, as well as the China Law Center interns for lending extra hands in processing and transporting these new items to the library! Without their immense help, these new items would not be able to be provided to the public with such speed and accuracy.
On 29 November 2019, Björn Ahl, Professor from University of Cologne and President of the European China Law Studies Association, gave a guest lecture at the Finnish China Law Center. The topic of his presentation was ‘Judicialization in Authoritarian Regimes: The Expansion of Powers of the Chinese Supreme People’s Court’.
Professor Björn Ahl aimed to demonstrate how the Chinese constitutional system works and what the position and function of the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) are through this lecture. He firstly introduced the global phenomenon of the 20th-century judicialization, under which, judicialization can be distinguished into two forms: expansion of the courts’ scope of action at the expense of politics, and the absorption of methods of judicial decision-making by other executive and legislative state organs.
The development of judicialization has been seen in three layers. First, legal discourses, legal terminology, legal rules, and procedures diffuse into processes of judicial decision-making. Then, courts expand their competence and increase their influence over the outcomes of political possesses. And finally, courts decide important political questions. These can be reflected from the development of the Chinese legal system. While some scholars stated that there was no judicialization in the authoritarian legal system, Professor Ahl contended that the strengthened rule of law in China can also be observed in the development of other constitutional systems.
As a One-party system concentrates powers of decision-making in the organs of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and in the executive organs of the state, Chinese courts, particularly the SPC become an integral part of the party-state structure and political institutions. This, as Professor Ahl presented, has led to some special feature of a limited and reversible judicialization in China as dynamics have been seen as intrinsically local’ and courts rely on party support and active engagement of administrative agencies under administrative litigation.
As for the SPC, Professor Ahl said that motivated by institutional self-interest, it was now less influenced by party leadership or legal reform ideologies and had transformed into a relatively autonomous policy-making organization. He then analyzed from four aspects of SPC: Fundamental rights in courts, self-empowerment through judicial interpretations, guiding cases mechanism, and mandatory death penalty review power, in which Professor Ahl emphasized the last three aspects and how they worked under the current special constitutional structure in China as a reflection of the strengthening of the SPC’s power.
Professor Björn Ahl finally concluded that Chinese judicialization bore significant differences from the judicialization in liberal constitutional systems. According to this opinion, judicialization in China has its own characteristics. The SPC still operates as an ‘active lawmaker’ even though it possessed parallel law-making powers, and has no ultimate power of decision-making on critical problems in society. As SPC’s power increasing, political decision-making of other actors of the party-state would not be changed into more rule-based judicial forms of decision making.
The text is contributed by the Center’s intern, Ms. Xiaodan Zhang who is completing her Masters in International and Comparative Law (International Business Law) at the University of Helsinki.
Globalization has brought about situations where which different bodies of law become increasingly intertwined beyond traditional borders. Legal experts and scholars are now required to examine the content of national, international, European, and transnational laws when they apply norms.
In order to deliver the most practical knowledge and insight into the increasing globalization of law and legal thinking, University of Helsinki, a member institution of the Finnish China Law Center, sets up a new master’s programme called Global Governance Law (GGL).
The two-year long research-oriented Master’s programme offers series of lectures, seminars and interactive tutorials built by internationally distinguished experts in their fields. It is designed to provide solid foundation and skills to prepare students for expert duties in public administration, international organizations, NGO, law firms, corporate legal departments, and legal academia. During their study, programme participants will be able to specialize in key fields of law are of particular interest to them such as Global Governance Law, Public International Law, European Union Law, Global Administrative Law, Human Rights Law, International Institutions, Finance and the Environment, and Business and Company Law.
“The Master’s programme also provides the opportunity to study Chinese law, rarely on offer in faculties of law”, said Päivi Leino-Sandberg, Professor of Transnational European Law and Director of GGL. The Director of the Finnish China Law Center, Professor Ulla Liukkunen is in charge of the Chinese law stream of GGL which provides courses on the following subjects:
Chinese legal system: history and presence
Business and Company law: governing economics
China in international organisations – transnational governance
Corporate social responsibility and fundamental labour rights in China
The application period for the programme begins on 03 Dec 2019 at 08.00 (UTC+2), and ends on 10 Jan 2020 at 15.00 (UTC+2). For information about the application process and how to apply, please visit the programme website.
Ulla Liukkunen, Professor of Labour Law and Private International Law at the University of Helsinki and Director of the Finnish China Law Center and Yifeng Chen, Associate Professor at Peking University Law School and Assistant Director of the Peking University Institute of International Law published this month an article entitled ‘Enclave Governance and Transnational Labor Law – A Case Study of Chinese Workers on Strike in Africa’ in the Nordic Journal of International Law.
The article examines deficits in the current legal framework of posted workers in a global setting through a case study involving Chinese posted workers striking in Equatorial Guinea. Posting highlights the challenges that economic globalisation and transformation of the labour market pose to labour law. As a phenomenon whose normativity is deeply embedded in the cross-border setting where it occurs, posting should profoundly affect the transnational labour law agenda. The emergence of transnational labour law should be seen from the perspective of reconceptualising existing normative regimes in the light of an underpinning transnationality and sketching the architecture for the normative edifice of transnational labour protection. The transnational legal context under scrutiny calls for a wider normative framework where the intersections between labour law, international law and private international law are taken seriously. Global protection of posted workers should be a featured project on the transnational labour law agenda.
For all inquiries please contact the Director of the Network, Outi Luova at firstname.lastname@example.org or tel 029 450 3058.
Background to the event
This year, the Asian Studies Days brings together people from academia, business, public administration, and civil society with a shared interest in Asia to discuss the recent trends, prospects, and challenges in the implementation of science and university policies in Asia. The theme is of topical importance considering the significant science capacities of China and many other Asian countries such as Japan, South Korea, India, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.
The event aims to deepen understanding of the specific features in the academic research and education that should be taken into account when pursuing cooperation with Asian actors. The discussions will also help develop realistic and sustainable cooperation with Asian countries in the field of science, technology, and education.
On Friday 13 September 2019, Professor William Hui-yen Hsu from National Dong Hwa University gave a guest lecture at the Finnish China Law Center. The topic of his presentation was ‘The judicial implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) in Taiwan – observations on the decisions of the two Supreme Courts.’
Professor Hsu began with a short introduction to Taiwan and its effort to promote and enforce several international human rights treaties. Despite having been a non- member of the United Nations (UN) since 1971, Taiwan retains a strong will to contribute to international society. It has attempted to internalize many human rights standards as envisaged in the human rights treaties endorsed by the UN through ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
He added that nevertheless, Taiwan’s instrument of ratification was rejected by the UN Secretary-General and thus, was never a formal member of the ICESCR. The ICESCR became binding on Taiwan by means of unilateral declarations made by the President and the Government. To prevent any misunderstanding regarding the bindingness of the ICESCR on Taiwan, the Parliament passed legislation which incorporated the content of the covenant into Taiwan’s domestic law.
Professor Hsu observed that Taiwanese domestic courts have increasingly used the ICESCR as tool for implementing and enhancing domestic law, and confirming the legality of administrative acts. Training is developed for judges and lawyers to deepen their understanding of the covenant. From 2009 to 2019, the ICESCR has been invoked in 94 civil, criminal and administrative cases before the Supreme Courts, primarily regarding the right to adequate standard of living under Article 11 (invoked 32 times), family rights provided by Article 10 (invoked 15 times), right to work stipulated in Article 6 (invoked 11 times), and cultural rights under Art 15 (invoked 10 times). In 30 of these cases, the Courts have positively applied the covenant. The Professor concluded his presentation with an overview of the landmark 2019 Asia Cement Company case where Article 15 of the ICESCR and Article 17 of the ICCPR have been called upon to give enhancement to the provisions of the Indigenous People Basic Law.
On 18 October 2019, the Saint Petersburg State University in collaboration with the Polish Research Center for Chinese Law and Economy, the Finnish Center of Chinese Law and Chinese Legal Culture, and Sino-Russian Legal Research Center of Jilin University will hold an International Conference on ‘Methodology of researching and teaching Chinese law.’
Time: Friday 18 October 2019, 10:00 – 17:40.
Venue: Assembly hall (room N 64), Saint Petersburg State University, 22nd Line of Vasilyevskyisland, 7.
The event is free and open to all that are interested in research and teaching of Chinese law to non-Chinese students.
The Conference aims to create a platform for discussing and sharing ideas on the issues of Chinese law research and teaching in foreign universities, and to establish cooperation between specialists in relevant fields of Chinese law. The presentations focus on:
Defining the concept and the object of legal research.
Criteria for good legal research.
The role of practice in teaching and researching Chinese Law.
The contributions of comparative law to teaching and researching Chinese Law.
The interpretation of legal sources.
The use of interdisciplinary methods.
Quantitative empirical approaches to researching Chinese Law.
Building the syllabus for teaching different branches of Chinese Law.
The ILO 100th Anniversary Seminar – International Labour Standards Their Future Role in the Globalised World will be held on 18 September 2019 at the University of Helsinki.
This year marks the celebration of ILO Centenary. Participating in the worldwide anniversary, the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Law takes this as an opportunity to look at the achievements, future challenges and prospects of the ILO. The Seminar, thus, provides a platform for discussion on the roles, monitoring and enforcement of international labour standards as well as the implementation of labour rights in culturally diverse legal systems and regulatory frameworks. The seminar will also discuss the experience of China and other Asian countries with the ILO.
In recent years, China has grown to be one of world’s largest economies, being second only to the USA. The GDP increase also means that the living standards of many Chinese have risen and that the government had the necessary resources to further develop China’s legal system. For example, criminal law has changed tremendously, but so did the economic system in order to attract foreign investors. Thus, as a consequence of both globalisation and the increasing importance of China, the need for legal professionals who can effectively combine European and Chinese law has grown as well.
In this post, the Finnish China Law Center would like to introduce The China-EU School of Law (CESL), a manifestation of Sino-European cooperation. CESL officially opened on 23rd October 2008 at the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing. It was funded and established by the European Union and the People’s Republic of China. Moreover, it is the only Chinese-European school of law worldwide. For the last decade, CESL has devoted its resources to educating the Chinese and international lawyers of tomorrow. Additionally, it provides professional training for lawyers, prosecutors, judges and civil servants and promoted research and collaboration in order to develop a society based on the rule of law. Thus, the school has successfully become a medium for legal education, research, exchanges and, most importantly, a bridge between the EU and China.
The international academic alliance between 13 European Universities and 3 Chinese universities and institutions is coordinated by the Faculty of Law at Universität Hamburg. Over the years, more than 10.000 Chinese and European students and law practitioners have participated in the school’s activities and there are around 400 students every year. The master’s programme appeals to both Chinese and international students as it provides the essential elements to thrive in the competitive legal field. While European students can enrol in the English-taught Master of European and International Law (LL.M.), Chinese students can study a Double Master’s programme which combines the LL.M. with a Chinese-taught Master of Chinese Law. Additionally, a new English-taught International Master of Chinese Law for international students will begin in 2019. Furthermore, there are academic exchange options as well: European students can study in China for one semester, while Chinese master students can do an exchange in Europe for two months and Chinese PhD students can spend up to a year in Europe.
Regarding research, the China-EU School of Law focus on examining the legal issues that affect both China and Europe. Thus, the school promotes and enables research on Chinese law, European law, International law etc. Additionally, it is also a forum for legal discussion, as its partners and associates contribute to its research network. The school is ideal for those who enjoy a comparative approach to law, as European students learn about Chinese law and culture and Chinese scholars expand their international law knowledge. Apart from this, the school also offers courses and training for legal professionals who want to broaden their horizons on international matters.
At its 10-year anniversary last year, Mr. Nicolas Chapuis, Ambassador of the EU, stated that: “Since its establishment 10 years ago, CESL has proven to be a center of excellence in legal education. It also has created a unique platform for exchange between Chinese and European students, scholars and legal practitioners, promoting and fostering mutual understanding and learning. Those exchanges can contribute considerably to more and better cooperation in an ever more connected world.”
Furthermore, the celebration offered an amazing opportunity to reflect on the development of the school over the years and on the state of contemporary legal academic cooperation. Various high-level representatives (such as EU Ambassador Chapuis and the former Minister of Justice Mr. Zhang Fusen) and alumni had the chance to share their experiences and insights with current students and members of the CESL network.
To conclude, CELS has majorly contributed not only to creating an enduring alliance between China and the EU, but also as an exceptional example of international cooperation for other countries and continents.
(Thanks to Ms. Adelina G. Dobrila for contributing text for this article).
A Nordic meeting of Nordic level collaboration in China law activities was held after the 10th Sino-Finnish bilateral seminar. The meeting took place at the Headquarters of the Nordic Investment Bank in Helsinki on 11 June 2019. The meeting was attended by representatives of Universities of Helsinki, Turku, Eastern Finland, Örebro, Lund, Oslo, Copenhagen and Peking.
The participants were received by the Bank’s General Counsel and Head of Legal Department Heikki Cantell who gave the Nordic delegation an insightful introduction to the history, culture and mission of the Bank.
After the introduction, the delegation was given a presentation on the enforcement of transnational labour standards by international financial institutions from a Chinese perspective by Associate Professor Chen Yifeng from Peking University.
In the meeting, the participants discussed developing Nordic China law cooperation in terms of research and education activities where synergy could be sought by joint activities. Professor Ulla Liukkunen introduced recent Center activities that have a Nordic dimension. Several future opportunities were discussed and will be developed further under the preparation of the China Law Center and the Faculty of Law of the University of Helsinki.
(Thanks to Mr. Jani Mustonen for contributing text for this article).
On 10-11 June 2019, the China Law Center together with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) and in collaboration with Faculty of Law at University of Helsinki, organized the 10th Sino-Finnish Bilateral Seminar on Comparative Law. The seminar is held annually and its location alternates between Finland and China. This year the seminar was hosted by University of Helsinki.
Sino-Finnish seminars form an important part of the bilateral cooperation with CASS and are meant to facilitate legal dialogue in different fields of law. This year the 10th seminar was delighted to have six academics from CASS which is the leading Chinese research and education institution in the field of social sciences in China. These scholars were Director of Institute of Law, Professor Chen Su, Professor Xie Zengyi, Professor Zhai Guoqiang, Associate Professor Zhao Lei, Assistant Professor Yue Xiaohua and Assistant Professor Wang Shuaiyi.
The seminar was opened by remarks from both Professor Pia Letto-Vanamo, the Dean and Chair of the Board of the Finnish China Law Center, and Professor Chen Su. Both highlighted the importance of the work of the Center, as well as the collaboration between Chinese and Nordic scholars on a widening array of topics.
The general theme of the 10th seminar was sustainability and different sessions covered this theme from the viewpoints of environment, business and labour as well as corporate governance. In addition to sustainability, the seminar also saw two sessions focusing on law, language and culture and public law.
The seminar’s first session covered law, language and legal culture beginning by a comparative analysis of culture and legal culture in China and the Nordic countries by Professor Ditlev Tamm. Professor Matti Nojonen’s presentation addressed the concept of ‘practical rationality’ analysed traditional and contemporary Chinese legal thinking. Assistant Professor Wang’s presentation was about the influence of Chinese traditional culture on law from the viewpoint of civil law and criminal law. Finally, Marinna Hintikka and her colleagues gave a presentation on workplace communication at Law Faculty reflecting methodology, motivation and practical application.
The second thematic area covered was sustainability and environment. This session saw two presentations: one from Professor Kai Kakko under the title “From environmental law to sustainability law – some general aspects and a case study about the forest definition” and the other from Assistant Professor Yue Xiaohua under the title “Regulation development and its system improvement of China’s natural resources”.
A third thematic area discussed sustainability and business and it saw presentations from University Researcher Harriet Lonka on the topic of food law as a tool for advancing sustainable business, from Associate Professor Zhao Lei on the role of credit in the era of big data in promoting business development, from Professor Veli-Matti Virolainen on sustainable business models and ecosystems and from Professor Ellen Eftestøl-Wilhelmsson on the topic of the proposed EU regulation on electronic freight transport information.
In the second day of the seminar, themes incorporating sustainability and labour as well as public law developments were discussed. The first session included a presentation from Professor Ulla Liukkunen on the topic of employee participation in corporate governance, from Professor Xie Zengyi on the topic of employee participation in corporate governance in terms of Chinese experience and from Professor Jukka Mähönen on the topic employee participation in corporate governance: a possibility for or a threat to sustainability.
The seminar’s final session covered developments in public law with presentations on the developments in evidence in criminal procedure by Professor Tuomas Hupli, the development of constitutional structure in People’s Republic of China (1949-2019) by Professor Zhai Guoqiang and, thirdly, on law and development in a global context by Professor Kimmo Nuotio.
The seminar also celebrated a joint publication by CASS and University of Helsinki. The title of the book is “Legal Reform and the Development of Rule of Law: A Comparison of between China and Finland” and it features contributions from legal scholars in both China and Finland, gathering together papers of the 8th and 9th Sino-Finnish seminars. The book has been edited by Chen Su and Ulla Liukkunen.
Next year’s 11th bilateral seminar will be held in China.
Global warming and climate change is a topic that we see and hear about on a regular basis. When discussing climate change, it is impossible not to mention China. Sanna Kopra is a post-doctoral researcher in the Arctic Centre located in the University of Lapland and a visiting scholar in the Aleksanteri Institute located in the University of Helsinki and she has conducted extensive research into China in relation to climate change. Before examining her current activities in more detail, let’s revise her impressive academic history in the field of China.
Sanna has been interested in China for a lengthy period. Her interest was first sparked during her undergraduate studies, when she minored in Asian studies through the Finnish University Network for Asian Studies. “China had just become the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases and it protested all attempts at setting emission reductions for developing countries. I examined China’s rhetoric in international climate discussions in my undergraduate thesis and this is something that still intrigues me”, Sanna reveals.
In addition to researching and studying China, Sanna has studied Chinese both in Finland as well as in China. Originally, Sanna envisioned taking advantage of her Chinese skills in her studies, but when her research developed and became more theoretical, there was no immediate need to utilize materials in Chinese. “For that reason, my Chinese skills have become more passive. In terms of my research, this is fine, as I’m interested in China’s role in international politics rather than China’s domestic policies”, Sanna observes.
All of her hard work in researching China and climate responsibility has certainly paid off. She won the International Studies Association English School Section’s Outstanding Research Paper Award last spring in the Junior Scholar category for her paper on ‘China and International Climate Responsibility: Agency and Institutional Change.’ Sanna divulges: “Barry Buzan, one of the gurus in the field, commented on the paper: ‘well done, read more, and carry on’. This alone was very reassuring for a young researcher like myself, but the award was the icing on the cake!”
“Environmental responsibility is a meaningful way for China to define great power responsibility, and thereby legitimize itself as a great power. Although China has several domestic reasons to control climate change, Beijing is also unwilling to sacrifice its economic interests for the environmental good. This is why the European Union has a significant role – with ambitious climate politics the EU can encourage China to take even bigger responsibility”, Sanna discloses.
The withdrawal of the USA from the Paris Agreement, and people’s increasing interest in the environment and sustainable development in general, underline the fact that Sanna’s book concentrates on an exceedingly current topic. Sanna flashes that she could even consider writing another book one day, but about China’s Arctic politics.
Indeed, several countries are interested in the Arctic and their resources, and China is no exception. One indication of China’s interest in the region is China receiving an observer status in the Arctic Council. This means that even though China has no voting rights, it can now participate in the Arctic Council as an observer country. Furthermore, the Arctic is “an important region for environmental sciences and China is interested in knowing how Arctic climate change can influence China in relation to food safety and weather phenomena, to name a few”, Sanna explains.
The Academy of Finland recently awarded Sanna with a three-year grant for her research on the rise of China and the normative transformation in the Arctic region in spring 2018. She is currently examining how the rise of China is shaping the processes in which notions of responsibility are defined, allocated and operationalized in the Arctic.
“While China’s Arctic interests have been studied a great deal, most of that research has failed to consider which values and norms actually guide China’s Arctic activities, or how China’s growing role in the area challenges the already existing norms and practices in the Arctic areas”, Sanna clarifies. This is what her current research delves into.
When asked about her 2018 highlights, her response is immediate: publishing her first book and receiving a grant from the Academy of Finland. 2019 has also started memorably, as she is spending the first couple of months on a research exchange at the University of Tromsø in Norway. “I hope to learn a lot about Arctic politics and I look forward to meeting new people. I also wish to see amazing scenery – despite the polar night!”
*Important update: The Finnish China Law Center informs that Mr. Jani Mustonen is not working with us from 01 July 2019. For any inquiries regarding the Center, please contact us directly at email@example.com.
The Finnish Center of Chinese Law and Chinese Legal Culture is pleased to introduce its new Coordinator, Mr. Jani Mustonen.
A Mandarin speaker, Jani originally started studying Chinese language at the University of Helsinki. Jani holds a bachelor’s degree in East Asian studies from the University of Helsinki and has obtained his master’s degree from the University of Vienna, Austria, in the program of East Asian economics and politics. Jani wrote his master’s thesis on the privatization of state-owned companies in East Asia with the aim of entering international banking and business.
However, Jani’s plans were quickly redrawn after having started working at the Embassy of Finland in Beijing. “Public diplomacy won my heart over” says Jani. “I initially thought of staying at the Ministry only for a short while but ended up staying for six years working for political, commercial and consular departments.”
Jani has lived in China altogether for seven years but is happy to be back on Finnish soil. “I am very pleased to be able to put my work experience to good use here at the University. There is a lively and youthful atmosphere here and, in a way, it feels like coming back home. I still eat my lunch where I used to 14 years ago.”
“It’s a very exciting time to be working as the coordinator at the center”, Jani says. “My predecessors have done an incredible job in raising the center’s profile. The hard work has paid off handsomely, proof of which is the center’s role in the Sino-Finnish joint action plan.”
Jani replaces the center’s previous coordinator, Mr. Stuart Mooney. “Stuart’s contributions to the center were tangible and I have been quite impressed with the center’s development. We have been recognized by the highest level of government which gives us credibility and a solid base on which to build future activities. In the long term, I see growing demand for stronger synergies with other Nordic universities with regards to understanding Chinese legal system and cooperating with Chinese universities. I would like to work toward this goal.”
The center welcomes all inquiries, potential collaboration, and questions about bilateral Sino-Finnish legal issues. Based in the Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki, the center can be contacted either at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Professor Chen noted that traditionally, International Financial Institutions (IFIs) had not been active in labor rights protection. However, since the late 1990s, the IFIs have grown more involved in labor matters. He pointed to the fact that since the 2000s, labor standards have been incorporated into the policy instruments of the IFIs, with examples set by the Asian Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank, the Nordic Investment Bank, the African Development Bank and so on.
However, IFIs’ approach to labor protection has been different from each other. Specifically, the levels of labor protection afforded are uneven among the institutions and the enforcement of labor rights remains diverse in practice. Additionally, institutionalization of labor standards within the financial institutions varies in terms of degree and means. In the course of this development, the ILO has played a very important and indispensable role in the dissemination of knowledge and expertise about labor standards.
Professor Chen posited that IFIs’ growing engagement with labor protection has created a recognized body of labor standards that are formulated, applied and enforced in a transnational context. The application of labor standards is project-specific, and is not based on the principle of personam jurisdiction, but instead the principle of in rem jurisdiction, linked to projects financed by the IFIs.
He then discussed what constitutes the content of IFI labor standards. All four ILO core labor standards, namely freedom of association and collective bargaining, prohibition of forced labor, prohibition of child labor, and non-discrimination in respect of employment and occupation, are generally recognized. Additionally, IFI labor standards may involve safe working conditions and other workers’ rights. His presentation also illustrated how controversial labor standards recognized by the IFIs are by referring to the World Bank’s position regarding the highly politically sensitive issue of freedom of association.
The Finnish China Law Center’s role is aimed at deepening bilateral research and education cooperation between China and Finland on sustainability issues, including ‘corporate social responsibility, sustainable business practices, labour law, environmental law, Arctic-related laws and other fields of mutual interest’, according to the Plan.
Professor Yifeng Chen, Associate Professor and Assistant Dean (International) of Peking University Law School, says the Plan is ‘a testimony to how quickly the Finnish China Law Center has established itself over the years of its operation’.
‘The Center is an important platform for intellectual exchange between legal scholars in Finland and China, and increasingly the Nordic region as a whole’.
The Center coordinator Stuart Mooney has decided to move on and his last day with us is 21 January 2019.
We are thankful for all the work Stuart Mooney has done for the Center. His talent, hard work and commitment have been valuable assets, and without doubt, contributed to the success of the Center, says Director Ulla Liukkunen.
According to the event organizers, East Asian countries are among the most advanced in the utilization of robots and the development of AI. Robots are already deeply embedded in the Japanese society, South Korea’s industry is the most robotized in the world, and China aims to become an AI super power by 2030.
Robots and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are rapidly transforming our societies. While robotics is quickly advancing, discussions on fundamental ethical issues, laws and policies lag seriously behind (and are far from being solved). These issues range from end-of-life decisions taken by engineers to defining human-robot relationships. While there has been an emerging literature on ethical challenges of robots and AI, little comparative research has been done on European and East Asian perspectives in this debate.
The aim of this event was to bring together scholars and practitioners from East Asia and Europe to discuss general perspectives and attitudes towards robots and AI as well as ethical aspects. The focus was on technology that already has practical applications, and thus is affecting our societies the most, like self-driving cars and care robots.
The event organizers were the Centre for East Asian Studies in cooperation with the discipline of Philosophy, the Faculty of Science and Engineering of the University of Turku and the Turku AI Society.
For more information
Please contact University lecturer Sabine Burghart at sabine.burghart[at]utu.fi or University lecturer Outi Luova at outi.luova[at]utu.fi.
The Global Faculty consists of 20 invited international members and is the first of its kind in China, and was established with the aim of furthering the internationalization of the activities of PKU Law School.
The appointment was made public at the Global Faculty Inaugural Ceremony held as part of PKU Law School’s International Day 2018 on 19 October 2018.
In a further sign of the strong and growing academic ties between the two institutions, a senior delegation from Peking University, lead by Vice President Tian Gang, has visited the University of Helsinki.
During her presentation, Professor Liukkunen noted that the Finnish China Law Center had for many years received strong input to developing its core activities from the Peking University Law School, which has worked together with the Finnish China Law Center and its member institutions on many research projects, as well as co-organized a number of international academic conferences, seminars and other events.
Professor Liukkunen also underscored her personal gratitude to friends and colleagues in Peking University Law School, including Professor Zhang Shouwen, Professor Ye Jingyi, Professor Li Ming, Professor Liang Genlin, Associate Professor Su Jiang, Assistant Professor Yan Tian and many others whose contributions have led to strong Sino-Finnish cooperation across different fields of law.
In addition, Professor Liukkunen noted that Professor Chen Yifeng of Peking University continues to play a key role in forging strong strategic legal research and education relationship between the universities, and increasingly China and the Nordic countries more broadly.
On 27-28 September 2018, Professor Pia Letto-Vanamo, Dean of the Faculty of Law of the University of Helsinki and a member of the board of the Finnish China Law Center, attended the 2018 annual summit of the New Silk Road Law Schools Alliance.
The 2018 Annual Summit included academic discussions and a meeting of Alliance deans.
The academic sessions included the book launch of the edited volume by Professor Wenhua SHAN, Professor Kimmo Nuotio, and Mr. Kangle Zhang. Professor Nuotio is Professor of Criminal Law in the Faculty of Law at the University of Helsinki and Kangle Zhang, who also attended and spoke at the Summit, is a Doctoral Researcher in the Faculty of Law of the University of Helsinki.
Professor Zhao Hongrui, Dean of the School of Humanities, Social Sciences and Law of Harbin Institute of Technology, has donated his major work on China, rule of law and national security to the Finnish China Law Center.
The Chinese-language publication, ‘China’s Civilized Rise and Rule of Law in National Security’ (China Legal Publishing House 2015) draws upon his inter-disciplinary research and insights gained in his roles as Vice-President of the WTO Law Institute and President of the One Belt, One Road Economic Security and Rule of Law Institute of the China Law Society.
The event was free and open to the public, and was of interest to a variety of audiences including lawyers, the business sector (including startups and entrepreneurs), students and scholars, as well as to the legislature and policymakers.
Event speakers included Professor Li Mingde, Director of the Intellectual Property Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a key Chinese partner of the Finnish China Law Center.
Other key speakers included ShengHongsheng, Professor of Public International Law at Shanghai University of Political Sciences and Law and Director of the OBOR Judicial Research Institute at the the Supreme People’s Court.
Professor Matti Nojonen, Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the Finnish China Law Center, also spoke.
Registration for the event was not compulsory. For those students who wished to gain 2 ECTS upon the attendance of the whole event, the event organized requested registration by 8 November.
According to the latest figures from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), China filed the most patents of any country worldwide in 2015, with Chinese companies registering more than 1.3 million patents, in 2017, an increase of 14.2% per year since 2015. China’s rise as an economy focused on high-quality development, is a substantially significant economic event.
The expanding range of China’s economic interactions has provoked the most recent attention to China as an emerging superpower. China’s economic successes are impressive enough and deserve attention; they reflect China’s late entry into the international community, in organs such as UN and World Bank. Therefore, it is of vital importance to understand China’s role in the international legal system and to examining possible alterations in China’s foreign policy principles, laws and practices.
The seminar focused on different points:
Discussion of the ongoing reforms in these Chinese legal landscapes and contextualize and compare them to the ongoing reforms that are occurring in the European legal systems.
As Beijing has announced it will take more active role in international affairs, will the China’s traditional conventional role and approach to international law change?
During the meeting, Professor Chen said he was proud of the existing collaboration and expressed CASS Law Institute’s wish to continue to deepen collaboration with ongoing facilitation and coordination carried out by the Finnish China Law Center.
Professor Chen also noted that he was pleased with the outcomes of joint research collaboration, especially labour law research and associated publications.
Professor Letto-Vanamo and Professor Chen approved further collaboration on research and publications. They also agreed to begin preparations for the co-organization of next year’s (10th) joint comparative law seminar.
(Thanks to Dr Yihong Zhang of the Faculty of Law of the University of Helsinki for contributing text for this article).
Aalto University, one of the 10 member institutions of the Finnish Center of Chinese Law and Chinese Legal Culture, will host the Finland-China Business and Investment Summit on 15-16 October.
The Summit will be held in the Aalto University School of Business located at Runneberginkatu 14-16, Helsinki and is being co-organized by the Finnish Chinese Business Council and China Tekway Oy.
The event organizers have requested registration by 5 October. Details on how to register, a list of speakers and contact information for those seeking further information can be found in the program of the event.
Background to the Finland-China Business and Investment Summit
According to the event organizers, China’s belt and road initiative presents increased opportunities for Chinese firms to do business in Finland and Finnish firms to do business in China – the world’s second largest economy and a rapidly growing market. As the closest point in Europe to China – with direct flights to seven cities in China, and with complementary skills – Finland is an ideal place for Chinese firms to start their business in Europe. The Second Finland-China Business and Investment Forum will help you grasp the opportunities this creates.
Based on the success of last year, the Finnish Chinese Business Council, China Tekway Oy and Aalto University School of Business will organize this year’s event with support of the Parliament of Finland, Chinese Embassy to Finland, Business Finland, the Federation of Finnish Enterprises and City of Helsinki.
Delegations of executives and investors from China and many leading executives of Finnish companies are expected to attend the event which will include a business forum and opportunities to take part in industry-focused face-to-face match-making to explore opportunities for concrete business cooperation.
The summit will be held in the morning of 15 October at the Aalto University School of Business. Match-making forums for companies will be arranged in the afternoon. The forums will focus on different industries:
1. Bioeconomy, Energy and Cleantech (Room C331)
2. IT, Networks and Digitalisation (Room A306)
3. Health and Wellbeing (Room A307)
4. Tourism, Sports, Education, and Other (Room A308)
Reflecting a topic increasingly under public debate given the escalating effects of climate change, environmental protection featured prominently during the latest comparative law seminar organized by the Finnish China Law Center and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).
This year’s seminar focused on the environment and a range of other legal and social problems of global significance, as well as on effective responses to challenges raised by the inter-related and deepening processes of globalization and digitalization.
Professor Wen began by noting that the first green revolution was based on high-intensive agriculture, which vastly increased crop yields from the mid-20th century. At the beginning of the 21st century, a discussion has emerged around the need for a second green revolution. This debate has arisen because of the serious issues associated with high intensity farming, including eutrophication and loss of biodiversity.
The second green revolution, according to Professor Wen, urges more environment-friendly and sustainable approaches. Recently, scientists have suggested that the domestication of new crops would promote agricultural diversity and solve many emerging environmental degradation caused by intensive agriculture.
Domesticated crops refer to crops ‘in which the evolutionary process has been influenced by humans to meet their needs’. Professor Wen suggested that genome editing techniques (GETs) could be used as an efficient tool to accelerate the domestication of wild plants to providing enough food and livestock fodder in the future.
However, several legal issues pertaining to the feasibility of domesticating wild plants by GETs need to be addressed. Firstly, what kind of wild crops are to be domesticated and are they subject to existing international treaties such as Nagoya Protocol? Secondly, what will be the role of GETs in the process of domestication? Other questions arise arise, such whether this process should be subject to the current regulatory framework on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in the EU, as well as and the implications of the ECJ ruling on GETs in July 2018.
In another presentation on environmental law, Professor Liu Hongyan of the CASS Institute of Law discussed the development of ecological rule of law in China, noting that political organizations and governmental organizations share the responsibility of supervising environmental protection in the country.
Professor Liu noted that judicial organs also actively facilitate administrative organs in enforcing environmental law. For example, the People’s Congress and the People’s Procuratorate are supervisory organs of the environmental law system and can bring up administrative litigation if needed.
The development of China’s environmental law, Professor Liu argued, has the following characteristics: First, the prevailing view is that China should build its environmental law system according to its own national conditions. Second, the development of the environmental law system is diversified. For example, some localities have become pilot points for new regulations before they are passed as laws. Third, the official position is that the enforcement of environmental law cannot be uniform, but instead should be promoted in different stages.
Professor Eftestøl-Wilhelmsson and Ms Yliheljo argued that there is a political call for a behavioural change in the transport industry towards more sustainable transport solutions, and discussed whether and how information related to emissions from carriage of cargo could be used to trigger environmentally friendly decisions and the use of transport alternatives with the lowest emissions.
Observing that emission information is already used as an instrument to combat emissions from transport in the aviation sector, through the European Emission Trading System (ETS) for example, Professor Eftestøl-Wilhelmsson and Ms Yliheljo argued that transport industries outside the ETS could also use emission information to reach the climate goals set for the industry. The scholars described how this could be done by ‘pushing’ the parties to actively consider the emissions from different transport alternatives. The information might work as a ‘nudge’ towards more environmental and greener choices, with new technology providing the necessary practical means for measuring the emissions and delivering the results in real time.
Another scholar from the CASS Institute of Law, Lin Xiaoxiao, analyzed the environmental damage compensation regime in China.
Professor Lin observed that the legal regime of public-interest environmental litigation is mainly reflected in the revision of the Procedural Law of the Civil Litigation. However, because other laws that are relevant to environmental litigation have not been revised, it is unclear how the laws should be interpreted in public-interest environmental litigation. Recently, there has been some new legislation that regulates public-interest environmental litigation, including the Land Law.
At present, the legal regime of public-interest environmental litigation has the following characteristics: (1) The purpose of environmental litigation is to determine environmental liabilities; (2) Procedural regulations are becoming more comprehensive; and (3) Substantive legal rules need to be complemented.
Public-interest environmental litigation is usually brought by environment groups, with leading cases including the Taizhou Public-Interest Case and the Dezhou Air Pollution Case.
Professor Lin said that the current legal regime of public-interest environmental has the following problems: (1) The piloting proposal of reforming the regime of ecological environmental damage cases issued by the State Council is not fully consistent with current legal regulations: (2) The definition of ecological environmental damage is not clear; and (3) It does not provide sufficient legal basis for plaintiffs’ claims for compensation.
In addition to environmental law, the seminar covered rule of law, legal reforms in the context of the emerging Internet-based ‘sharing’ economy, trends in Chinese and Nordic labour law and social welfare systems and civil law issues.
The Finnish Center of Chinese Law and Chinese Legal Culture, an umbrella organization of 10 Finnish member institutions with global partners in the Nordic region, China and beyond, conveys its warmest wishes for this year’s Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节).
‘On behalf of the Finnish China Law Center and its member institutions, I hope our friends and colleagues in China – and throughout the world – enjoyed a rewarding holiday period with friends, family and their loved ones’, says Professor Liukkunen.
‘The book focuses on aspects of the so-called ‘New Silk Road’ Initiative that we thought deserved more attention, such as issues relating to culture and legal philosophy, environmental law and protection, social responsibility, and the rule of law, judiciary and the role of lawyers’, Professor Nuotio says.
Opening remarks were delivered by Dr Harriet Lonka of the University of Eastern Finland and Tiina Lampisjärvi, Executive Director of the Finfood – Finnish Food Information.
A keynote was delivered by Dr Xiao Pinghui.
Dr Xiao is a senior lecturer at Guangzhou University Law School and a researcher (Sam Walton Scholar) affiliated to the Law School at the Center for Coordination and Innovation of Food Safety Governance of Renmin University of China. Since 2017 he has served as an officially accredited mentor of the National Food Safety Law Publicity Program launched by China Food and Drug Administration.
Another keynote was given by Professor Katja Weckström Lindroos.
Professor Weckström Lindroos is Professor of Commercial Law at UEF Law School, University of Eastern Finland. She specializes in intellectual property and international trade law with an emphasis on regulating emerging markets.
On 22 August 2018, the Finnish China Law Center, in collaboration with the Faculty of Law of the University of Helsinki, hosted a guest lecture titled ‘China’s Arctic Policy – The ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative and the Nordic Countries’.
China published its first Arctic Policy White Paper in January 2018 following years of preparation, including an introduction of a proposed ‘Polar Silk Road’. Prior to this, China joined the Arctic Council as an observer in 2013 and included the Arctic region in its Vision for Maritime Cooperation under the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative in June 2017.
What does it mean that China’s so-called ‘Belt and Road’ initiative has entered the Arctic region? How is this likely to affect potential Arctic investment and trade and influence legal developments?
This lecture will focus on China’s Arctic engagement, cooperation with the Nordic countries (including through the platform provided by CNARC), and its impact on Arctic developments in an evolving world order.
The event will be of interest to researchers, policy-makers, civil servants and those from civil society, as well as business people with an interest in both the Arctic region and in China’s overseas activities.
The event was free, open to the public and registration was not necessary.
About the speaker
Dr Kopra is a specialist on China and environmental responsibility. Her publications include academic articles and popular science texts on China’s climate policy, Arctic governance, sustainable development and international environmental responsibility. Her professional positions include Postdoctoral Researcher in the Aleksanteri Institute and Member of Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS), both located in the University of Helsinki.
About the book
Based on a premise that great powers have unique responsibilities in international society, Dr Kopra’s book explores the way China’s rise to great power status transforms the notions of great power responsibility in general and in the context of international climate politics in particular. The book produces empirical knowledge on the Chinese party–state’s conceptions of state responsibility and the influence of those notions on China’s role in international climate politics.
Regarding theory, the book builds on and contributes to the English School of International Relations and argues that the international norm of climate responsibility is an emerging attribute of great power responsibility. The book also discusses the way China will act out its climate responsibility in the future and ponders broader implications of China’s evolving notions of great power responsibility for climate change. Thus, it seeks to shed new light on the transformations China’s rise will yield and the kind of great power China will prove to be.
Until 30 August 2018, the Finnish University Network for Asian Studies (Asianet) was collecting information about ongoing or recently completed research on projects on Asia for the 2018 edition of its annual catalogue ‘Academic Research Projects on Asia in Finland’.
He says the publication was an international effort that aims to shed light on under-explored non-trade normative aspects of China’s epic global infrastructure project, as well as the initiative’s socio-legal implications.
‘The book focuses on aspects of the so-called ‘New Silk Road’ Initiative that we thought deserved more attention, such as issues relating to culture and legal philosophy, environmental law and protection, social responsibility, and the rule of law, judiciary and the role of lawyers’.
‘Given the scale and importance of the ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative, we also felt it necessary that the book generate critical insights into how the project could or should develop and be better regulated’, Professor Nuotio says.
The book was also edited by Professor Shan Wenhua, one of China’s leading scholars on the ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative.
Professor Shan is founding Dean of the School of Law and founding Director of the Silk Road Institute for International and Comparative Law (SRIICL) at Xi’an Jiaotong University.
Doctoral Researcher Zhang Kangle of the Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki, also co-edited the publication and authored a chapter on the relationship between China’s new financial institutions and the country’s global strategy.
Dr Guilherme Vasconcelos Vilaca, also of the Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki, contributed a chapter on ‘Strengthening the Cultural and Normative Foundations of the Belt and Road Initiative: The Colombo Plan, Yan Xuetong and Chinese Ancient Thought’.
‘It’s important for the Center to build inter-institutional and person-to-person relationships across the Nordic region and between the Nordic region and the rest of Europe’.
‘Strong relationships with our European partners complement the Center’s network of partnerships in China’, Professor Liukkunen says.
‘I look forward to working with the Center’s Director, Assistant Professor Piotr Grzebyk, to exchange information and experience about conducting China law-related research and education, and to explore deeper forms of inter-institutional cooperation’.
Professor Kimmo Nuotio, Chair of the Center’s Board, welcomes this initiative. ‘I have noticed rising interest in China in Polish academic circles. I visited the University of Warsaw just few weeks ago on other matters, and I was impressed about the work being done there’.
The collaboration was discussed during a visit to Finland by Maximilian Piekut, Deputy Head of the Polish Research Centre for Law and Economy of China.
The goal of the Center’s activities is to enhance the quality of legal research in Poland and better implement innovative solutions in legal research for the benefit of science, business and society.
The School of Law and Economy of China, established in 2018 under the framework of the Polish Research Centre for Law and Economy of China, offers year-long interdisciplinary courses to students of all faculties, entrepreneurs and senior-level managers as well as representatives of state and local administration in charge of cooperation with their Chinese counter-parties.
The School’s program is designed to build up knowledge and understanding of the Chinese legal system, economy, culture and language.
The Center is strongly committed to respecting privacy and protecting personal data.
To these ends, and to ensure the Finnish China Law Center’s records are accurate, from 25 May 2018 the Center will delete from its electronic databases all personal data it holds about people who have subscribed to receive email updates from the Center.
The Center will also delete personal data which has been provided to the Center as part of the process of registering to attend an event organized or hosted by the Center.
In addition, the Center is taking a range of other steps to protect personal data and to ensure compliance with the EU General Data Protection Regulation, enforcement of which begins on 25 May 2018.
The Center is based in and uses the physical and digital infrastructure of the University of Helsinki. Therefore, the Center operates under the University of Helsinki’s data protection statement.
‘The Center is proud to contribute to an important academic and social discussion within the Nordic region about the role and significance of law in China, and China’s increasing involvement in global affairs’, Professor Liukkunen said.
For Professor Liukkunen, the strength of Nordic China Law Week 2018 lay in the breadth and relevance of themes covered, the wide appeal of events to both the public and private sectors, and the involvement of scholars and participants from China, the Nordic region and other countries.
‘That the events during the Week were so well-attended testifies to the fact that Nordic interest in Chinese law and the Chinese legal system continues to grow’, Professor Liukkunen said.
‘I was particularly pleased at the diversity of participants during the Week. While the focus was primarily scholarly and academic, the organizers were careful to balance law, theory and concrete practice. This was important, including because of the Nordic business community’s deepening engagement with China’.
‘As Nordic China Law Week 2018 was organized to take account of both academic and practical perspectives, its events attracted participants not just from Nordic and Chinese academia, but also from legal practice, the Finnish corporate community – including entrepreneurs from Finland’s thriving startup scene, which is increasingly engaging with China – as well as participants from NGOs, international organizations, the media and the diplomatic community’.
‘For example, over 10 nationalities were represented among the more than 80 registered participants in the China Law Research Workshop. Startup founders, ambassadors, students, Finnish government representatives, leading Nordic scholars and representatives of multinational corporations discussed how to research and apply Chinese law, including the practicalities of doing field work and conducting business in China’, Professor Liukkunen said.
‘The Center is grateful to Professor Jukka Kola, Rector of the University of Helsinki, for his support of Nordic China Law Week 2018, including through holding a Rector’s Reception after one of the Week’s flagship events, the China Law Research Workshop, hosted by the Dean of the Faculty of Law, Professor Pia Letto-Vanamo’.
The conference will focus on issues related to the so-called ‘Belt and Road Initiative’, a major international development and infrastructure project of the Chinese government and a signature policy of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Four themes will be addressed during the conference: (1) The legal and sustainability significance of the BRI (2) National, regional and global dimensions (3) Specific fields of law and sustainability; and (4) Practitioners’ legal perspectives.
‘From the beginning, the Finnish China Law Center has received significant input to developing its core activities from the Peking University Law School, which has worked together on many research projects and co-organized a number of international academic events with the Center and its member institutions’, Professor Liukkunen said.
‘I would like to congratulate in particular my friends and colleagues from Peking University Law School, including Professor Zhang Shouwen, Professor Ye Jingyi, Professor Li Ming, Professor Liang Genlin, Associate Professor Su Jiang, Assistant Professor Yan Tian and many others whose contributions have led to strong Sino-Finnish cooperation across different fields of law’.
‘Assistant Professor Chen Yifeng has also been instrumental in building the strategic relationship in legal research and education between the University of Helsinki and Peking University, and more broadly between legal academia in China and the Nordic countries’, Professor Liukkunen said.
The round-table discussion was held as part of Nordic China Law Week 2018, and was attended by scholars from 10 universities in Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway.
The event was was open to those affiliated with universities or research institutions in the Nordic region whose research or teaching relates to the law and China (including Chinese law, comparative law involving China, and China’s engagement with international law).
Professor Pia Letto-Vanamo, Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Helsinki, chaired the meeting, which provided a forum in which scholars shared their China law-related activities and plans.
Forms and possibilities of inter-institutional collaboration at a general level were explored during the two hour-long gathering.
Scholars also discussed Nordic-wide involvement in events being organized by the Faculty of Law at the University of Helsinki and the Finnish China Law Center, including the 9th Bilateral Seminar on Comparative Law with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) (Beijing, September 2018).
As a result of the meeting, discussions are continuing between Nordic institutions about better coordinating the region’s approach to China law research and education and promoting knowledge and awareness of Nordic legal models and systems in China.
The meeting was one of many events organized during Nordic China Law Week 2018, with others including:
To mark the end of Nordic China Law Week 2018 (17 – 23 April), Aalto University and the Finnish China Law Center hosted a half-day seminar on ‘What People Management Practices Work Best in China Today? Cultural and Legal Perspectives’.
The event, held during the 40th anniversary of China’s ‘Reform and Opening Up’ reforms, brought together academics from management and legal backgrounds, as well as Peter Vesterbacka, one of Finland’s leading entrepreneurs and business figures, to provide interdisciplinary insights and explore developments in contemporary people management practices in China.
Presentations and ensuing discussions were had against a backdrop in which China is the second largest country in the world in terms of GDP and in light of ever-increasing entry of Finnish firms into the Chinese market.
A challenge facing Finnish firms, whether it be a smaller startup or larger multinational corporation, is that there are legal and cultural differences between Finland and China. These differences mean that many Finnish people and firms find it challenging to understand what management practices work best in China.
The event highlighted how, as China’s economy continues to grow and diversify, new opportunities and challenges are emerging.
During her presentation on fundamental labour rights and corporate social responsibility in China, Professor Ulla Liukkunen, Director of the Finnish Center of Chinese Law, outlined various legal considerations, including a range of Chinese labor laws based on international standards, that affect how businesses operating in China manage their workforce.
The event concluded with a panel discussion on ‘The Future of People Management in China: Educational, Political, Economic and Legal Considerations’, featuring all the seminar’s presenters.
Following the seminar was reception and networking event, during which Mr Vesterbacka and the other presenters discussed the themes of the event in more detail with participants.
The seminar was one of many events organized during Nordic China Law Week 2018 (17 – 23 April 2018), with others including:
As was the case with the first Workshop, the event was attended by a diverse range of people. The over 80 registered attendees of more than 10 nationalities included university scholars, think tank researchers, diplomats, students, lawyers, those working in business (ranging from large multinational corporations to startups), entrepreneurs and government representatives.
Professor Julie Yu-Wen Chen, Professor of Chinese Studies and Director of Confucius Institute at the Faculty of Arts at the University of Helsinki, discussed the relationship between culture and research involving contemporary China.
Professor Matti Nojonen (University of Lapland), Deputy Chair of the Finnish China Law Center, drew upon his experience in China and ongoing research when talking about the ‘Intersections of Economics, Business and the Law in China: Implications for Legal Research’.
Another well-received presentation at the Workshop was given by Post-doctoral Researcher Dr Yihong Zhang (University of Helsinki), who drew upon her academic background and experience as a corporate lawyer in China when speaking on the China’s Company law regime.
The Workshop ended with Rector’s Reception hosted by Dean Letto-Vanamo, which provided an excellent opportunity for speakers and participants to network and have in-depth discussions about the themes covered during the Workshop.
On 18 April 2018, the Finnish China Law Center and the University of Helsinki, one of the Center’s 10 member institutions, hosted a guest lecture by Assistant Professor Yan Tian of the Peking University School of Law on ‘How Important is China’s Constitution in the Chinese Legal System?’
Assistant Professor Yan shared three Chinese constitutional law prospects. First, constitutionally-based judicial review would likely not be feasible. Second, legislative review of the legality of administrative regulations may be much more robust. But such review has nothing to do with China’s constitution. Third, Chinese citizens might employ ‘constitutional discourse’ much more than previously.
But two main uncertainties remain, Assistant Professor Yan said. First: Will the NPC interpret and implement China’s constitution, and if so, how? Second: Will the Chinese state tolerate constitutional discourse, especially when such a discourse may be framed against the state?
Following his lecture was a robust discussion among participants on the implications for Chinese law and legal theory of the recent constitutional changes, prospects for constitutionalism in China, and a broader discussion of other developments in the Chinese political/legal system.
Professor Cheng’s keynote presentation addressed issues including the economic logic of the ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) initiative, value choices of its trade governance and the OBOR Initiative’s institutional and legal arrangements.
‘After assuming office, President Xi Jinping emphasized the value of global governance research’, Professor Cheng said.
‘Since the proposal and implementation of OBOR, China has introduced a number of new terms associated with global governance, such as ‘connectivity’ and ‘three communities of common destiny’. Collectively, these terms form China’s unique ideology on global governance’.
Professor Cheng said that OBOR is the largest regional cooperation initiative ever, covering Asia, Europe, and Africa.
‘At one end is the active East Asian economic circle, and at the other is the developed European economic circle, collectively involving over 60 countries, 60% of the global population, and a third of the world’s gross domestic product’.
Professor Cheng said that OBOR ‘respects the existing rules and frameworks of the multilateral system and has not been established to disrupt this system’.
‘On the contrary, China remains one of the strongest supporters of the existing multilateral system’.
At the same time, Professor Cheng argued that ‘based on the principles of the World Trade Organization (WTO), China should establish OBOR trade governance theories that supplement, subdue, and innovate existing multilateral trade governance theories’.
‘The advancement and progress of OBOR should perpetually abide by WTO rules and accept the constraints established by the WTO’, Professor Cheng emphasized.
Professor Cheng concluded by noting that OBOR is a national trade strategy and does not contain mandatory laws.
‘Therefore, the existing rules of the WTO provide institutional support for OBOR’.
After briefly outlining the historical evolution of intellectual property (IP) law in China, Professor Jin discussed a number of leading cases and disputes, including Michael Jordan v. China TRAB and Qiaodan Sports Co., Ltd and Xian XidianJietong Wireless Communication Co., Ltd (IWNComm) v SONY mobile communication products (China) Co. Ltd. (Beijing Intellectual Property Court, 22 March 2017).
Professor Jin also explored recent reforms of Chinese IP law, including: specialized IP Courts in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou (2014); over 20 other IP tribunals around China; a piloted guiding case system in the Beijing IP Court (in practice reflecting the principle of precedent and stare decisis in common law jurisdictions); and the possibility of a uniform appellate IP court.
The information session was attended by representatives from some of the Center’s member institutions, and focused in particular on the use of CNKI (Tsinghua University) and LawInfoChina (Peking University).
The Center provides access to LawInfoChina to its member institutions. More information about the LawInfoChina service offered through the Finnish China Law Center can be found on the Center’s blog.
In addition, later this year the Center will start a trial of certain CNKI products relating to legal research. During the trial, the Center’s member institutions will have access to these CNKI products. The dates of this trial will be informed on the Center’s blog when they have been finalized.
NEWDAY is a training program that addresses current global challenges in a unique social setting. The program emphasizes cultural understanding and cross-cultural communication with classroom teaching, lectures, discussions, socializing, workshops, and excursions, and features lectures by prominent scholars, journalists, and thinkers as well as debates and dialogue between students and teachers on the burning issues of our time.
The main themes of the 2018 include gender and society; media and activism; and climate crisis and environmental degradation.
During her presentation, Ms Zhao discussed the evolution of Chinese intellectual property (IP) mechanisms as China progressed on its national development and transition to becoming a ‘well-developed country’. Ms Zhao approached her subject from the perspective of (IP), with a special focus on the People’s Republic of China since 1949.
Professor Li Mingde strongly recommended that Ms Zhao’s doctoral thesis be accepted. In his comments, he praised Ms Zhao’s thesis on its scope and originality. During a long discussion with Ms Zhao, Professor Li asked many probing questions not only about Ms Zhao’s thesis but more broadly about the current state of Chinese IP law, the challenges facing China’s IP system and the enforcement of IP rights, the roles of administrative and judicial IP right enforcement, and the prospects for its future development.
In her closing comments, Ms Zhao thanked those who have supported her during her thesis, including her thesis supervisor Professor Niklas Bruun (University of Helsinki / Hanken School of Economics).
This thesis explores the evolution of Chinese IP mechanisms during national development and transition to becoming a well-developed country. This subject is studied from the perspective of intellectual property (IP), with a special focus on the People’s Republic of China since 1949.
Internationally, the Chinese State, as a late-developing country, has adopted various mechanisms to narrow its gap in income and in technological capability in relation to developed countries. Meanwhile, internally, China itself is going through a crucial stage of social transition, and switching its economic model from labour-intensive mode to high-tech and innovation-intensive mode. During China’s international ‘catch-up’ process, and its own social transition, the role of IP has constantly changed.
This research on China’s IP covers a period of the late Qing Dynasty until early June 2017, especially focusing on the period after 1949 and the modern Chinese IP system since its Reform and Opening-up Policy in 1979. The reviewed literature covers: (1) Chinese IP-related legislation and policies; (2) the domestic and international academic IP studies; (3) research reports from international organizations; (4) central reports from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, other reports and speeches from the central government with a historical period start from 1933; and (5) IP-related annual reports and statistics from the State Intellectual Property Office and the various levels of the people’s court.
This thesis combines the narrative approach of Chinese IP studies, law in context, and historical perspective, and specifically studies the question: ‘what is the IP system’s role in the catch-up process of China?’ The main research question is divided into sub questions: How does the development of the IP system and the national Science and Technology (S&T) integrate with each other (Chapter 2)? How is the IP system absorbed into Chinese society? The absorption of an IP system is explored via two aspects: one imperative aspect is the evolution of IP system from the perspective of enforcement (Chapter 3); and the other is how the IP system from the state level involved has impacted on the Chinese business players (Chapter 4). The manuscript concludes: Even though external pressures played an undeniable role during Chinese IP development, which can chase back to the 19th Century, China has been constantly advancing its IP system and its implementation mainly because of its internal and developmental needs since 1949 (Chapter 5).
The outcome of this thesis summarises the three decades of Chinese modern IP development and its enforcement in the following way: an advanced legislation system that goes along with the international standards, an enforcement system with Chinese characteristics, and an administrative system for registration and examination focusing mainly on the domestic industries yet taking international practices as reference. China’s adjustments of the IP policies are ultimately determined by the overall objectives for catching up and building an innovative country. China updates its IP system strictly in line with its level of national S&T development. Based on the internal and international conditions, it is a selected development model from China’s side to emphasize IP reform and modernization.
Professor Li, from the Intellectual Property Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), is a leading expert on IP law. In his presentation he discussed the latest developments in the reform of Chinese copyright law as well as recent developments in other fields of IP. The experience from the specialized IP Courts and the background of the recently established new IP Courts in Shenzhen and Xi’an was also addressed. Finally, Professor Li discussed the reform of the administration on IP-related issues, including the changes of the role of the Chinese SIPO.
The newly-established Sino-Finnish Research Center for Science, Technology and Innovation (Sino-Finnish STI Center), co-founded by Finnish China Law Center member institution the University of Vaasa and the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Strategy and Development, held an International Forum on Energy Transition during Vaasa EnergyWeek (19 – 23 March 2018).
The International Forum on Energy Transition was held from 8:30-15:30 on 20 March 2018 at Vaasa City Hall (8:30-12:30) and Fabriikki F118, University of Vaasa (13:30-15:30). The event was free and open to all.
Full program and list of speakers
The purpose of the International Forum on Energy Transition was to engage policy makers, research experts and industrial practitioners from China and Europe to discuss energy transition activities and related policies policies. By doing so, the organizer’s hoped to promote international cooperation between China and Europe towards green growth.
Speakers at the Forum included Dr Jari Kuusisto (Rector of University of Vaasa), Pan Jiao Feng (President of Chinese Academy of Sciences Institutes of Science and Development), Professor Bai Quan (Vice-Director of the Energy Efficiency Center, Energy Research Institute, National Development and Reform Commission), Joakim Strand (Member of Parliament of Finland), Guo Xiaoguang (Counselor of Chinese Embassy to Finland) and more.
The full program and list of speakers can be found here.
About the Sino-Finnish STI Center
The aim of the new Sino-Finnish STI Center is develop a think tank supporting policy makers and business in Europe and China. The Center’s mission is to address environmental and societal challenges and promote economic growth by means of conducting policy studies on science technology and innovation.
The Kone Foundation, an independent non-profit organisation with a mission to make the world a better place by advancing initiatives in research and the arts, offered two 4 to 6 month-long scholarships to conduct research in China. The cut-off to apply for those scholarship was 28 March 2018.
The Finnish member universities of the Fudan Nordic Center are the University of Helsinki, the University of Eastern Finland, Hanken School of Economics, the University of Lapland, the University of Tampere and the University of Turku. All of these universities are also member institutions of the Finnish Center of Chinese Law.
The scholarship program is intended to support and expand China-related research conducted in the Finnish universities. The aim is to stimulate researchers to expand their research focus towards research connected with China and to facilitate longer research periods in China. When possible and relevant, doctoral candidates can attend teaching offered by the Fudan Nordic Centre.
Further information and application process
More information about the scholarships, including the full Call for Applications and instructions on how to apply, can be found on Asianet’s website.
Scholars revisited discussions of the Chinese model of governance and articulate the old and new features of Xi Jinping’s model of governance. Most current research on the China model debates whether there is such model, and the characteristics and essences of the model if it exists. This conference discussed, from a variety of perspectives including critical empirical case studies, the various manifestations of the Chinese model of governance, ranging from local governance, local election, civil society to economic policies.
Opening Remarks were given by Professor Julie Yu-Wen Chen of the University of Helsinki. Keynote speakers at the conference were Oscar Almén, Uppsala University, Sweden, and Zhongyuan Wang from Fudan University, China.
‘We will continue to widen and deepen our international relationships in the upcoming year, during which we have planned an exciting array of events and activities on Chinese law and legal culture in Finland and China’.
ELSA is an international, independent, non-political and non-profit organisation run by and for students and recent graduates interested in achieving academic and personal excellence in addition to their legal or law-related studies at university.
Dean Letto-Vanamo is a legal historian and comparative lawyer specialized in European legal history, history of European integration, Nordic legal culture(s) and transnational law, with a strong interest in Chinese law and Chinese legal culture.
During her opening speech at the event, Dean Letto-Vanamo delineated the history of comparative law and Chinese legal education and scholarship in Finland, and underscored the increasing importance of understanding Nordic law not just in its European context, but from the global perspective, including in comparison with Chinese law.
Professor Liukkunen spoke about the Finnish China Law Center’s role in facilitating and promoting China law and comparative law research, and about the increasing Nordic-wide approach to Chinese legal education and research. During her presentation, Professor Liukkunen also drew upon her research in Chinese law and comparative law involving China, and highlighted the importance of taking local conditions and culture into consideration when conducting comparative research with Chinese law.
Dr Zhang, who lectures at the University of Helsinki and is responsible for its popular annual summer school program in Chinese law, drew upon her academic and professional experience in China when discussing the Chinese legal system in a comparative context, including its foundations, sources of law, the way law is applied and enforced, and current legal ‘hot topics’ in China.
A short discussion followed Dr Zhang’s presentation, during which time students asked questions about China’s criminal justice system and the rule of law in China.
The Center strongly encourages students – and anyone else – interested in Chinese law and legal culture to follow its blog, Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Questions about Chinese law can be directed to the Coordinator of the Center, Stuart Mooney, at stuart.mooney (@) helsinki.fi.
Luova’s current research investigates how China’s environmental governance is imbued with local experiments and variation. She has found that enforcement of environmental regulations varies greatly.
‘There are striking differences in enforcement between the bureaucratic North and flexible South, and the wealthy East and less-developed West’, Luova says.
‘The recent re-centralization efforts and stricter environmental policy enforcement have not been effective in diminishing variation because of strong local interests and weak capacities in many cities’.
According to Luova, slack enforcement means that there can be large diversity in implementation even among sub-municipal units in a city.
‘It is therefore very important to pay attention to regional variation when dealing with China’.
‘Mega-city districts are nowadays powerful actors. With sub-municipal variation remaining unexplored, my recent research project has analysed the implementation of environmental policies and regulations in three urban districts in the city of Tianjin’, she says.
In conducting her in-country research, Luova has faced increasing challenges in obtaining official documents and arranging interviews with Chinese civil servants as a result of a ‘tightening political atmosphere’.
‘I have been able to conduct interviews only thanks to my simultaneous participation in official sister-city delegation visits to Tianjin’, Luova says.
‘During my visits to China, I arranged focus-group interviews at city and district level departments of education and environmental protection. I also had a possibility to visit several so called “green schools” in Tianjin and get acquainted with local environmental NGOs’.
In addition to urban governance in China, Luova’s teaching and research interests include regional cooperation in East Asia, domestic migration in China, management of international labour migration in China and East Asia, ethnic issues in China and more generally, regional features and differences in China.
Luova’s research on regional differences in the implementation and enforcement of environmental law and policy in China, ‘Environmental policies enter the educational sector: Different shades of green at district level’, will be published in Greening China’s Urban Governance: Tackling Environmental and Sustainability Challenges (Jørgen Delman, Ren Yuan, Outi Luova, Mattias Burell, Oscar Almén eds) by Springer in 2018. Other related publications are also in the pipeline.
The Joel Toivola Foundation is an independent Finnish foundation supporting Finnish academic studies on China.
The Foundation awards grants for talented young scholars in the fields of humanities and social science research on China, as well as for Finnish students’ Chinese linguistic studies in China.
The last deadline for applying for grants, including Research Fellowship and travel funds, closed on 15 February 2018 at 16:00.
Further information on the grants and detailed application instructions can be found on the Foundation’s website.
For further information on the Joel Toivola Foundation, please contact Foundation’s Executive Director, Mr. Mikko Eskola at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Joel Toivola
According to the website of the Joel Toivola Foundation, Ambassador Joel Toivola (1915-1999) worked for the Finnish Foreign Service in several important posts for more than three decades. He is especially remembered as a great friend of China and throughout his career encouraged relations between Finland and the People’s Republic of China. Mr. Toivola served as the Ambassador of Finland to Beijing from 1961 to 1967.
Sanna Villikka, acting Head of Administration of the Faculty of Medicine, was also part of the Rector Kola’s delegation.
Ms Villikka visited China in her former capacity as Senior Advisor in Research Funding Services at the University of Helsinki’s City Centre Campus. The purpose of her trip was to develop staff exchange between the University of Helsinki and Peking University, to further enhance the University of Helsinki’s relationship with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and to emphasize the high esteem with which the University of Helsinki views its relationship with the Faculty of Law of Peking University.
Professor Nuotio was invited to give public lectures at universities across the country, including Peking University, the University of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Wuhan University, Shandong University, and Wuhan University of Technology.
Professor Nuotio also gave a presentation at the Chinese Academy of Social Science’s annual international Rule of Law conference in Beijing.
In addition to her many academic and professional responsibilities, including serving as a Commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists, Professor Petman also visits and lectures at the prestigious Peking University Law School on a regular basis.
The CIMO project, the result of an application made by Kangle Zhang, was jointly managed by several staff of the Faculty of Law of the University of Helsinki prior to its conclusion at the end of 2017.
During its two years of operation, the project facilitated a range of successful activities that deepened collaboration between the Faculty of Law of the University of Helsinki and Peking University Law School.
The end of 2017 also saw a flurry of visits from China to Finland.
These inbound visits included two delegations in November alone.
These include a China Law Workshop (Helsinki, April – tbc), the 9th Bilateral Comparative Law Seminar (Beijng, August – tbc) with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and the 6th China-Europe Legal Forum with the China Law Society (Helsinki, November – tbc).
Follow the Finnish China Law Center on Twitter (@ChinaLawCenter) and Facebook (@ChinaLawCenter) to keep up-to-date with the latest news, events, publications and other activities of the Center and its member institutions.
The event’s keynote speech was given by Jean-Philippe Béja of the Centre national de la recherche scientifique & Centre de recherches internationales, who spoke on ‘Liu Xiaobo’s Legacy: Life in Truth, the Magic Weapon Against Post-Totalitarian Lie’.
Other speakers included Hermann Aubié (Aston University), who spoke on ‘Unlearning Enmity and Hatred: Listening to Liu Xiaobo’s Voice of Conscience by Revisiting his Struggle for Human Dignity and a Future Free China’ and Fu Hualing (University of Hong Kong), who spoke about public interest lawyering in China.
Professor Panu Minkkinen of the University of Helsinki spoke about the significance of human rights in the context of critical legal theory, after which Eva Pils (King’s College, London) discussed ‘China’s Dual State And Its ‘Enemies’ Under Xi Jinping’.
Professor Jan Klabbers of the University of Helsinki discussed ethical leadership, drawing upon his research on virtue ethics, and Post-Doctoral Researcher Guilherme Vasconcelos Vilaça’s (University of Helsinki) talk covered values and China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative’.
The 2017 conference, held on 17–18 November in Beijing, was divided into five thematic areas.
Professor Viljanen spoke on the theme ‘The Rule of Law, Constitution and State Governance’.
In his lecture, Professor Viljanen discussed the Finnish experience on amending the constitution, noting that Finnish constitutional laws were extensively reformed in 1980-90’s.
This progress was illustrated by the drafting of the 2000 Constitution. The Constitution was planned to endure over time and as the Constitutional Law Committee has stated, there should not be constant demand to review the Constitution.
Professor Viljanen outlined how the threshold to make changes to the constitution has increased. In order to make changes a wide societal consensus must be achieved. In Finnish political history, there has been a tradition of coalition governments and a requirement that approval by two parliaments, with general elections between them, is required. This ensures that all parties are involved in the drafting process of the Constitutional amendments.
‘The contemporary approach connects each review of the constitutional provisions to fundamental principles of the Constitution’, Professor Viljanen observed.
‘At the same time, it also highlights the need to follow our international human rights commitments’.
As Professor Viljanen explained, even in the case of surveillance laws, there are no ‘free hands’. Rather, national application of laws goes hand-in-hand with European supervision. The level of scrutiny is, of course, different in each specific circumstance.
In his talk, Professor Viljanen also explained the pending process of amending the constitution in relation to surveillance laws, a ‘hot topic’ in Finland at the moment. The review was founded on the requirements set out by the European Convention on Human Rights.
‘National security as a legitimate aim traditionally affords a wide margin of appreciation to national authorities’, Professor Viljanen said.
‘However, there are also limits to this margin’.
In order to make the working proposal to be in line with the European case law, the failures that took place, for instance, in the Russian case of Roman Zakharov, serve as a telling reminder for the Finnish legislator.
‘This means that in addition to the textual re-formulation of the Constitution, the practice of the Constitutional Law Committee should follow closely the standards set out by the Strasbourg Court’, Professor Viljanen said.
‘The idea of the constitutional amendment is not to provide unrestricted mandate’, Professor Viljanen argued during his talk.
‘Rather, it is to seek a solution to questions regarding surveillance that are in accordance with European standards. This doctrinal link sets out certain detailed requirements that should be taken into account while preparing ordinary legislation regarding the surveillance’.
‘The Strasbourg Court’, Professor Viljanen said in closing, ‘acknowledges efforts to follow the established case law by stating that there needs to be “strong reasons” to substitute views of domestic authorities with its own views’.
Dr Harriet Lonka, from Finnish China Law Center member institution the University of Eastern Finland (UEF), was a visiting Post-Doctoral Researcher at Peking University from 1 October to 17 November 2017.
‘My research in China focused on the new Chinese Food Safety Law. This legislation is an important milestone in China’s legislative reforms and also a key issue concerning trade policy and China’s relations with its international trade partners, especially the WTO’.
During her time in Peking University Law School, Dr Lonka worked closely with Chinese legal scholar Professor Chen Yifeng.
Dr Lonka has a long background in the field of risk management studies, and during her PhD studies she studied the Finnish government’s Security Strategy work and how it effects the shaping of legislation.
‘Chinese Food Safety legislation is comparable in its target and format to the risk regulation tradition in Europe and in Finland’, Dr Lonka says.
‘In my current research, I focus on the aspects of the implementation of the law that have been identified as potential ‘Achilles heels’ of enforcement of the Food Safety Law in China’.
Dr Lonka believes that there are new and interesting challenges in applying measures of risk surveillance, risk management and risk communication at different levels of administration in China.
Given the angle of her research, she envisages many more opportunities for fruitful research cooperation with Chinese colleagues in the future.
Dr Lonka’s research was also supported by the fact that she had contacts to the local level administration and foodstuff producers in Hunan Province, which enabled useful data collection in the field.
The opportunity to conduct research not only in Beijing, but also in Hunan Province, was beneficial in many respects, Dr Lonka says.
‘My study visit provided me a lot of important background knowledge and new understanding of Chinese legislation, how it is created and implemented. This is of great interest to me as my own research field is legislative studies. Legislative studies concentrate on how laws are drafted and implemented and what defines their effect’.
One area of particular interest to Dr Lonka is the question of ‘decentralized development’ in China.
‘I would wish to better understand the structures and mechanisms for guidance and supervision from the central government level to provinces and further to the local level in China’.
‘The study of Chinese Food Safety Law provides an excellent case study to scrutinize these phenomena. I think this research focus can help us in general better understand the ‘many faces of China’ and how that effects the legislative processes and implementation of the administrative laws in the country’.
A six-person delegation from Beihang University, headed by Professor Long Weiqiu, Dean of the Law School, visited Helsinki last month to sign an MOU with the Faculty of Law at the University of Helsinki and to discuss future collaboration.
‘The establishment of a Nordic Law Center in Beihang University Law School is an excellent idea. It provides an opportunity to build on our common interests, and we look forward to a fruitful collaboration’ , Professor Nuotio says.
Based in the Faculty of Law of the University of Eastern Finland, a member institution of the Finnish China Law Center, Professor Hakalehto gave a presentation titled ‘From Social Problem to Rights Holders: Development of Children’s Rights in legislation and in legal research in Finland’.
According to Professor Hakalehto, the conference proved an excellent opportunity to discuss in-depth a range of issues of critical, and growing, importance to both China and the Nordic countries.
‘China is grappling with many of the same challenges as Finland the Nordic countries, including how to fully respect the rights and interests of children’, Professor Hakalehto says. ‘The chance to meet and share knowledge with Chinese colleagues working on these issues proved beneficial to both sides, and provided an enlightening comparative framework through which to develop the law and policies of our respective countries’.
A child law and education law scholar, Professor Hakalehto is a member of the Scientific Committee of the Center and one of her forthcoming projects with the Center concerns the position of migrant children in China.
‘Contemporary Chinese welfare ideology and policies aim at negotiating and merging the traditional family concept and beliefs expressing a hundred years’ development and the modern civilization of late’, Professor Hakalehto says.
‘For me, learning about the Chinese legal system and the country’s child protection paradigm has been personally enriching and professionally rewarding’, says Professor Hakalehto. ‘I hope to contribute to the Chinese discussion about the legal position of children’.
During her visit in October 2017 to the Center, Professor Hakalehto met Professor Lu Zhian, a Professor of Law at the Fudan University School of Law.
One of China’s leading scholars in the field, Professor Zhian invited Professor Hakalehto to Fudan University in 2018 to lecture on human rights in the school environment.
‘This is a great opportunity, and I look forward to another exciting visit to China and to learning more about the Chinese legal system and Chinese cultural generally’, Professor Hakalehto says.
The signing paves the way for cooperation on legal research and education between the two institutions, and opens the door to collaboration between Beihang University and the other nine members of the Finnish China Law Center.
A six-person delegation from Beihang University, headed by Professor Long Weiqiu, Dean of the Law School, visited Helsinki to sign the MOU and discuss future collaboration.
Given the Center’s role in supporting China law-related initiatives across the Nordic countries, the establishment of relations with Beihang University Law School and creation of the Nordic Law Center opens up new avenues across the region for China law and comparative law activities.
Beihang University Law School houses a number of specialty units concerning areas of potential Sino-Nordic collaboration, including:
Internet Information Security & Rule of Law Research Center
Law and Technology Development Center
IP Law and Law of Science and Technology Institute
Space Law Institute
Aviation Law Institute
Spectrum Law and Standard Research Center
Insurance Law Institute
Scientific Evidence Law & Experiments Research Center
Another institution of the Law School is the Research Base of Beijing Technology Innovation Center (Beijing Social Science Base).
Dean Long’s lecture introduced the motivations, conditions and bases of the current codification of civil law in China, and discussed the controversies regarding the framework and other crucial matters.
Dean Long also commented on the relationship between the new civil code and the existing civil law system in China, and shared his thoughts on the prospects for future codification.
Within the course application courses were listed in two categories.
1. Asian Programme and Mini Minor
You can study BASIC COURSES offered in the Asian Programme such as Business in East and Southeast Asia or Contemporary East Asia. In the Asian Programme you have the possibility to do a 25 ECTS minor subject. These BASIC COURSES are also used as the foundation for the Mini Minor (10 ECTS to complete the minor), which lets you concentrate in more depth on one thematic aspect such as business or society.
If you want to take individual courses you can apply for the various Master’s Level Courses offered by Asianet. This includes courses such as Introduction to Mongolian Politics and Society or Business Environment in Japan and South Korea. This spring we have two brand new courses: China-US relations – Asian Security and Chinese Working Places Cultures.
Upon his return, the Finnish China Law Center took the opportunity to discuss with Dr Hodzi his experience as Visiting Scholar at one of China’s best universities, and to learn more about his current research into Chinese politics and law.
Finnish China Law Center: Congratulations on your appointment as a Visiting Scholar at Renmin University. Before we discuss that experience, could you please say a little about your background?
Dr Hodzi:I’m aPostdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Cultures at the University of Helsinki. Before joining the University of Helsinki, I was a visiting scholar at the Institute for Peace and Security Studies, Ethiopia. I have also worked for various international and regional organizations in my home country of Zimbabwe, as well as Kenya and Germany on projects about democratic governance and transitional justice.
Finnish China Law Center: Can you explain your main research interests?
Dr Hodzi: I’ve long had an interest in China’s international political and legal engagement, including in relation to Africa. I obtained my PhD from a Chinese university, Lingnan University in Hong Kong, where I researched political and legal aspects of China’s military engagement in Africa. My current research focuses on emerging powers and global governance. In particular, I look at China-Africa security relations and politics in Africa, including the domestic and legal implications of China’s engagement.
Finnish China Law Center: How was your research assisted by working as a Visiting Scholar in China?
Dr Hodzi: Having lived and worked and lived in both China and different Africa has given me a more nuanced understanding of the different political and legal cultures and orders at play across China and throughout Africa. I’ve come to appreciate that reading, discussing and researching about China is nothing compared to seeing it in real life! This certainly was my realization during my research in mainland China. Being able to discuss with scholars, practitioners and other relevant actors in China – both Chinese and from other countries – enriched my research and has opened new avenues of future collaboration for which I am very grateful.
Dr Hodzi: This theme is timely and important, and it connects directly with my current and future work. Over the next two years my research focus will be on the Chinese model of development and governance in Asia and Africa. As China gets comfortable in its global primacy role, all roads are leading to Beijing. In the jostling for a piece of the China cake, there is obviously bound to be conflict and contractions regarding international law. For instance, this is seen in the case of the South China Sea dispute, as was discussed during the China Research Day and Asian Studies Days events, as well as anti-dumping measures against Chinese companies. I would also say that security issues will become even more important for both China and other countries as Chinese firms and citizens go abroad.
Finnish China Law Center: You are helping organize a Conference on the so-called ‘Chinese model’ of governance next year. What thematic ground will be conference cover, and why is the conference important?
Dr Hodzi: The Confucius Center at the University of Helsinki is organizing the Helsinki Conference on Chinese Model of Governance. It will be held on 20 March 2018. During the conference, scholars from Finland and abroad will re-visit discussions of the Chinese model of governance. The old and new features of President Xi’s model of governance will be discussed at length. The conference is important because the bulk of contemporary scholarship on the ‘China model’ questions whether such a model even exists. And even those who acknowledge the existence of such a model debate its characteristics. In light of this ongoing debate, the conference will discuss the various manifestations of the Chinese model of governance. These manifestations range from local governance, local election, civil society to economic policies. A particular strength of the conference will be its interdisciplinary nature, using a variety of perspectives such as critical empirical case studies. I’m already excited about it! We have great keynote speakers, too: Oscar Almén, Uppsala University, Sweden, and Zhongyuan Wang from Fudan University, China.
Finnish China Law Center: Finally, we understand that your book will be published shortly. Congratulations, and could you please say a little about it?
Dr Hodzi:My book, The End of a Non-intervention Era: China in African Civil Wars, will be published by Palgrave Macmillan (London) next year (fall 2018). I hope that it will help set the research agenda on emerging security issues emanating from China’s going out strategy. China is moving, and taking the world with it!
The theme for the seminar was ‘Juvenile Offenders in China and Finland’.
The Chinese delegation was headed by Mr. Li Xuesong, Vice President of the High People’s Court of Yunnan Province. Mr Lu Xiaokun, Chief Judge of the High People’s Court of Yunnan Province, was also a member of the delegation.
During his presentation, Vice President Li underscored that the treatment of children and the centrality of the ‘best interests of the child’ principle are paramount. ‘Governments everywhere’, he said, ‘should take care of children and strive to create better conditions, including educational opportunities, to promote the healthy development of youth’. Vice President Li also emphasized that the treatment of juvenile offenders by the criminal justice system was an issue the Yunnan legal system takes very seriously. Yunnan province has advanced the protection of children in its criminal justice system in a number of ways. ‘For example’, Vice President Li said, ‘we are strengthening judicial institutions and training judges to better deal with juvenile justice issues…and constantly innovating to improve the treatment of children in the court system’.
Professors Nuotio and Lappi-Seppälä noted that while there were differences between the Chinese and Finnish approaches to juvenile offenders, the similarities in terms of underlying principles and many aspects of the treatment of juveniles in court were notable.
During his presentation, Lappi-Seppälä gave an overview of the ‘Nordic’ model of the treatment of juvenile offenders, noting that the state criminal justice system operates independently alongside municipal child protection services, with the primary emphasis in dealing with juvenile crime lying with child welfare and social services.
Professor Lappi-Seppälä noted that the criminal justice system and child welfare institutions operated under different principles. ‘Child welfare interventions are undertaken under the principle of the ‘best interests of the child’, Professor Lappi-Seppälä observed. ‘All such interventions are supportive and criminal acts have little or no formal role. In contrast, on the ‘criminal justice side’, specific penalties applicable to juveniles are restricted – but now expanding – and the general structure is as follows: diversion, fines, community alternatives, and the finally, custody’.
During their presentation, Professors Nuotio and Lappi-Seppälä shared a number of statistics about juvenile offenders in Finland. Of particular interest to the Chinese judges was the fact that at present, there are only five children aged 15-17 in custody in Finland, a figure so low that it also surprised those more familiar with Finland’s legal system.
The importance of the visit to Finland by senior judges should not be underestimated. The delegation visited Finland to learn from its experience because of Finland’s, and more generally the Nordic region’s, international reputation in reducing the total number and proportion of juvenile offenders, and to reducing to virtually zero the number of children in custody. As Professor Nuotio noted, the population of Yunnan province, at close to 50 million, was around double that of the all the Nordic countries together. Given the size of Yunnan province, even a small change in judicial practice, therefore, would affect the lives of a great many children.
The theme of this year’s events was China-US Relations and Asian Security. The theme was timely given the concurrent visit of US President Donald Trump to Asia, which included a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The backdrop to the meeting of the two presidents, and to the theme of this year’s China Research Day and Asian Studies Days, is the relative stability of East Asia over the last few decades. Despite historical grievances that have affected intra-regional relations politically, economic inter-dependencies have made the region’s actors seek cooperation rather than conflict.
However, as was highlighted throughout the two-day event, recently there have been indications that the situation may be changing. China’s actions in the East and South China Seas have been regarded by some commentators as increasingly assertive. The Trump presidency has introduced a heightened level of tension in China–US relations. And the bold nuclear and missile tests by North Korea have heightened the risk of a military confrontation in the region.
During her welcoming words and introductionJulie Chen, Professor of Chinese Studies at the University of Helsinki and Director the Confucius Institute of the University of Helsinki, provided the packed venue with an overview of the broader theoretical and political context in which security tensions in the Asia/Pacific region are being experienced.
The calibre of speakers, as well as the timeliness and importance of the main theme, meant that over 130 people participated in the events. Professor Shi was also interviewed by the Finnish television station MTV3.
As Professor Ulla Liukkunen, Director of the Finnish China Law Center, said during her speech at the reception, the official City of Helsinki reception not only underscores the importance of bilateral legal education and research cooperation between Finland and China, but highlights the special, long-term relationship that exists between the capital cities of Helsinki and Beijing.
The University of Tampere, a member institution of the Finnish Center of Chinese Law and Chinese Legal Culture, has established a knowledge hub focusing on Chinese and Russian media: the Tampere Research Centre for Russian and Chinese Media (TaRC).
TaRC’s opening seminar was held in the University of Tampere (Pinni B Building) in November 2017.
TaRC draws on knowledge and experience from different professional fields and pursues a multidisciplinary approach in the areas of media and cultural studies. TaRC aims to:
• advance new areas of research;
• develop international projects;
• provide education in a multilingual environment;
• facilitate understanding and knowledge exchange between East and West.
The University of Lapland, a member institution of the Finnish Center of Chinese Law and Chinese Legal Culture, is widely recognized as a leader in education and research on Arctic issues, including Arctic law.
The University’s Arctic Centre, located in the northern Finnish city of located Rovaniemi, is a national and international hub of information and a center of excellence.
The Centre conducts multidisciplinary research into changes in the Arctic region, including on environmental and minority law and Arctic governance. Members of the Arctic Centre staff serve as experts around the world.
The Arctic Centre is a member of the European Polar Board, an independent European Organization of Directors and Managers of the major European National Polar Programmes.
CNARC’s purpose is to provide a platform for academic cooperation to increase awareness, understanding and knowledge of the Arctic and its global impacts, as well as to promote cooperation for sustainable development of the Nordic Arctic and the development of China in a global context.
One of the key research themes for CNARC is Arctic policy-making and legislation. This is an increasingly important issue given the impacts of climate change in the Arctic, questions concerning the use of Arctic resources, and challenges and opportunities associated with economic cooperation and shipping in the Arctic.
CNARC holds annual Symposia on issues of relevance to its mandate. This year’s symposium took place in Dalian, China, from the 24 – 26 May 2017 under the theme ‘Towards the Future: Trans-regional Cooperation in the Arctic Development and Protection’. Thematic sessions included Europe-Asia connectivity, the relationship between the Arctic and non-Arctic regions, and global governance of the Arctic Ocean.
More broadly, the University of Lapland was a pioneer of China-law related education and research in Finland. Its ongoing China law-related education and research activities and achievements can be found in the Finnish China Law Center’s recently published Report on its First Four Years (2013-2016).
ECLS has over 300 members from across the world who are dedicated to ECLS’s goal of advancing comparative and interdisciplinary research on Chinese law.
The election of Professor Liukkunen is recognition of the efforts of the Finnish China Law Center and its ten member institutions, as detailed in the Center’s recent Report, in advancing China law research and education in Finland and the Nordic countries.
Professor Liukkunen joins a small group of internationally-renowned China law scholars on the Board of Directors.
A key initiative of the ECLS is its annual conference, which brings together leading scholars from Europe, China and other regions to exchange knowledge and experience on Chinese law. These conferences also serve as an important platform for research collaboration. The 2017 conference was held in Leiden and focused on helping young scholars improve their international careers and develop their methodological skill set when researching Chinese law.
Questions about the activities of the ECLS can be directed at the Finnish China Law Center (stuart.mooney (at) helsinki.fi) or to the ECLS itself.
On 28-29 August 2017, the Finnish Center of Chinese Law and Chinese Legal Culture organized the 8th Sino-Finnish Bilateral Seminar on Comparative Law. The seminar is held annually and its location alternates between China and Finland. This year the seminar was hosted by two of the Finnish China Law Center’s member institutions, the University of Helsinki and University of Tampere.
Both of these well-respected academics have had long connections with the Finnish China Law Center. The seminar also brought together researchers from universities across Finland, including active representation and participation from most of the Center’s 10 member institutions.
Strengthening Finnish – and Nordic – bilateral cooperation
According to Professor Li Lin, this year’s seminar was a ‘tremendous success’. A sentiment repeated throughout the seminar was the importance of further deepening legal education and research collaboration between not just Finland and China, but China and other Nordic countries.
As was underscored by Professor Li Lin, Professor Kimmo Nuotio, Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Helsinki, and Professor Ulla Liukkunen, Director of the Finnish China Law Center, the long and rich historical relationship between Finland and China provides fertile ground in which deepening cooperation can flourish.
The importance of strengthening bilateral legal education and research between Finland and China transcends the historical connections linking the two countries.
Professor Li Lin highlighted four key areas of mutual concern. First, there is significant alignment between China’s values and ideas and the concept of solidarity in the Nordic context. Second, there is overlap between the goals of China and Finland’s social security systems, with China seeking to actively learn from the Nordic welfare model. Third, environmental rights are an area of mutual concern, with China transitioning towards ‘Green China’ and emphasizing the importance of having an ‘ecological civilization’. And fourth, the rule of law, human rights and judicial cooperation are areas of joint interest.
While China’s legal system has changed significantly in these respects, there ‘still remains much to be done’, Professor Li Lin said.
Seminar co-organizer Professor Jukka Viljanen from the University of Tampere echoed these thoughts. He observed that it is important that we recognize Finland and China face common issues, which can be fruitfully approached from a comparative law perspective.
The seminar tradition is not simply a unique opportunity for the robust exchange of views on areas of mutual concern. Rather, it has also been a practical forum that may result in new bilateral research projects, like the one on law and gender, as Professor Liukkunen underscored.
In China, the bilateral seminars and resulting collaboration impacted on policy-making. Professor Li Lin noted that ‘the exchange of knowledge, experience and expertise have manifested themselves in reports that have influenced Chinese decision makers’.
‘So while this is an academic platform’, Professor Li Lin said, ‘it has a practical impact on development of rule of law in China and its modernization. It has a real impact’.
Among other concrete proposals for expanding the relationship between CASS and the member institutions of the Finnish China Law Center, Professor Li Lin said CASS’s new university provides an additional ‘platform to further expand our cooperation’.
Thematic areas of the seminar
This year’s seminar covered four legal fields. Focusing on such a multidimensional spectrum of issues provided rich opportunities for comparative assessments. Comparisons were made not just between Finnish and Chinese law and legal practice, but with the Nordic legal model more broadly.
The second thematic area covered was transport law. Professor Ellen Eftestöl-Wilhelmsson from the University of Helsinki spoke on the role of environmental information in promoting a sustainable transport industry. Associate Professor Li Zhong from the CASS Institute of Law gave an overview of developments in Chinese transport law in China. Lastly, Professor Lena Sisula-Tulokas adroitly drew out common themes, parallels and challenges facing both Finland and the Nordic countries.
A third thematic area analyzed was public procurement. University Lecturer Dr Kristian Siikavirta shared his knowledge of the European and Finnish public procurement systems and how they work based on his research at the University of Vaasa.
Associate Professor Wang Xiaomei presented her impressively data-driven research undertaken in the CASS Institute of Law into transparency in public procurement in China. In her comments, Post-Doctoral Researcher Dr. Zhang Yihong, based in the University of Helsinki, identified broader political/legal implications of the presentations and highlighted areas of further research.
Environmental law was the final area to be discussed. This was clearly a field of significant mutual interest. Professor Antti Belinskij, based at the University of Eastern Finland, discussed international Water Conventions and Finnish-Russian cooperation. Professor Li Honglei from the CASS Institute of Law spoke on judicial review of environmental impact assessment decision-making in China. In summing up, Dr Yulia Yamineva drew upon her experience as a Senior Researcher in the University of Eastern Finland and provided comments drawing together both comparative and international law dimensions.
Other presentations on environmental law were given by Professor Jukka Viljanen, who enlightened listeners on the environmental right in the Finnish constitution. Professor Viljanen’s talk provided a departure point for another visiting CASS Institute of Law researcher, Associate Professor Jin Shanming, to reflect on the constitutional protection of environmental rights in China. University Teacher Heta Heiskanen from the University of Tampere then highlighted how international human rights obligations contribute to environmental rights in Finland. Finally, Post-Doctoral Researcher Sanna Kopra from the University of Lapland identified key comparative law insights that formed the basis of a subject of lively discussion among participants on environmental rights in China and Finland.
Upcoming book publication
Reflecting the high quality of speeches and discussions over the two days, presentations given during the seminar will form the basis for chapters in an upcoming book to be published by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
The annual bilateral seminars play an important role in building legal research and education links between Finland and China. With such positive outcomes, this year’s seminar paves the way for future opportunities for Finnish and Chinese universities and research institutions to collaborate.
As Professor Liukkunen emphasized in her closing remarks, the seminar again highlighted the relevance of comparative law including the growing significance of the Nordic model in Chinese policy and academic circles.
‘We make comparisons’, Professor Liukkunen concluded. ‘We must realize that what appear to be similar can in fact be different. We need to have tools and equip ourselves to deal with obstacles and challenges in this undertaking, for which this seminar is a unique setting’.
Next year’s bilateral comparative law seminar will be held in China.
On 7 September the Finnish China Law Center welcomed a visiting group from Zhejiang University, China. The group was headed by Lin Ka, Professor Social Policy and Social Work, and the group’s visit to the Finnish China Law Center was hosted by its Director, Professor Ulla Liukkunen.
This visit was something of a homecoming for Professor Lin, who lived in Finland and worked as a Doctoral Researcher (1994-1999) and Research Fellow (1999-2002) in one of the Finnish China Law Center’s member institutions, the University of Tampere. Later, Professor Lin worked as a Senior Researcher (2003-2006) in the University of Turku, another of the Center’s member institutions.
During the group’s visit, Professors Lin and Liukkunen discussed a wide range of legal topics including the value of conducting comparative law between China and the Nordic states, recent developments in Chinese labour and social security law, and the increased interest in Chinese academic and policy circles about the Nordic welfare model.
Professors Liukkunen and Lin also discussed concrete ways to strengthen the relationship between Zhejiang University and the Finnish China Law Center and its member institutions.
Zhejiang University, one of China’s leading research and education institutions, has relationships with a number of Finnish China Law Center member institutions. These include a mobility agreement between the Zhejiang University School of Management and the Hanken School of Economics and an institutional partnership with the University of Turku. More information about Zhejiang University’s relationship with the Center’s member institutions can be found in the Center’s recent report.
The Helsinki Summer School Course: Law and Society in China took place at the Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki in August. The course was coordinated and taught by the Finnish China Law Center’s postdoctoral researcher Dr. Yihong Zhang, together with guest lecturers from the United Kingdom (Professor Eva Pils), Italy (Dr. Flora Sapio) and the Hong Kong SAR (Professor Chao Xi). This year is the first time that the Helsinki Summer School offers a course on Chinese law. Students from nine different countries and three continents have participated in this two-week intensive course.
The course provides a unique exposure to research and scholarship on the Chinese legal system. It covers a wide range of legal areas, including criminal justice, corporate social responsibility, company law, foreign investment law and securities regulation, etc. One student of the course, Steffen Schwardmann, who is studying Political Science and Sociology at the University of Kassel said that “The broad range of topics made the course immensely informative.”
The course highlights the comparative value of learning about the Chinese legal system. Another student of the course, Amanda Allcock, who is studying law at the King’s College London said that the course helped her to “place China’s legal system in a global context and use my own understanding of UK law to compare and contrast.” She also recognized that the course has allowed her “to critically analyze both systems and look to future developments.”
On the pedagogical side, the course has encouraged open discussion and teamwork among students. Every student had the chance to give a short presentation in class, thereby demonstrating their understanding of the assigned course materials. Through the combination of individual student presentation, teacher-guided discussion and teamwork, students have learned to articulate their ideas and communicate with other participants of the course.
The Helsinki Summer School has also arranged a series of social activities to give participants the opportunity to get to know each other and to explore the capital area of Finland during their spare time. Such activities included, for instance, evening on an island, wildlife and sauna trip to the scenic Nuuksio national park, and a fun open air event that gave participants a taste of the Finnish culture.
We believe that the students of this course will continue to use the knowledge and skills they have obtained at the Helsinki Summer School. We look forward to having the next Helsinki Summer School course on Chinese law in the near future. The Helsinki Summer School 2018 will be arranged 7.8.-23.8.2018.
The Finnish Center of Chinese Law and Chinese Legal Culture is pleased to welcome Stuart Mooney as its new Coordinator.
Stuart brings to the role a long background in China and Chinese law. In both his Bachelor of Laws (Honours) (Australian National University) and Master of International and Comparative Law (University of Helsinki), Stuart focused on law in China and China’s relationship with international law. Stuart studied Chinese law during a six month exchange to the Faculty of Law, University of Hong Kong, and wrote his undergraduate law thesis on China’s Law of Contracts.
During his Masters studies at the University of Helsinki, Stuart worked as a Research Assistant in the Finnish China Law Center and helped edit books on China’s implementation of international labour law.
Stuart has also lived and worked in mainland China, having taught for a year at the Nanyang Institute of Technology, Henan Province.
‘It’s a privilege to coordinate and support Chinese law-related research and education in Finland’, Stuart says. ‘The Finnish China Law Center is a unique institution internationally.’
‘I look forward to continuing its pioneering work and to further strengthen relationships between Finnish and Chinese universities and research institutions.’
‘I’m also excited to help forge new relationships with Chinese and international partners to facilitate deeper bilateral collaboration across different legal fields’.
Stuart replaces Iina Tornberg, a doctoral candidate in the Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki. ‘I have big shoes to fill’, Stuart admits. ‘I hope to support the Center’s member institutions and continue to cooperate closely with our Chinese counterparts, including the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Institute of Law, Peking University, Renmin University and Wuhan University’.
‘I warmly welcome and encourage inquiries about the Center, potential collaboration, and questions about bilateral Sino-Finnish legal issues generally’.
Based in the Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki, Stuart can be reached at stuart.mooney (at) helsinki.fi.
The lecture, titled ‘Biased Securities Regulators? Evidence from China’, was introduced by Professor Ulla Liukkunen, Director of the Finnish China Law Center.
In his presentation, Prof. Xi discussed the much-debated question of whether securities regulators are sensitive to considerations that extend beyond the ‘mere merits’ of a case. While this question has received attention in the United States, little is known about the determinants of enforcement actions taken by regulators of Chinese securities markets.
Why is this important? Among other reasons, because the Chinese securities market is the second largest in the world.
During a stimulating presentation and discussion, Prof. Xi discussed his empirical research that involved manually collecting a new dataset on all so-called ‘disclosed’ securities enforcement actions, both formal and informal, taken against securities violations by Chinese securities regulators between 1998 -2016.
Prof. Xi’s research demonstrates that larger Chinese firms, those controlled by the state, those that are more politically embedded, and firms that cooperate more closely with securities regulators, are less likely to be targeted by regulatory enforcement actions. In addition, when these types of firms are targeted, they are more likely to fare better.
On the other hand, Prof. Xi’s research revealed what he considered a ‘counter-intuitive finding’: that closer personal bonds between people working in Chinese firms and securities regulators are likely to reduce the severity of enforcement actions, but are unlikely to minimize the likelihood of being targeted in the first place.
During his visit to Finland, Professor Chao also taught in the University of Helsinki Summer School Course, ‘Law and Society in China‘, coordinated and taught by the Finnish China Law Center’s postdoctoral researcher Dr. Yihong Zhang.
A delegation from the Sichuan Academy of Social Sciences (SASS) visited the Finnish China Law Center on June 21, 2017. Kimmo Nuotio, the Dean of the Helsinki University, Faculty of Law and Chair of the Center’s Board, and Ellen Eftestöl-Wilhelmsson, Professor of Civil and Commercial Law at the University of Helsinki, hosted the delegation together with the Center’s staff.
Being the first visit by SASS to the China Law Center and the University of Helsinki, the purpose of the visit was mainly to develop mutual understanding and talk about potential future cooperation. Mr. Hou Shuiping, President and Professor of SASS, introduced SASS, a research institute and a highly influential think tank in Sichuan province, and its main areas of research. Mr. Hou then expressed interest in exploring research cooperation in the areas of trade, transportation, education and technology with the Helsinki side.
Dean Nuotio gave a brief introduction about the China Law Center and the University of Helsinki and its China connection. He also touched upon the China’s Silk Road initiative that Mr. Hou also mentioned earlier, noting that the University of Helsinki, Faculty of law was one of the founding members of the recently launched New Silk Road Law Schools Alliance.
Prof. Eftestöl-Wilhelmsson then introduced her area of expertise. Her most recent research, as a part of InterTran Research Group for Sustainable Business and Law at the University of Helsinki, is in the field transportation – more specifically, the sustainability of transportation in Europe. Both sides expressed interest in exploring the Sino-Finnish and Sino-European aspect and research cooperation on this topic.
The visit was a successful beginning to develop further cooperation between the two sides. Each side gained deeper knowledge about the other, and many points of mutual interest were found. After the visit to the University of Helsinki and the China Law Center, the SASS delegation continued to explore the beautiful sights of the Helsinki city centre.
Articles from the Symposium on Finnish and Chinese Criminal Law in Comparative Perspective (Finnish-Chinese Colloquium on Criminal Law) published by Peking University Law Journal are now available online!
In August 2016, the University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law hosted the First Finnish-Chinese Colloquium on Criminal Law on through the PKU-Helsinki Law Connection, a partnership between Peking University Law School and University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law.
The topics presented at the Colloquium were compiled into research papers, which the Peking University Law Journal has now published. You can view the available articles by following the links below:
Professor Liu Zuoxiang, Director of the Institute of Rule of Law and Human Rights at Shanghai Normal University, College of Philosophy, Law and Political Science, held a lecture titled “The Relationship between Party Regulations and National Law” at the China Law Center on May 30, 2017. After Prof. Liu’s lecture, Zhang Kangle, doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law and research fellow at Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights, commented on Prof. Liu’s research.
Currently, there is an ongoing academic debate in China on whether or party regulations applied to the members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) may be considered national laws. Some scholars have argued that party regulations are in effect national laws. In his presentation, Prof. Liu demonstrated how party regulations and national laws are distinct from one another.
In a country run by the rule of law, the political party is not a legislative body – national laws must be based on the Constitution. The regulations or “norms” assumed by the party for its members cannot therefore be regarded as binding laws on the whole population. The role of the party is to ensure that its ideals, beliefs and aims are realized, enabled through self-discipline and strict administration of its members. Party rules are therefore applied only to party members in order to restrict their behaviour and ensure the members’ commitment to party ideals. The national law, on the other hand, is the basis of conduct for all citizens and embodies the will of the country, and therefore cannot be as strict and ideals-based as the rules for party members.
Yet, party rules can also be made into laws through a legislative process. Indeed, much of the regulations of the CCP have actually become national law, which may be the source of confusion between the two. Since the reform and opening up policy in the late 1970s, the CCP has been the main organ to pass laws. However, all laws passed by the party must first go through the National People’s Congress. Such power dynamics demonstrates that while being the organ to exercise state power, the party is still constrained by the Constitution, the will of the people and the rule of law.
Even though there are clear distinctions between party regulations and national law, there is still much confusion around the topic. One solution, proposed by a government official, is to apply a model of two governance systems, one for the party and another for the country. The two-system solution would clarify the application of party regulations and national laws and improve the party’s capacity to govern the country. Yet, challenges considering such an approach have arisen – for instance, whether party regulations should be applied over national law or vice versa, or whether or not the violation of party regulations, if not considered as legal code, should be punishable by law.
The distinction of party regulations and national law is a very timely topic, and Prof. Liu’s attempt to shed light on the ongoing debate in China was fascinating indeed. The development of the relationship between party regulations and national law will be interesting to follow, and is an issue that China watchers, researchers and those interested in the rule of law development in China should keep an eye on.
Prof. Shen Wei, Dean and Professor of Law at Shandong University Law School, donated his latest book, Shadow Baking in China: Risk, Regulation and Policy (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2016), to the Center’s Library during his visit to the Center. He also gave a lecture on arbitral awards enforcement in China during his stay (read the summary of the lecture here).
Shadow Baking in China: Risk, Regulation and Policy by Prof. Shen is a timely publication. China’s shadow banking sector is about one third the size of China’s bank-lending market, and its continuing growth presents a challenge to both domestic and global financial stability in the long term. In his book, Prof. Shen defines the concept of shadow-banking, breaks it down into sub-sectors, and discusses the development of each, including wealth management products, peer-to-peer lending, local government financing vehicles, and underground lending. The book examines the driving market forces behind the sector’s growth, exploring the risk-taking dynamics, economic incentives and behavioural aspects. Prof. Shen also presents the formal state frameworks, including central and monetary policy and the supporting structures, and discusses the role, opportunities and regulation of shadow banking in the overall economy.
Prof. Shen’s book Shadow Baking in China: Risk, Regulation and Policy is now available at the China Law Center’s Library.
Prof. Shen Wei, Dean and Professor of Law at Shandong University Law School and KoGuan Chair Professor of Law at Shanghai Jiao Tong University Law School, and Global Professor of Law at New York University Law School. Prof. Shen has a career as a long-time law practitioner, focusing on FDI, private equity and M&As. He has studied abroad and holds multiple Master’s degrees in law and a PhD from London School of Economics. He has published over 130 articles in English and Chinese and is the author of multiple books in his field. Prof. Shen is an arbitrator with Hong Kong International Arbitration Commission, Shanghai International Arbitration Centre, Shanghai Arbitration Commission, Shenzhen International Court of Arbitration, and is a member of the Moody’s China Academic Advisory panel as well as the Financial Markets Law Committee’s G20 Steering Group.
The Center has recently received multiple book donations from the CASS delegation as well as individual authors who have paid a visit to the Center. The books include titles on various topics in the judicial sphere, including IP, employment, arbitration, rule of law theory, criminal law, death penalty and history of Chinese legal philosophy.
The books have been taken to the Center’s Library for registration and will be available for consultation shortly. You can browse all the available books online at or pay a visit to the Library!
Shangdong University Law School, ranked 13th of over 700 law schools in China, will open its new campus in autumn 2017 in Qingdao, a small half-island between Beijing and Shanghai. Qingdao is a student-friendly area, famous for its long beaches, good beer, beautiful scenery and historical sights. The new campus, alongside the seashore of Aoshan Bay and the coastal highway, is a modern mix of Chinese and western building styles, with incorporated elements from the German colonial architecture in Qingdao. In addition to brand-new university buildings, student dormitories and convenient public transport connections right outside the university area, the campus will operate its own arts museum and a beautiful sports complex.
Prof. Shen is looking forward to start as the Dean of the Law School at the new location, and believes the opening of the new campus at Qingdao presents a good opportunity for new cooperation initiatives. Until now, cooperation between the Shangdong University Law School, the University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law and the China Law Center has been built on lecture exchanges and participation in each other’s research seminars. At his visit to the Center, Prof. Shen discussed the continuation of such cooperation with Director Liukkunen, and introduced ideas for new forms of cooperation. During his meeting with Dean Nuotio, the two deans discussed further possibilities of student exchanges between the two universities.
In an interview with the China Law Center, Prof. Shen shed light on the reasoning behind his wish to see Chinese students in Finland. “If you look outside,” Prof. Shen says, pointing to the beautiful view in the city centre of Helsinki, “it is very impressive. If Chinese students could be here for one semester and get exposed to a different legal culture, and different culture in general, they would benefit them in terms of shaping their vision for their future career and development.” The legal system in Nordic countries has raised interest in China for its emphasis on human rights protection, which is quite different from the Chinese legal culture that focuses more on collective action and collective interest. “It will be very interesting for our students to have exposure in Nordic countries. It will be good for them to spend a semester here, especially since human rights protection is one of the areas of expertise our faculty as well.”
Prof. Shen himself is an expert of business law, yet he views human rights protection as an all-encompassing topic in the field of law. “Not only human rights law is relevant to rights protection. Property rights protection, commercial rights protection, even enforcement of arbitral awards – all is relevant to rights protection.” The paper he will present at the Center is on enforcement of arbitral awards in China. “Investors who come to do business in China don’t expect the legal competence, transparency and functionality from Chinese courts that they do from courts in other countries. They prefer to resolve disputes with local parties through arbitration instead of relying on the court system.” Through arbitration, foreign parties are likely to get a favourable outcome. However, as local parties lack the willingness to enforce the arbitration awards voluntarily, foreign parties still need to rely on Chinese courts for enforcement. “In the end, foreign parties still rely on Chinese courts for human rights protection. So even though we are discussing commercial arbitration and enforcement of arbitral awards, the substantial issue is still about rights protection.”
Prof. Shen is a long-time expert in his field. He has over 10 years of experience as a law practitioner and has published widely on legal topics, including financial regulation, corporate governance, international investment law and commercial arbitration. He has held multiple professorships in various universities, including ones based in Shangdong and Hong Kong in China, as well as in Singapore and New York, and currently works as the Dean of the Shangdong University Law School. Even after the shift to academia, Prof. Shen’s experiences in Hong Kong’s law firms have left their mark, and continue to influence his vision for the future. “The most memorable thing in the private sector law firms was professionalism. People act and behave professionally, which is exactly what we are trying to teach our students.”
Dean, Professor Shen Wei from Shandong University Law School held a lecture titled “Entanglement between Judicial Centralization and Local Protectionism in China: the Case of Arbitral Awards Enforcement” at the Finnish China Law Center on May 23, 2017. During his presentation, Prof. Shen presented empirical data on the internal reporting system in Chinese courts, and whether the system has been effective at tackling local protectionism and discrimination against foreign parties.
The internal reporting system on enforcing arbitral awards involving at least one foreign or foreign-related party was put in place as a part of an effort to combat local protectionism. If local courts make a decision not to recognize and enforce an arbitral award, the case is automatically reported to the provincial court. If the provincial court stays with the decision of the local court, the case is further reported to the Supreme Court for a final revision. The provincial courts may also reverse the outcome and decide to recognize and enforce the arbitral award. None of the cases that are enforced at lower levels are reported to higher levels. The cases that do not get enforced reach the Supreme Court, in which case the judges may choose to reverse the outcome and enforce the arbitral award.
Data published in 2015 by the research institute working under the Supreme Court shows that of the 98 cases involving at least one foreign or foreign-related party that have been reported during twenty years of the system’s existence, only 39 cases have not been enforced after the case had been reviewed by the Supreme Court. Of these 98 cases, 20 were initiated by domestic parties while 78 were initiated by foreign parties.
Prof. Shen’s findings show that while local courts have vested interests to support local parties, the Supreme Court is likely to enforce the arbitral award in favour of the claimant. As unrecognized cases are reported to the higher levels, a discriminative decision by local courts in favour of local parties is likely to be reversed and the award enforced by the Supreme Court. China ratified the New York Convention in 1986, and the Supreme Court is more inclined to follow the obligations assigned by the treaty. The Supreme Court is also more likely to support foreign investment and thus enforce an arbitration award claimed by a foreign party.
The fact that most of the cases are initiated by a foreign party indicates that foreigners are more likely to rely on the internal reporting system to receive a just outcome, whereas local courts are more likely to enforce the claims of domestic claimers. However, the rate of reversed outcomes by the Supreme Court is same both for foreign and domestic initiated cases. Prof. Shen’s analysis also indicates that protectionism is more likely to occur in economically less developed areas, whereas local courts in more economically developed regions have accumulated experience and are less likely to favour local parties.
Overall, China’s centralized arbitration awards enforcement system is a foreign-friendly mechanism. The centralization of decision-making to the Supreme Courts through the internal reporting system has been effective to combat local protectionism and is favourable towards foreign investment. However, transparency still lacks in reporting on purely domestic cases, as cases involving purely domestic arbitrary awards enforcement are not reported to the Supreme Court.
Dean, Professor Shen Wei is a lawyer qualified in New York practicing, mostly in Hong Kong, on foreign direct investment, private equity and mergers and acquisitions. His main research interests include financial regulation, corporate governance, international investment law and commercial arbitration. Professor Shen has published more than 130 articles in Chinese and English journals, and is the author of the books: Rethinking the New York Convention – A Law and Economics Approach (Cambridge: Intersentia 2013), The Anatomy of China’s Banking Sector and Regulation (Wolters Kluwer 2014), How Is International Economic Order Shaped? – Law, Markets and Globalisation (China Law Press 2014), Corporate Law in China: Structure, Governance and Regulation (Sweet & Maxwell 2015), and Investor Protection in Capital Markets – The Case of Hong Kong (Sweet & Maxwell 2015).
Professor Shen is an arbitrator with Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre, Shanghai International Arbitration Centre, Shanghai Arbitration Commission, and Shenzhen International Court of Arbitration. He is also the Global Professor of Law, New York University School of Law, and Adjunct Research Professor at the Centre for Banking & Finance Law (CBFL), National University of Singapore. Professor Shen Wei has visited the Center twice before. In September 2013, he spoke on international investment arbitration in China, and in May 2016, his talk involved with ADR and Arbitration of International Financial Disputes in Shanghai.
Director of the Institute of Rule of Law and Human Rights at Shanghai Normal University, College of Philosophy, Law and Political Sciences, Professor Liu Zuoxiang held a lecture on “Chinese Structure of Social Order in a Period of Transformation” at the Finnish China Law Center on May 17, 2017. The lecture was followed by questions and comments by the discussants Guilherme Vasconcelos Vilaca, Postdoctoral Researcher at the Erik Castrén Institute, University of Helsinki, and Kangle Zhang, Research Fellow at the Erik Castrén Institute, University of Helsinki, who also worked as a translator during the lecture and discussion. After the lecture and initial comments, the audience posed questions and comments and engaged in a lively discussion.
In his lecture, Prof. Liu introduced the traditional social order that has developed in China and compared it to the contemporary one. The traditional Chinese social order was based on the “rule of Li” as opposed to the “rule of law” that exists in the contemporary society. Prof. Fei Xiaotong, a scholar on Chinese social order in the 1940s, described “Li” as a “generally acknowledged and harmonious pattern of behaviour”. The “rule of Li order”, therefore, is one based on traditions and commonly accepted norms, which are not enforced in a top-down manner but by the society itself. Citizens obey the accumulated traditions and social norms out of respect towards the society and to cultivate their moral character and self-constraint. In contrast, a “rule of law order” is maintained by political and state power and is enforced by rules and punishments.
The traditional patriarchal and clan system in China’s rural areas functioned as a source of normative control and unifying force within the community. The clan system was efficient at dealing with issues related to relationships within the clan, in matters related to marriage, property, funerals and the like, and acted as a supportive system to the official state order. However, as the example of Nancun village in Guangdong province demonstrates, patriarchal formations began to break down as a result of rural reforms and the elimination of landlords after 1949. During the second wave of reforms in 1979, state control became more lenient. Some forms of nongovernmental organization re-emerged, but failed to achieve their former authoritative position. Economic conditions improved, the village underwent urbanization, and incentives for social grassroots organization independent of state administration decreased.
Yet, China is still undergoing a transformation from a traditional society and the “rule of Li” to a modern society and the “rule of law”. The case of Nancun village is an example of how traditional order of patriarchal rule and the “rule of Li order” has been replaced by a modern social system, where state power and the rule of law have become the dominant guide for maintaining social order. Indeed, on the institutional level, the contemporary Chinese society has the elements of a modern, “rule of law” state. However, the actual social order has still elements of the “rule of Li” embedded in it, especially in rural areas, where transformation is still taking place. Prof. Li characterizes the current state of the Chinese society as a “pluralistically mixed order”, where order is maintained by the “rule of law” mixed with “rule of Li”, as well as other elements of the traditional Chinese society, such as order based on patriarchy, “rule of virtue” and the “rule of man”. The relationships between people have experienced transformations, but still contain elements of formal and informal ideas of social order.
The coexistence of modern and traditional practices within the contemporary Chinese society point out the complexity of defining the societal structure in explicit terms. The contemporary Chinese society is transforming towards a “rule of law order” and at the same time hold elements of the traditional Chinese order, which makes the current Chinese society pluralistic in nature. Elevated economic wellbeing has replaced tradition and patriarchal relationships as a measure of social standard, a trend further enforced by outside influences amongst the younger generation. However, the traditional order still lies at the basis of the contemporary one, and continues to have a strong influence on it.
Professor Liu Zuoxiang is the Director of the Institute of Rule of Law and Human Rights, Shanghai Normal University, College of Philosophy, Law and Political Sciences. He is also the Vice director of Jurisprudence Institute of Chinese Law Society; Member of branch of Chinese IVR.
Mirva Lohiniva-Kerkelä, Vice Dean of the University of Lapland, Faculty of Law and Associate Professor in Welfare Law, held two lectures on the Finnish model of welfare state during her visit to China in March 2017. Lohiniva-Kerkelä visited Renmin University in Beijing and Fudan University in Shanghai. During both visits, the parties discussed further developing cooperation between the Universities.
The first lecture was held at Renmin University in Beijing, where Lohiniva-Kerkelä was hosted by Professor of Civil and Commercial Law at Renmin Law School, Li Jianfei. The lecture was held on March 28, 2017, on the topic “Fulfilling Social Rights – The Development of Welfare Law in Finland,” in which Lohiniva-Kerkelä discussed Finland’s role as a Nordic welfare state. In the Nordic welfare state model, the state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the social and economic well-being of its citizens. Lohiniva-Kerkelä presented methods used in Finland to guarantee the fundamental human rights of citizens, using instruments such as international treaties, national constitutions, and legislation.
On March 30, 2017, Lohiniva-Kerkelä held her second lecture at the Fudan University in Shanghai, where she was hosted by the Associate Professor of Law at Fudan University School of Law, Lu Zhian. The lecture was titled “Welfare Law and Human Rights,” and circled around the same questions – methods of ensuring basic rights to the population in a welfare state. The lectures at both universities were held to a group of doctoral and post-graduate students. During both lectures, students were eager to engage in a lively discussion on the subject.
Mirva Lohiniva-Kerkelä is one of Finland’s leading experts in social and health care law, widely welfare law. Her expertise covers especially issues of health care rights and the respective responsibilities of the state authorities and professionals in guaranteeing access to health care.
On May 4, 2017, the University of Bergen in Norway celebrated the launch of a Norwegian China Law Centre. The event was opened with a welcoming speech by the Rector of the University of Bergen, Dag Rune Olsen, followed by a presentation on the Centre’s future prospects by the Dean of the University’s Law Faculty, Asbjørn Strandbakken, and Vice Dean for Education, Bjørnar Borvik, at the Faculty of Law. After the opening speeches, future prospects as well as past cases on the development of Sino-Norwegian and Sino-Nordic cooperation were presented and discussed. Speakers and other guests included representatives from the Norwegian Parliament, as well as representatives from the University’s long-time Chinese partners such as Renmin and Fudan Universities, and representatives from universities in Nordic and European countries.
Among the University of Bergen and its Nordic neighbours, the University of Helsinki has been a strong supporter of university-level cooperation in the sphere of China law research. A year ago, in May 2016, representatives from the University of Bergen visited the Finnish China Law Center at the University of Helsinki with the prospects of establishing a similar Centre in Norway. Since the visit, the decision to launch China Law Centre at the University of Bergen has only been a matter of time. The political landscape for launching the Center now, after the normalization of diplomatic and political ties between China and Norway in December 2016 (having been frozen since 2010 after Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize), is undoubtedly more favorable than a year ago, and assures a successful start for the newly launched platform for cooperation.
Dean of the University of Helsinki Law Faculty, and the Finnish China Law Center, Chair of the Board, Kimmo Nuotio, hosted the Norwegian delegation at the Finnish China Law Center with the Center’s Director Ulla Liukkunen last May. Taking part in the ceremony, Dean Nuotio congratulated the Norwegian China Law Centre for its launch and welcomed its cooperation with the Finnish China Law Center. The Chinese partners have been consistently interested in the Nordic region as a whole, and cooperation between Nordic countries in the China dimension would be beneficial to both Norway and Finland, and would be a signal to China of the brotherly relations that the Nordic countries share amongst each other.
Amongst the individuals driving forward Sino-Norwegian cooperation at the university level, Dean Asbjørn Strandbakken, Vice Dean Bjørnar Borvik and Law Professor at the University of Bergen, Ragna Aarli have long been involved in building the University’s cooperation with China. The launch of the China Law Centre at the University marks a great step forward in deepening such cooperation.
Zhao Yajie, a doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law held three presentations on globalization and IP at the First International Young Scholars Forum at the Wuhan University of Technology on April 21-23, 2017. The Forum invited young scholars from around the world to participate in the event to see how China has developed, and to open an academic discussion among young scholars in all fields of studies, including law. More than 120 advanced young scholars from over 36 different countries were selected from over 400 applicants to participate in the Forum. (See the news article in Chinese).
Ms Zhao’s area of specialty, intellectual property (IP), has been marked as one of the century’s “strategic subjects” for China. Considering the increased impact of China’s actions on the global society, the way China handles IP issues is an area of great importance and attention worldwide. In her two presentations on “Globalization and its impact on IP,” one held for a group of Social Science faculties and one for scholars, professors and experts in the field of law, Ms Zhao focused on globalization and the developments of the IP system in the Chinese context. “While it is necessary for China to fulfill the basic international requirements, this doesn’t necessarily mean that China has to go along with the EU and US centered standards on IP administrative and judicial implementations,” Ms Zhao explains in an interview with the China Law Center.
China is at this crucial transition period: its economy is transforming from an exports and labour intensive economic model to knowledge-based economy. Since China’s reform and opening-up policy, China has made great efforts in the field of IP. Its speedy catch-up on international IP norms is very impressive. Its enforcement on IP, both on judicial and administrative protections are visibly improved. However, China has a different historical and cultural context than developed western countries. “Although the Chinese government can transplant an IP system to its country, it doesn’t mean China can automatically adapt an existing model from a different context in its entirety,” Ms Zhao specifies. “On the domestic scale, China is facing its own internal challenges. Furthermore, globally speaking the IP system itself is challenged by systematic insufficiencies in this new digital era, which also needs to be considered by the Chinese government at the implementation stage of a national IP system.”
The third presentation, held to a group of more than 40 Master’s students of Chinese law, focused more on comparison of academic communication and argumentation methods in China and abroad. Under the title “Globalization and the Internationalization of China IP studies,” Ms Zhao lectured students on the differences in academic writing and argumentation between Chinese and western scholars. “Students with a China focus or a China-centered approach will find it difficult to communicate with international scholars later on, if they don’t pay attention to this aspect now” Ms Zhao says, reflecting on her own experiences. “One of the biggest challenges when I came here was how to build my argumentation,” she says referring to her experience in Finland. “It is important to build a bridge between Chinese and non-Chinese scholars early on, so their methodology and way of writing and argumentation can develop and smoothly transition into the international sphere.”
Before her arrival to Finland in 2012, Ms Zhao started her research in legal studies in substantive law. “China is currently in a social transformation period, and massive amounts of research is being conducted in this field.” In her research at the University of Helsinki, Ms Zhao’s interests shifted towards enforcement and actual implementation. “I really appreciate the flexibility of doing research in Finland. My supervisor has been very supportive,” Ms Zhao thanks. In the field of enforcement, judicial reform, especially in regard to IP, has been the main focus since. The inspiration to pursue research on a governmental level was partly triggered by an academic project, “Legal Transplant for Innovation and Creativity – A Sino-Finnish Comparative Study on the Governance of Intellectual Property Rights” (TranSIP), which Ms Zhao participated in. In Finland, the project was led by a leading IP scholar in Finland, Prof. Niklas Bruun, and on the Chinese side, one of the most recognized key IP scholars in China, Prof. Li Mingde, from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
With new insights into the judicial reform at the governmental level, Ms Zhao is currently finalizing her doctoral monograph on the topic of China’s “catch up” on innovation and IP systems, where she doesn’t only consider enforcement or substantive law, but focuses more on national strategies regarding IP, their implementation by the judicial organ, as well as reactions of the industry to state policies and judicial practices.
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law, hosted the book launch of “Rule of Law and Sustainable Development” by Dr Pekka Hallberg, Emeritus President of the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland and the founder of Rule of Law Finland (ROLFI), on April 25, 2017. The author introduced the basic ideas in his book, after which Post-Doctoral Researcher Guilherme Vasconcelos Vilaça, University of Helsinki, and Visiting Researcher Dr Du Junqiang, Xi’an Jiaotong University School of Law, followed with comments and posed questions to the author.
Dr Hallberg introduced a metaphor that he uses to study and observe the development of rule of law, “a house built on solid ground”, and the four dimensional analytical model developed by ROLFI. The model examines the four pillars of the house: legality, separation of powers, rights and obligations of citizens, and functionality of the house. Dr Hallberg introduced each aspect separately, and described how each could be used to observe the development of legality within a country. Each aspect is needed to build a solid foundation for the rule of law within a society. Yet, these factors often develop at different paces and in different order in different countries, depending on their history and cultural roots.
During the commentary that followed Dr Hallberg’s introduction, Dr Vilaça posed an interesting question on the implementation of rule of law. A state’s leadership might have a strategy incorporating all four pillars of the “house” for the implementation of rule of law, the implementation stage might still fail. Finland has a good reputation for its institutions and the development of rule of law – is there something to be learned? Dr Hallberg sees the strength of the Finnish system arising from its bottom-up development and a strong Constitution. The roots of such political organization go back to rise of local communities and self-governing villages in the pre-historic period. Law was perceived as equally binding on authorities as well as on normal citizens. During Finland’s period of autonomy as the Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire (1809-1917), a strong Constitution was developed to guard the basic civil and political rights of Finnish citizens, and was implemented soon after Finland gained independence. A bottom-up approach and a strong constitution remain the basis of the Finnish society and legal culture to this day. However, Dr Hallberg also remarked that all countries have their own, different paths of development that should be respected.
Dr Du’s commentary brought a China-perspective into the discussion. Dr Du emphasized the cultural differences between Finland and China, including the distinct political frameworks. As opposed to the Finnish bottom-up approach, Chinese policy is often guided in a top-down manner. China’s legal and political structures have been deeply influenced by Confucianism and Legalism, the two main schools of philosophy in traditional China, the former of which is based on hierarchical relationships within a family and on one’s place in the social hierarchy. The basic concepts continue to have an influence in modern China, despite enormous changes and transformations in the Chinese society within the past hundred years. Dr Hallberg agreed on the importance of culture and history in analyzing the foundations of legal development, an aspect which he also brings out in his book. Also China’s case is unique: an enormous country with a huge population, whose economy has developed rapidly after the reform and opening up policy was initiated in the late 1970s. The Chinese leadership has since also embarked to establish a rule of law society on its own terms. The gradual incorporation of private ownership, business, human rights and the rule of law into the Chinese Constitution, as well as state policies aimed at strengthening legal frameworks within the country, have been major steps to drive the process forward.
The discussion was followed by more intriguing questions from the audience. Dr Hallberg’s work is a unique piece that compares the development of the rule of law in different parts of the world. The book is built on Dr Hallberg’s first-hand experiences on rule of law projects and his visits to a large number of countries, both developed and developing. It provides cases that elaborate on the differences of the justice system within each country, as well as the basic characteristics – the norms, separation of powers, the status of citizens and the functionality of the system – that set the basis for analyzing the judicial foundation of each individual society.