Online Seminar: The Social Credit System in China

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

The speakers include Björn Ahl, Professor and Chair of Chinese Legal Culture at the University of Cologne and President of the European China Law Studies Association, and Marianne von Blomberg, Research Associate at the Chair of Chinese Legal Culture, University of Cologne. The event will discuss the legality of social credit in China and reputational regulation through the social credit system.

The seminar programme can be found here.

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

We kindly ask you to register by 15 November by completing the following electronic form:

https://www.lyyti.fi/reg/The_Social_Credit_System_in_China_8856 

Background of the presentations

Debating the Legality of Social Credit in China – A Review of Chinese Legal Scholarship

Though there is a vast amount of critical English language literature on the Chinese social credit system (社会信用体系, ‘SCS’) that implies violations of legal principles and rights of private actors, Chinese legal scholarship that analyses the legality of SCS practices has so far not been a focal point of the international literature investigating the SCS. The presentation attempts to fill this gap and demonstrates that the Chinese legal debate is resolutely critical of certain aspects of the SCS. Further, the legal debate provides substantial input to SCS development and to related future legal reforms. In some cases, legal discussions even go beyond doctrinal legality analysis as they identify an emerging data-driven mode of behavioural regulation that may supersede, set aside or replace the law.

Reputational Regulation through the Social Credit System

China’s Social Credit System (SCS) formalizes reputational regulation, thereby challenging traditional remedial paths. The SCS adds trust assessments and their dissemination to the regulatory repertoire of Chinese state agencies across all realms. This use of adverse publicity, however, entails the loss of the agency’s control over the scope and intensity of the punishment as the punitive action is realized by information recipients, rather than the agency itself. However, traditional legal controls are not fit for shaming. Legal remedies for social credit shaming measures are regularly denied, as their position in the law is unclear. Other existing remedial channels likewise do not consider the particularities of shame sanctions such as irreversibility. Social credit reputational regulation might best be controlled by formulating an agency practice that retains the control over the scope of punishment.

About the speakers

Björn Ahl is Professor and Chair of Chinese Legal Culture at the University of Cologne. Currently, he is a Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Law of Helsinki University. His research in Chinese law focuses on constitutional development, in particular on judicial reforms and rights litigation. Chinese practice of public international law, comparative law, legal transfers and legal culture, which are related to Greater China and Chinese legal development are further areas of his research. He is President of the European China Law Studies Association. He received a Ph.D. in Law from Heidelberg University and studied law and Chinese language at the University of Heidelberg and the University of Nanjing. 

Marianne von Blomberg is a Research Associate and PhD candidate at the Chair of Chinese Legal Culture where she explores how the evolving Social Credit Systems strengthen, transform, and challenge the law. Her current research focuses on reputational sanctions in social credit systems and social credit’s genealogy. In her dissertation, she observes the case of China’s Social Credit System to unearth how trust assessment systems in both governance and the market affect the functioning and role of traditional legalities. Marianne holds an LL.M degree from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, a BA in Communication and Cultural Studies from Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen and previously spent a year at the Law School of City University of Hong Kong as a visiting researcher.

Understanding Law with Chinese Characteristics

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

On the left: Professor Ronald Brown, 16 September 2022

The seminar consisted of two presentations. The first was by Ronald Brown, Law Professor at the University of Hawai’i Law School and was titled as ‘Chinese Labor Practices, Treaties, Uyghurs, and CAI: Keeping Promises’. In his presentation, Professor Brown was speculating whether Chinese labor policies have shifted towards international standards or is it just that China is changing without change. The presentation examined the latter by calling attention to China’s many reservations of its signed and ratified international agreements.

The debate on Uyghurs have hampered China’s relationship with the West in the recent years. This issue was also raised in the presentation by Professor Brown who pointed out the different language used by the two sides: the West accuses China of ‘genocide’ while China constantly refers to the re-education camps which are needed in the thought-reform of the Uyghurs. The EU-China CAI might be pending, but the US’ new 2022 Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act and EU countries’ Due Diligence laws were brought up as new legislation to watch for. Professor Brown concluded his presentation with recent comments by the UN Human Rights Committee that, for China, made an unfavorable assessment of the situation.

 

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

The second presentation of the day was presented by Martin Lavička, Assistant Professor at Department of Asian Studies at Palacky University Olomouc, and Julie Yu-Wen Chen, Professor of Chinese Studies at the University of Helsinki. The duo discussed the topic of ‘Recent Developments of the Rule of Law with Chinese Characteristics’. Like Professor Brown, this presentation was also opened with a rationale on China’s international law standards before moving onto the on-going discussion about rule of law in China.

The core of the presentation focused on the development of religious freedoms under Xi Jinping. The assessment included a look on the recent administrative measures which, in summary, imply growing control of the party-state. Religious groups are set to function in accordance with the CCP’s ideologies. Assistant Professor Lavička and Professor Chen noted that this process started long before Xi and is set to continue in these times when the CCP’s tolerance to any contesting ideologies is becoming lesser. The duo concluded the presentation by an observation that the convergence of law-in-practice and law-in-books, considering China’s recent developments, may not always be a good thing.

The blogpost was written by the Center’s intern, Samppa Penttinen.

International Law in Chinese Courts

On Tuesday 6 September 2022, Björn Ahl, Professor and Chair of Chinese Legal Culture at the University of Cologne and President of the European China Law Studies Association, gave a guest lecture at the Finnish China Law Center. The topic of his presentation was ‘International Law in Chinese Courts’.

Professor Björn Ahl, Helsinki, 6 September 2022

The lecture discussed Chinese law and legal scholarship on the domestic effects of international law, application of international law by Chinese courts, Chinese courts’ interpretation of international law and domestic law and Chinese courts’ participation in international norm-making.

The Chinese Constitution does not stipulate the effects of international law within the domestic legal system. However, ordinary legislation and judicial interpretations of the Supreme People’s Court include enabling clauses that mandate the direct application of international law under certain conditions . However, in recent years, provisions that refer to international law were removed from legislation which signals that international treaties have become less relevant for domestic courts. General observations of Chinese scholarship shows that domestic courts display a conservative attitude towards international law and often hesitate to apply treaty provisions.

Professor Ahl went on to examine application of international law by Chinese courts especially in case of IP, human rights, double taxation avoidance  and diplomatic and consular treaties, as well as their interpretation of international law. He observed that domestic courts have developed a consistent practice of directly applying over 30 international treaties to disputes about IP, international trade, maritime commerce and international air and rail transport as well as judicial assistance in civil and criminal matters. Chinese courts increasingly rely on the principle of consistent interpretation. However, courts in general do not apply international treaties that constrain executive organs of the State.

Concerning Chinese courts’ participation in international norm-making, Professor Ahl noted that overall party-state  policy encourages Chinese state organs to participate actively in the formulation of international norms and to strengthen discourse power and influence in international legal affairs. Domestic court decisions may have the effect of confirming rules of international law or give them a novel interpretation that may trigger protest or acquiescence by other states. Only if domestic court decisions are noticed, persuasive and endorsed by other states, courts, international organizations or codifying bodies, they may exercise certain influence on the complex processes of the development of international law.

Doctoral defence: Equality in law ensures the fulfillment of fundamental rights in China, Pia Eskelinen, 9 September 2022

M.Sc. (Admin.) Pia Eskelinen will present her dissertation on the legal status of women in China, especially regarding land rights in rural areas, for public review on 9 September 2022 at 12:00. The The public examination will take place at University of Turku, Calonia 1.

The public examination can also be followed remotely at https://echo360.org.uk/section/d10ad3ff-8805-45ab-b752-65e10980be33/public

Docent Anja Lahtinen (University of Helsinki) will serve as opponent and Dean Johanna Niemi (University of Helsinki Faculty of Law) as the custos. The event will be held in Finnish.

***

In recent years, Chinese society has progressively begun to be defined by Confucian values and society’s interference with media freedom. This has also affected the working /operational environment of Chinese women. In her doctoral thesis, Eskelinen examines the legal status of rural Chinese women and women’s legal position in Chinese society. The thesis shows that the application of legislation in China has become more unequal, with women and their basic rights being placed in a more disadvantageous position.

Eskelinen uncovers what the legal status of rural Chinese women is in relation to land rights. Alongside this question, Eskelinen considers and examines more in general, the question of women’s legal status and the equal status of women in Chinese society and how President Xi Jinping’s political discourse has affected the status of women in China.

News concerning the Chinese rural women often goes unnoticed due to bigger news. News related to the economy and dissidents is important and must be made visible. Eskelinen, however, states that rural Chinese women form a large individual group whose contribution to China’s economic and social development often goes unmentioned.

“The everyday life of ordinary women forms an integral part of China’s gross national product and well-being”, Eskelinen points out.

President Xi Jinping’s impact on the state of China’s gender equality

In recent years, under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has returned to a society where Confucian values ​​increasingly determine how society works. In addition to this, society’s interference with media freedom, for example, has alarmingly increased. According to Eskelinen’s doctoral research, the turning point was in 2016. At that time, President Xi gave a speech in which he emphasized that Confucian values ​​are engraved in the hearts of Chinese people.

“After the speech, China began to move back to a more patriarchal society and women’s operating environment narrowed. It was considered that a women’s place is to take care of the family”, Eskelinen says.

In addition to this, women’s organizations in different regions started offering different courses to women, which focused on how to be good wives and daughters. Eskelinen regards the most worrisome is that the application of legislation has become more unequal, as it places women and their basic rights at a disadvantage.

Women’s appreciation and problems from the point of view of equality

Eskelinen wants to highlight the appreciation of women and the problems in equality, because women’s role and contribution to the well-being of different countries are often ignored. Finland is no exception.

In Finland, the “Lotta’s” contribution to the war effort has been downplayed, and a solution to the wage gap in female-dominated fields has still not been found. “It’s easy to appeal to the lack of money”, Eskelinen reminds.

According to Eskelinen, however, it is important to see beyond the money, attitudes and structures.

“It is not enough, for example, to light buildings in blue in honor of nurses. The idea is beautiful, but it only creates an illusionary appreciation, not a real one”, Eskelinen reflects.

Eskelinen hopes that societies from China to Finland would pay more attention to ordinary people and ordinary women and give them real value.

Contact information:
Pia Eskelinen
pia.j.eskelinen@utu.fi
050 323 7296

The blogpost was written by the Center’s intern, Annette Rapo.

Hybrid Seminar: Understanding Laws with Chinese Characteristics

On 16 September 2022, the Finnish China Law Center will hold a hybrid seminar on the topic of ‘Understanding Laws with Chinese Characteristics’. The event is part of the Center’s new mini seminar series on topical issues of Chinese law.

The speakers include Ronald Brown, Law Professor at the University of Hawai’i Law School,  Martin Lavička, Assistant Professor at Department of Asian Studies at Palacky University Olomouc, and Julie Yu-Wen Chen, Professor of Chinese Studies at the University of Helsinki. Professor Brown will present on Chinese Labor Practices, Treaties, Uyghurs, and CAI. While Professor Lavička and Professor Chen will discuss Recent Development of the Rule of Law with Chinese Characteristics.

The seminar programme can be found here.

The event is free and open to all audiences. You can attend the seminar via Zoom or in person at Room P668, 6th floor of the Porthania Building (Faculty of Law), University of Helsinki, Yliopistonkatu 3.

We kindly ask you to register by 13 September by completing the following electronic form:

https://www.lyyti.in/Understanding_Laws_with_Chinese_Characteristics_2041

Background of the presentations

Chinese Labor Practices, Treaties, Uyghurs, and CAI: Keeping Promises

As China becomes a growing global economic power, it also is seen to be increasingly embracing international standards. Yet, some argue that China is changing without change, and that it is old wine in a new bottle as the new contains the same “Chinese characteristics,” as before. These “characteristics” include China’s legal-political and CCP-dominated “rule BY Law system. Xi Jinping said, “the law in China should embody the excellence of traditional Chinese legal culture and draw lessons from beneficial legal achievements from abroad.” China’s plan is to “gradually form a unique legal tradition, which will not only absorb modern Western traditions, but also incorporate classical Chinese traditions.

This presentation traces the highlights of the modern evolution of China’s Socialist legal system in its domestic law and more recently in its international agreements in the context of labor laws and adherence to international standards. What is observable is while China signs and often ratifies some international standards, it often reserves the right to adhere to domestic law in its implementation, which tends to undercut the international standard. For example, China has not signed the ILO Convention for free association and collective bargaining, largely because China allows only one national union, and while signed UN Covenants may require it, China reserves the right to defer to domestic law.

Perhaps the issue comes to the forefront with the pending EU-China CAI which contains obligations to strive to end forced labor, e.g., with the Uyghurs. China recently ratified ILO Conventions to end forced labor. How will China implement this obligation? Will past practice produce the same old wine?

Recent Development of the Rule of Law with Chinese Characteristics: Evidence from New Measures in Governing Religions in China

This article joins the current scholarly discussion on China’s attempt to replace some of the international legal norms with their own version, or the so-called laws “with Chinese characteristics.” This results in part from China’s increasing self-confidence in world politics, and is in part due to the impotence of international law enforcement mechanisms to make states comply with universal human rights. We examine five newly adopted measures governing religions in China to show this trend. Our review does not just highlight how these new religion laws could significantly impact religious communities in China. More importantly, we show how the Chinese state’s redefinition of religious rights differs from existing international legal standards, weakens international human rights protection mechanisms and further threatens their universality.

About the speakers

Ronald Brown is a Law Professor at the University of Hawai’i Law School. He has worked as an attorney for U.S. Government, continues as a labor arbitrator, and served as the University’s Director of the Center for Chinese Studies. Professor Brown teaches labor and employment law, and international labor law on China and Asia, and has lectured throughout China and Asia. He has taught at Beijing University Law School and currently serves as an Editorial Board Member on the Hague Institute for Global Justice, International Labor Rights Case Law Journal.  He has authored numerous articles and published several books on China and Asia and served as a Consultant with the World Bank on China. As a Fulbright Distinguished Scholar, he taught at both Peking University Law School and Tsinghua University Law School. Recent publications have looked at China’s FTAs and BRI in Europe and South

Julie Yu-Wen Chen is Professor of Chinese Studies at the University of Helsinki in Finland. Chen serves as one of the Editors of the Journal of Chinese Political Science (Springer, SSCI). Formerly, Chen was chair of Nordic Association of China Studies (NACS) and Editor-in-Chief of Asian Ethnicity (Taylor & Francis). Chen’s research and teaching are multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary spanning cross Political Sciences, ethnic studies, sociology and Chinese studies.

Martin Lavička is Assistant Professor at the Department of Asian Studies, Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic, where he teaches modern Chinese history and Chinese politics. He is also Junior Researcher in the Sinophone Borderlands Project focusing on the PRC’s ethnic policies and laws.

Is Sinology philosophy? Is studying Chinese philosophy Sinology?

The Centre is pleased to announce a seminar on complex relationship between Sinology and Chinese philosophy, organised by the Nordic Network on Chinese Thought (NNCT), in a hybrid format and as a contact seminar at the University of Lapland on the 14th October, 2022.

The seminar “Is Sinology philosophy, is studying Chinese philosophy Sinology?” will be led by Professor Tao Jiang as the key-note speaker, remapping the intellectual landscape of classical Chinese philosophy through key categories of humanness, justice and personal freedom.

The event will then be followed by (1) the discussion of the evolution of the concept of ren (humanness) in Confucian philosophy by Senior Research Fellow Jyrki Kallio; (2) the discussion of the nature and definition of ”concepts” in traditional Chinese thought by Professor emeritus Torbjörn Lodén; and (3) the presentation of the argument of European philosophy offers promising resources for the practice of and approach to cross-cultural philosophy by Professor Matti Nojonen.

The full programme can be viewed here. The participation link will be opened on the NNCT homepage  in due time before the event takes place.

This blog post was written by the Center’s intern, Li Tsz Yau Dorothy.

Finnish China Law Center in 2022 – What to expect?

In 2022, the Center’s mini seminar series on topical issues of Chinese law will return with three events that deal with the themes of public international law, IP law and maritime law. The first seminar on Standard Essential Patents in China will be held in collaboration with IPR University Center on 23 March 2022. Further China related events about selected themes in IP law will be arranged with IPR University Center in the future.

During Spring term 2022, the following Chinese law courses will be taught within the Global Governance Law Master’s Programme at the University of Helsinki Faculty of Law, one of our member institutions:

  • Comparative law and Chinese legal system: history and presence by Professor Björn Ahl

The course is designed to help students gain an understanding of comparative law approaches used in examining culturally different law and knowledge of the historical background and contemporary development of the Chinese legal system and its key characteristics.

  • China in International Organisations – Transnational Governance by Dr. Kangle Zhang

The course will focus on China’s role in major international organisations, especially WTO, and transnational governance as well as the influence of international organisations on the Chinese legal system and regulatory models.

  • Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Law in China by doctoral candidate Yuan Li

The course aims to provide the students with a comprehensive overview of Chinese sustainable development strategy and its related policies and legal regulations. The course examines relevant corporate social responsibility and sustainability laws from the perspective of Chinese and Western multinational enterprises operating in China.

  • Chinese Business and Company law: Governing Finance and the Economy by Dr. Kangle Zhang.

The course explores the Chinese financial market and financial regulations, Chinese business and financial regulations in the global context, Chinese business law and company law and legal institutions that oversee business entities in China.

The Center and the University of Helsinki Faculty of Law will also continue to organize the internship course in which the students will contribute to Chinese law-related activities undertaken through the Center and the Faculty.

On the verge of 2022, we would like to extend our sincere gratitude to the Center’s friends and followers for having supported us in 2021.  We wish you all a Happy New Year and hope to see you again in 2022 with many more academic activities await.

Make sure to follow us on our social media channels to stay updated!

Recent developments in Chinese Labor Law

On 22 November 2021, the Finnish China Law Center held an online mini seminar on the topic of “Recent developments in Chinese Labor Law”. The event was part of the Center’s new mini seminar series on topic issues of Chinese law. The seminar was chaired by Ulla Liukkunen, Professor of Labour Law and Private International Law at the University of Helsinki and the Director of the Finnish China Law Center.

The seminar began with a presentation by Ronald Brown, Law Professor at the University of Hawai’i Law School on “Potpourri: Offshore Views of China’s Labor Laws and Practices”. Domestically, Professor Brown explained how labour laws in China are good on paper, however, are a work in progress, since there are significant inconsistencies in labour practices and enforcement. From the offshore perspective, he discussed the impact of domestic labour law on trade and investments. As an example, he noted how domestic Chinese labour practices can have cross-border impacts where they are carried to third countries through investments such as the Belt and Road Initiative.

The second presentation was held by Tianyu Wang, Associate Director of the Social Law Department of the Institute of Law, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, on the topic “The internet platform labour law in China: The Rise, Controversy, and Policy Trends”. He noted that internet service platforms offer vast new opportunities in jobs and careers in China and introduced the four different organizational platforms in China. Professor Wang outlined the new legal challenges that the rise of platform work presents in labour law. Notably, the Chinese courts are faced with the difficulty in differentiating the type of relationships between platform workers and platforms as employers. He observed that in cases, the Chinese courts often rule that this relationship is a civil one rather than a labour relationship subsequently ignoring the control that platforms have over the workers.

The third presentation was held by Professor Ulla Likkunen on “Decent Work and SDG 8 – Observations of Chinese Approach”. Professor Liukkunen discussed how SDG 8, Decent Work and Economic Growth can add value to labour law since it is directly connected with the work of the ILO Decent Work Agenda, which reaffirms the objective of social justice. She discussed how China has developed the decent work programme by efforts related to increasing the quantity and quality of employment, promoting and extending social protection in the workplace and strengthening the rule of law and realization of fundamental principles and rights at work. She noted how work still needs to be done to implement decent work in China. Importantly, although China has not ratified all ILO fundamental conventions, all member states of the ILO including China should respect, realize and promote the ILO declaration on fundamental principles and rights at work regardless of the state of ratification.

The final presentation was held by Yan Tian, Assistant Professor & Assistant Dean at Peking University Law School on “A Constitutional Theory of Workplace Discipline in China”. Professor Tian outlined how Article 53 of the Chinese Constitution lists the duty of workplace discipline. Unlike most Constitutions, the Chinese one lists both the rights and duties of citizens. He explained how the Article has socialist roots in raising the consciousness of citizens in discipline, since factories were seen as an extension of the state. Progressively workplace discipline has evolved with China moving towards a market economy and capitalization to restrict the employers right to punish. The Article has thus evolved with the state only partially siding with employers and adopting a “preventative” or “educative” take on workplace discipline rather than punishment.

This blog post was written by the Center’s intern, Annette Rapo.

Prof. Kimmo Nuotio giving guest lecture on Criminal Law and Sustainable Development at PKU Law School

Professor Kimmo Nuotio on 2 November 2021

On 2 November 2021, Professor Kimmo Nuotio, Board Member of the Finnish China Law Center held a guest lecture on Criminal Law and Sustainable Development as part of the PKU Law School Distinguished Global Faculty Lecture series. Professor Nuotio is a renowned legal scholar with extensive Chinese collaboration experience and a Professor of Criminal Law at the University of Helsinki. The Global Faculty lectures series is an opportunity for expert legal scholars to share thoughts and in-depth perspectives, whilst nurturing global awareness among students.

Within his lecture, Professor Nuotio examined how the notions of criminal law and sustainable developments have not often been linked to each other and calls for further discussion of this relationship. Examples such as environmental criminal law and corporate liability were discussed from this point of view. He outlined how according to the European view, criminal law should not be measured against purely instrumental values, therefore as a means to an end, since a state- or society-oriented view on criminal justice would risk the capability of criminal law to stand for individual freedoms and liberties. Professor Nuotio, however, noted that it is fair to consider how criminal law could best be used to support societal development. In his lecture, Professor Nuotio posed and examined several questions such as it is fair to ask about how criminal law could best be used to support societal development and whether the notion of sustainability actually adds anything new? Finally, the role of criminal law in regard to reaching the UN Sustainable Development Goals was discussed.

This blog post was written by the Center’s intern, Annette Rapo.

European China Law Studies Association’s map on Chinese law taught in Europe

The European China Law Studies Association (ECLS) was founded in 2006 to advance the research on Chinese law. It has since become a notable international venue for all the scholars and practitioners interested in Chinese law.

Besides blog posts, annual conferences, and many other events, the ECLS is gathering information about Chinese law taught in Europe. The map on the ECLS website aims to cover all the study programs and elective courses which are focusing on Chinese law. The current map shows over 20 courses in 13 different countries.

However, the map is yet to be completed. Institutions in Europe that offer Chinese law courses are welcome to update  their information on the current map by sending an email to Marianne von Blomberg (m.vonblomberg@uni-koeln.de).

This blog post was written by the Center’s intern, Samppa Penttinen.

Smart Courts and the Informatization of China’s Judicial System

On 25 October 2021, the Finnish China Law Center held an online mini seminar on the topic of ‘Smart Courts and the Informatization of China’s Judicial System’. The event is part of the Center’s new mini seminar series on topical issues of Chinese law.

Professor Johanna Niemi, 25 October 2021

The seminar was chaired by Johanna Niemi, Professor of Procedural Law at University of Turku and Board Member of the Finnish China Law Center.

The seminar began with a presentation by Björn Ahl, Professor and Chair of Chinese Legal Culture at the University of Cologne on ‘The Development of Chinese Smart Courts within the Broader Context of Judicial Reform’. He remarked that as China is currently at the forefront of technical and digital development, its experience in smart courts and judicial reform would be a good subject for comparative study.

Professor Björn Ahl, 25 October 2021

Professor Ahl started with an introduction on the description of smart courts. In a smart court, litigation activities are carried out online with limited human interference. Software applications, algorithms and big-data analytics are used to support the judicial process.  He noted that the smart courts form a small part of the overall policy toward judicial informalization. The objective of judicial informatization and smart courts is to create a more just and fairer judiciary, more consistent adjudication and better monitoring and supervision of cases. Professor Ahl also gave some examples of the applications utilized in smart courts including systems that can automatically draw analogy between similar cases to provide in-depth materials and guidance in decision-making for judges to review and those that to systems that can process and cross-examine case texts and parties’ information to determine if there are any overlapping procedures.

Professor Wen Xiang, 25 October 2021

The second presentation titled ‘The Rise of Smart Courts in China: A Pathway to E-justice in the Digital Age?’ was given by Wen Xiang, Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Copenhagen. He explained that the reason behind the need for smart courts in China is the sharp increase of cases which places heavy burden on judges. Since 2013, China has initiated the informatization of courts. Internet courts were established in Hangzhou (2017), Beijing (2018) and Guangzhou (2018). Professor Xiang then gave a brief introduction of four of the techniques that have been employed in smart courts including electronic case-filing, remote trial, online mediation platform and electronic delivery system. He stated that smart courts have the potential to promote quality of justice, improve judicial efficiency, provide convenience for the people, and build judicial big data system.

In their presentations, both Professors expressed concerns regarding potential bias in algorithms in smart courts, possible inaccuracy in algorithm-based and data-based decision-making mechanisms, uncertainties about the influence  of private developers on the deliver of justice, lack of guideline on data security and protection of privacy, and unequal access to technology.