European China Law Studies Association to hold the 15th Annual Conference

When: 24- 26 September 2021

The 15th Annual Conference of the European China Law Studies Association (ECLS) will be hosted by the Polish Research Centre for Law and Economy of China and the University of Warsaw School of Law and Economy of China. Since the ECLS’s main objective is to encourage comparative and interdisciplinary research on Chinese law, the conference will be a platform for scholars and professionals to exchange their ideas about Chinese law and policies. The organizers hope for many contributions in form of papers and presentations on the general topic of China’s legal system and in particular its recent development.

Although there is no strict specification on the choice of topic, the organizers especially welcome submissions that concern the following themes:

  • Blockchain, big data & artificial intelligence in China
  • Sino-US trade war and its legal implications for Europe
  • Legal aspects of the Belt and Road Initiative
  • Codification of Laws in China
  • Rule of Law and Chinese Constitutionalism
  • Chinese and Comparative Labour Law
  • Legal Issues of Poland-China Relations
  • Chinese law and society
  • China’s new structure of Party and state
  • National supervision law and the new supervisory mechanism
  • New developments in China’s judicial reforms
  • China in the international legal order.

Call for abstracts:

The ECLS welcomes the submission of abstracts/ papers for presentation, as well as proposals for full panel sessions. Both abstracts (max. 300 words) and proposals for panel sessions (max.1000 words) should include the title of the paper; name, institution, and email address of the author(s); and up to five keywords. Proposals for panel sessions should furthermore include abstracts of all proposed papers as well as a short integrative statement explaining the theme of the panel (all in one document).

Proposals for panels on recently published books are welcomed as well and are required to include a short explanation of the book’s importance and brief biographies of the participants.

Alternate formats of presentation as well as the participation of young researchers are also encouraged.

Proposals should be submitted online; the submission form can be found here: http://chinalaw.wpia.uw.edu.pl/ecls-annual-conference/. All proposals will be subject to peer-review by the organizing committees. The deadline for submissions of abstracts and panel proposals is 30 May 2021, and the deadline for submission of full papers is 6 September 2021.

All questions and suggestions can be addressed to eclswarsaw@wpia.uw.edu.pl.

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.

Conference on China´s Rise/Asia´s Responses

When: 10-11 June 2021

The 15th Biennial Conference of the Nordic Association for China Studies (NACS) and Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS)’s 14th Annual Nordic NIAS Council Conference will be organized as a joint virtual conference named “China´s Rise/Asia´s Responses”. The theme of the conference is broad and interdisciplinary. The conference seeks understanding about China´s rising influence in Asia and responses to that by different Asian countries. One of the topics of the conference is Politics and Law so legal researchers are welcomed to participate. Participants can share findings about the occurring and perception of China´s rise and reactions by different Asian states and social actors. The organizers are particularly hoping for interdisciplinary approaches.

The online conference will include keynotes, panels, roundtables and possible other formats, for which suggestions are welcome. Self-organized panels are strongly encouraged. Informal discussions and networking are not to be forgotten either. Participants can be scholars and doctoral candidates in social sciences and humanities. Keynote speakers of the conference include Professor of International Relations, William A. Callahan from London School of Economics, Associate Professor Camilla T. N. Sørensen from Royal Danish Defence College, and Professor Mette Halskov Hansen from University of Oslo.

Call for abstracts: The organizers are inviting proposals for panels, roundtables, and individual papers. Please send individual paper abstracts (max. 250 words), or a panel abstract (max. 300 words) in addition to 250-word abstracts for contributing papers by email to nacsnnc@helsinki.fi by 2pm, 25 January 2021. Abstracts should include name, title/position, email address and institutional affiliation.

Additionally, a two-day PhD workshop will take place before the conference. The workshop gathers promising PhD students concentrating on various Asian related topics. Students will get to present their works and get feedback from senior scholars. For detailed information about the PhD workshop and application instructions, please visit https://www.helsinki.fi/en/beta/chinas-riseasias-responses/phd-workshop. Deadline for applications is 25 January 2021.

More about the conference can be found at https://www.helsinki.fi/en/beta/chinas-riseasias-responses/about

This blog post was written by the Center’s interns, Elias Jakala. Elias is a sixth year law student at the University of Helsinki. He is a Bachelor of Law and trying to graduate as a Master of Law at the end of this semester. In addition to his studies, he works part-time at Attorneys Kuhanen, Asikainen & Kanerva Oy dealing mainly with real estate law. He has a special interest in Chinese law and society. The subject of his master´s thesis concerns attempts to bring German civil law into Chinese legal system at the end of the 19th century and in the beginning of the 20th century. 

 

 

Prof. Kimmo Nuotio giving guest lecture on Criminal Law as Transnational Law at PKU Law School

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.

CHINA LAW WEEK 2020 SESSION 4: REFORM AND EMERGING ISSUES IN CHINESE PRIVATE LAW AND THE COURT SYSTEM

Chair of the session, Professor Jukka Mähönen, 23 October 2020

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.

 

Professor Jin Haijun speaking on “Legal Reform and the New Chinese Civil Code: An Introduction”, 23 October 2020

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 Juha Karhu speaking on “Nordic Perspective on the New Chinese Civil Code”, 23 October 2020

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.

Dr. Kangle Zhang speaking on “Emerging Issues in Chinese Finance & Business Law”, 23 October 2020

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.

 

Dr. Wei Qian speaking on “Do Positive Disability Policies Promote Social Inclusion of the Disabilities in China?”, 23 October 2020

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.

Professor Björn Ahl speaking on “Chinese Court Reforms and their Impact on Decision Making”, 23 October 2020

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.

CHINA LAW WEEK 2020 SESSION 3: NEW CHALLENGES FOR CHINA’S BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE

Chair of the session, Professor Björn Ahl, 22 October 2020

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.

 

Professor Julie Yu-Wen Chen speaking on “The Localized Approach in Understanding One Belt One Road’s Impacts”, 22 October 2020

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.

Professor Ronald C. Brown speaking on “China’s BRI in Central Eastern European Countries: “17+1”: Connectivity, Divisiveness, or Pathway to EU-China?”, 22 October 2020

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 speaking on “An Overview of Intellectual Property Protection and Cooperation under the BRI”, 22 October 2020

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.

Professor Yifeng Chen speaking on “Transnational Labour Protection and the Belt and Road Initiative”, 22 October 2020

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.

 

Professor Matti Nojonen speaking on “China’s Arctic Policy and the “Polar Silk Road” Initiative”, 22 October 2020

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?”

Panel discussion: Emerging challenges for the BRI, 22 October 2020

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.

 

CHINA LAW WEEK 2020 SESSION 2: CHINESE LABOUR LAW IN INTERNATIONAL AND COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVES

Chair of the session, Professor Ninon Colneric, 21 October 2020

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.

 

Professor Sean Cooney speaking on “Digital Platforms and New Challenges for Labour Law”, 21 October 2020

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.

Professor Ulla Likkunen speaking on “International Employment Contracts in China – the Influence of Labour Law and Private International Law Trends”, 21 October 2020

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.

Associate Professor Yan Dong speaking on “Labour Disputes of Chinese Posted Workers in the B&R Countries”, 21 October 2020

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.

Professor Ronald C. Brown speaking on “Labor Law Adjustments for Workers in China and the U.S. during the Pandemic”, 21 October 2020

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.

Assistant Professor Yan Tian speaking on “The Change of the Image of Worker in China’s Law of Bankruptcy”, 21 October 2020

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.

 

CHINA LAW WEEK 2020 SESSION 1: CHINESE LAW AND LEGAL CULTURE – A DIVERSITY OF APPROACHES

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.

Chair of the session, Professor Pia Letto-Vanamo  speaking on “Taking Account of History When Researching Contemporary Law”, 20 October 2020

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.

Professor Björn Ahl speaking on “Different Approaches to Chinese Legal Culture”, 20 October 2020

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.

Associate Professor Joanna Grzybek speaking on “Dispute Resolution in China: A Language Perspective “, 20 October 2020

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 speaking on “Law and Gender: Finnish and Chinese Perspectives”, 20 October 2020

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.

Professor Kimmo Nuotio speaking on “Criminal Law in the Context of Rule of Law: Finnish and Chinese Perspectives”, 20 October 2020

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.

Programme of China Law Week 2020 announced

The Finnish China Law Center is pleased to announce the long-awaited programme for the China Law Week 2020.

The event will include four information-packed sessions on the following topics:

  • Chinese Law and Legal Culture – A Diversity of Approaches
  • Chinese Labour Law in International and Comparative Perspectives
  • New Challenges for China’s Belt and Road Initiative
  • Reform and Emerging Issues in Chinese Private Law and the Court System

The detailed programme can be found here.

China Law Week 2020 is free of charge and open to the public. Participants can attend the whole event or individual sessions if they so wish.

Registration to the event is required. We kindly ask you to register by 18 October 2020 by completing the following electronic form: https://www.lyyti.fi/reg/China_Law_Week_2020_8204

For further questions and inquiries, please contact Le Bao Ngoc Pham, the Center’s Coordinator, at ngoc.pham@helsinki.fi.

China Law Week’s speakers. First row (from left to right): Associate Professor Chen Yifeng (Peking University), Assistant Professor Yan Tian (Assistant Dean, Peking University), Associate Professor Joanna Grzybek (Polish Centre for Law and Economy of China), Professor Pia Letto-Vanamo (Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki), Professor Ronald C. Brown (University of Hawai’i Law School). Second row (from left to right): Professor Kimmo Nuotio (University of Helsinki), Dr. Kangle Zhang (University of Helsinki), Dr. Wei Qian (China University of Labour Relations, School of Labour Relations and Human Resources), Professor Sean Cooney (University of Melbourne), Professor Yan Dong (Beijing Foreign Studies University School of Law). Third row (from left to right): Professor Alan C Neal (University of Warwick), Professor Ulla Liukkunen (University of Helsinki, Director of the Finnish China Center), Professor Julie Yu-Wen Chen (University of Helsinki, Director of the Confucius Institute), and Professor Jin Haijun (Renmin University). Last row (from left to right): Professor Juha Karhu (University of Lapland), Professor Björn Ahl ( University of Cologne, President of the European China Law Studies Association), Professor Matti Nojonen (University of Lapland), and Professor Johanna Niemi (University of Turku).

 

Belt and Road Initiative in Russia and Kazakhstan

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.

Professor Julie Yu-Wen Chen, Professor of Chinese Studies and Director of Confucius Institute, opened the Seminar.

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.

Professor Nikolay Samoylov on Russia’s views toward the Belt and Road Initiative

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.

Professor Chris Primiano on how students at KIMEP University view the BRI

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.

Peking University Law School and the Finnish China Law Center hold a seminar on Labour and Social Law

Front row: Professor Ye Jingyi (Vice-Chairperson, Peking University Law School) and Professor Pia Letto-Vanamo (Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki). Back row: Yuan Li (student in the master’s programme in International Business Law, University of Helsinki and intern at the Finnish China Law Center), Assistant Professor Yan Tian (Assistant Dean, Peking University Law School), student in the bachelor of Law programme at University of Helsinki, Professor Ulla Liukkunen (University of Helsinki, Director of the Finnish China Law Center), Assistant Professor Jari Murto (University of Helsinki), and Le Bao Ngoc Pham (Coordinator of the Finnish China Law Center)

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.

Professor Yan Tian, Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki, 13 December 2019

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.

Professor Jari Murto, Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki, 13 December 2019

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.

 

Speakers’ bios:

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.

Jari Murto 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.

 

PEKING UNIVERSITY Vice Chairperson VISITS UNIVERSITY OF HELSINKI, renews exchange agreement between the two Universities

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.

From left to right: Assistant Professor Yan Tian, Professor Hanna Snellman, Professor Ye Jingyi, and Professor Ulla Liukkunen

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.

The meeting concluded with Professor Snellman and Professor Ye signing the bilateral exchange agreement between University of Helsinki and Peking University