The Evolving Case Law System in China

On 26 September 2023, the Finnish China Law Center and GENIAL will hold a hybrid seminar on “The Evolving Case Law System in China” at 16:00-17:30 Helsinki time (15:00-16:30 CEST / 21:00-22:30 CST).

The event will be chaired by Jaakko Husa, Full Professor in Law and Globalisation at the Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki.

The seminar is free and open to all. You can attend via Zoom or in person at Room P545, 5th floor of the Porthania Building (Faculty of Law), University of Helsinki, Yliopistonkatu 3.

Sign up by 26 September, 14:00 Helsinki time at

Background of the presentation

This presentation delineates the shape of the case law system in China within a wider picture of judicial reforms led by the Supreme People’s Court, the highest court in China. It explores several fundamental issues underlying the construction of such a system and takes a close look at some most important cases, particularly cases decided, edited or approved by the Supreme People’s Court. In doing so the presentation seeks to develop essential understanding of both past achievements and present or future challenges associated with the case law system.

About the speakers

Qiao Liu is currently Professor and Deputy Director of the Centre for Chinese and Comparative Law, School of Law, City University of Hong Kong. He is also a Honorary Professor at the TC Beirne School of Law, University of Queensland (Australia) and an Adjunct Chair Professor at the School of Law of Xiamen University (China). He serves as co-Editor-in-Chief of the Chinese Journal of Comparative Law (OUP). He teaches and researches in contract law (both Anglo-Australian and Chinese), comparative Chinese law and commercial law (both domestic and international) and has published in leading law journals including the Modern Law Review, American Journal of Comparative Law and the Cambridge Law Journal. He was a member of a small expert group working with the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Secretariat on the updating of the Digest on the Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods.

17th Annual Conference of the European China Law Studies Association concluded with astounding success

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.

This achievement owe much to the efforts of the University of Helsinki Faculty of Law, European China Law Studies Association and active participation of all speakers and attendees.

Additionally, we are grateful to Joel Toivola Foundation and Tiina and Antti Herlin Foundation that generously provided funding, as their support made this event possible.

Johanna Niemi, Dean of University of Helsinki Faculty of Law and Björn Ahl, President of the European China Law Studies Association giving concluding remarks, 22 September 2023, Helsinki
Group photos of the Conference participants, 22 September 2023, Helsinki

Hybrid Guest Lecture: Transnationalizing Labour Law: A Chinese Perspective

On 5 September 2023, Visiting Professor Yifeng Chen will give a hybrid guest lecture on ‘Transnationalizing Labour Law: A Chinese Perspective’. The event will be in hybrid (live & online) format.

Time:  5 September, 13:15 – 14:45 Finnish time

Venue: Zoom and Room P545, 5th floor of the Porthania Building (Faculty of Law), University of Helsinki, Yliopistonkatu 3, Helsinki

The event is free and open to all audiences. You can attend the seminar via Zoom or in person at Room P545 at the Faculty of Law of the University of Helsinki.

We kindly ask you to register by 4 September by completing the following electronic form: 

Background of the presentation

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.


Online Seminar: The Application of the Proportionality Principle by Chinese Courts

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.

The seminar programme can be found here.

The seminar is free and open to all. Zoom link for the event will be sent to registered participants.

We kindly ask you to register by 18 June by completing the following electronic form: 

Background of the presentation

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.

Result of the Call for Papers for the 17th Annual Conference of the European China Law Studies Association

The result of the Call for Papers for the 17th Annual Conference of the European China Law Studies Association has been sent to all participants. If you have submitted an abstract/proposal, please check your email inbox and spam/junk folder just in case the email has been filtered there.

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.

Online Seminar: Chinese Companies Abroad and the Host Country’s Laws: the Case of Dirty Industries in Serbia

On 4 April 2023, University of Helsinki Chinese Studies and the Finnish China Law Center will hold an online seminar on “Chinese Companies Abroad and the Host Country’s Laws: the Case of Dirty Industries in Serbia“. The event will be moderated by Julie Yu-Wen Chen, Professor of Chinese Studies at the University of Helsinki.

Time: Tuesday 4 April, 14:00-15:30 Helsinki Time (13:00-14:30 CEST)

Venue: Online. Please register before Friday 31 March at to receive link.

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 Social Credit System in China

On 17 November 2022, the Finnish China Law Center held an online seminar on the topic of ‘The Social Credit System in China ‘. The event is part of the Center’s mini seminar series on topical issues of Chinese law.

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.

Third Chinese Finnish Colloquium on Criminal Law

The Third Chinese Finnish Colloquium on Criminal Law will be held online tomorrow 25 November at 8: 40 am (Helsinki Time).

The event is jointly organized by University of Helsinki Faculty of Law and Peking University Law School.

Please see the programme here.

The Zoom link is below.

Meeting ID: 609 313 8826

Pincode: 100402

All are welcome to attend. No registration required.

Speakers at the First Finnish-Chinese Colloquium on Criminal Law in August 2016.

Prof. Kimmo Nuotio giving guest lecture on Methodology of Criminal Law Theory: Art, Politics or Science? at PKU Law School

On 29 October 2022, Professor Kimmo NuotioBoard 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.

Why and How Do We Study Chinese Law in Our Times

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.

Understanding Law with Chinese Characteristics

On 16 September 2022, the Finnish China Law Center hosted a hybrid seminar on the topic of ‘Understanding Law with Chinese Characteristics’. This event was part of the Center’s mini seminar series on topical issues of Chinese law.

On the left: Professor Ronald Brown, 16 September 2022

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.


From left to right: Professor Martin Lavička, Professor Julie Yu-Wen Chen and Professor Ulla Liukkunen, Director of the Finnish China Law Center, Helsinki, 16 September 2022

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.