Matti Nojonen on Xunzi’s practical philosophy of governance; concepts of rites (li), law (fa) and social order and contemporary Chinese Party-State

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.

Professor Matti Nojonen, 24 May 2021

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.

 

Professor Jason Chuah on the continuing development of maritime law in the PRC

Professor Ellen J. Eftestøl, 20 April 2021

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 Jason Chuah, 20 April 2021

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.

 

Introducing the Nordic Network on Chinese Thought

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 20th of April, at 10 AM to 12 Noon (UTC + 3).

For further information, please visit https://www.ulapland.fi/EN/Webpages/Nordic-Network-on-Chinese-Thought

Introducing the Members of the Board of the China Law Center

We are happy to introduce that for the 2021-2024 term, the member institutions of the Finnish China Law Center are represented on the Board by:

The Chair of the Board is Professor Pia Letto-Vanamo, Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki. The Deputy Chair is Matti Nojonen, Professor of Chinese Culture and Society, University of Lapland.

Read more about the Center’s Board Members below.

Professor, LL.D. Pia 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. Currently she is working as Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Helsinki. Professor Letto-Vanamo is the research director at the Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki since 2012. She is member of the advisory board, Centre for Legal Cultural Studies, University of Copenhagen since 2008; member of the Board, Aleksanteri Institute since 2011; member of the Board, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies at the University of Helsinki since 2014; and member of the Board of Federation of Finnish Learned Societies since 2016.

Professor 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. 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.

Petri Kuoppamaki is Professor of Business Law at Aalto University Business School in Helsinki, Finland, and CEO of Competition Consulting Europe. His prior roles include Professor of Competition Law at University of Helsinki, Vice President Legal & IP at Nokia, Partner at Castrén & Snellman Attorneys, Investigator at European Commission, and Lawyer at Nordic Law. Prof. Kuoppamaki holds a Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) in Competition Law, EU Law, and Law & Economics from University of Helsinki.

 

Kari Hoppu is Professor of Business Law at Aalto University School of Business. His research focus is in contract, securities and marketing law. Hoppu has been a member or chairman of several Boards, i.e. Securities Complaints Board, Arbitration Institute of the Finland Chamber of Commerce, Redemption Committee of the Finland Chamber of Commerce, Board of Business Practice and Board of Trading Practices in the Food Supply Chain.

 

Dr. Ulla-Maija Mylly is currently Senior Research Fellow at University of Turku, faculty of law and Senior Project researcher at Hanken School of Economics (Helsinki). She was a TIAS postdoctoral researcher at the University of Turku 2017-2019. She did her first LL.M. at University of Turku and the second at Kyushu University, Japan (International Trade and Business Law). Ulla-Maija has earlier worked among others as a Senior Lecturer in Civil Law at the Faculty of Law and in various research positions at the Turku School of Economics and as a practicing lawyer. She is trained on the bench. August 2017 – July 2018 she was a Visiting Research Fellow at Oxford Intellectual Property Research Center.

Veli Matti Virolainen is Professor of Supply Management at LUT School of Business and Management. He has held several positions of trust including Member of Academy of Technical Sciences in Finland (2014 onwards), Member of association Finnish parliament members and researchers (2013 onwards), President of International Purchasing & Supply Education & Research Association (2012-2014), President of the International Federation of Production Research (2015 – 2019), and Member of Collegiate body of LUT (2017-2020). Professor Virolainen was also the founder and academic leader of Purchasing and Supply Management Programme.

Onerva-Aulikki Suhonen (LL.M., M.Sc.) works as a lecturer in civil law at the UEF Law School. Her teaching focuses on transnational commercial law and comparative law and supervision of commercial law theses. In her Ph.D. research, Suhonen studies the regulatory framework applicable to cross-border commercial contracts and analyses the development of transnational commercial contract law doctrine.

 

Katja Lindroos is Professor of Commercial Law at UEF Law School. Her research focuses on emerging markets and the evolving regulatory framework for commerce. She concentrates on the role of law and trade in shaping the global economy, which directly impacts national and regional economies. Professor Lindroos has published widely on issues regarding internet, intellectual property rights, and food law.

 

Matti Nojonen, Professor of Chinese culture and society at Univerity of Lapland, Finland. Nojonen has been working on China for three decades on traditional and contemporary  Chinese philosophy, social, institutional and value base changes in China, institutional reform policy, traditional and current Chinese strategic thinking and Chinese over-seas direct investments (including Belt and Road Initiative).

 

Jukka Viljanen is Professor of Public Law at the Tampere University, Finland. He is a Member of Finnish Human Rights Delegation (2020-2024) and an expert before the Constitutional Law Committee of Finnish Parliament (since 2004 onwards). He was a member of Ministry of Justice working group that modified the Section 10 of the Finnish Constitution in 2015-2016. Professor Viljanen is currently leading a project funded by the Strategic Research Council under Academy of Finland called ALL-YOUTH and its subproject Resolving legal obstacles (2018-2023). He is also responsible leader of EVOLUTIVE- research project on impact of the Council of Europe Human Rights treaties (2021-22).

Dr. Matti Urpilainen is docent of tax law and has been working as a Senior Lecturer in Tax Law atTampere University, Faculty of Management and Business since 2012. His research interests include international tax law, EU tax law, and Finnish tax system.

 

 

Johanna Niemi is Professor and Professor of procedural law, University of Turku. Before joining the faculty in Turku she served as vice dean (education) at University of Helsinki. She has worked as a professor at Umeå University and as visiting professor at Lund University and been Fulbright scholar at University of Wisconsin. She is Doctor Honoris Causa at Uppsala University 2010. Professor Niemi’s research interests include criminal procedure, consumer insolvency, human rights and the construction of gender in legal discourses. She has led several socio-legal research projects. Some of her publications include Niemi et al (eds), International Law and Violence against Women: Europe and the Istanbul Convention, 2020; Nousiainen et al. (eds), Responsible Selves. Women in the Nordic Legal Culture, 2001.

Lauri Paltemaa is Professor of East Asian Contemporary History and Politics and the Director of the Department of Philosophy, Contemporary History and Political Science as well as the Centre for East Asian Studies at the University of Turku. He is also the Chair of the Finnish University Network of Asian Studies. His recent publications include Managing Famine, Flood and Earthquake in China – Tianjin 1958-85 published in 2016 by Routledge, and Lyhyt johdatus Kiinan historiaan (A Short Introduction to Chinese History (2018). His recent articles have appeared in journals such as Information, Communication and Society, The China Journal, China Information and The Modern Asian Studies. His research interests include Chinese internet politics, governance, disaster management and disaster politics, social movements and contemporary history.

Dr. Kati Nieminen (MA, LLD) is a post-doctoral researcher at the Institute for Criminology and Legal Policy at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki. Her research focuses on legal policy and legislative studies, as well as access to justice. Lately she has published articles on discrimination, minority rights, and evidence based policy and is currently affiliated with the Academy of Finland Strategic Research project “Silent agents affected by legislation: from an insufficient knowledge base to inclusive solutions” (SILE). In her teaching she promotes empirical and socio-legal approaches to law.

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.

 

NEW PUBLICATION: CHINESE CONTEXT AND COMPLEXITIES — COMPARATIVE LAW AND PRIVATE INTERNATIONAL LAW FACING NEW NORMATIVITIES IN INTERNATIONAL COMMERCIAL ARBITRATION

Ulla Liukkunen, Professor of Labour Law and Private International Law at the University of Helsinki and Director of the Finnish China Law Center, has published an article under the title “Chinese context and complexities – comparative law and private international law facing new normativities in international commercial arbitration”. The article appeared in the first edition of the electronic journal Ius Comparatum, a new project of the International Academy of Comparative Law (IACL) that focuses on the necessity of using comparative methods in order to get a better understanding of international arbitration.

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.

An interview with doctoral candidate Kangle Zhang

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.

China Minor Programme at the University of Lapland

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.

 

The Rise of China and Normative Transformation in the Arctic Region

Sanna Kopra Helsingissä 15.05. 2019. Compic/Kimmo Brandt

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 project was awarded €237,970.00 by the Academy of Finland, and is hosted by the Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, one of the member institutions of the Finnish China Law Center.

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.

Publication: