Doctoral Seminar at the Asian Studies Day

The Center would like to inform its readers, and especially PhD candidates, of the opportunity to attend the Doctoral Seminar at the Asian Studies Days organized by the Finnish University Network for Asian Studies (Asianet) on 19 November 2021.

The seminar is open to all PhD candidates in Finnish universities whose thesis focus on society, politics, economy, business, culture, history, and law in East, Southeast or South Asia. Thus, the event is suitable for PhD candidates whose works examine Chinese law and legal culture.

This is a great chance to meet and get feedback from senior researchers in the field.

PhD candidates are expected to participate either with a research plan, full research paper, or a chapter of the thesis (6000 words).

Registration to the Doctoral Seminar should be submitted by 22 October 2021 by filling the form below:

https://link.webropolsurveys.com/Participation/Public/f8308496-9341-44fc-8838-1306fc968129?displayId=Fin2376654

For more information about the Doctoral Seminar, please visit https://www.asianet.fi/2021/10/08/doctoral-seminar-during-the-asian-studies-days-2021/

This blog post was written by one of the Center’s interns, Sukhman Gill.

Online Seminar: Recent Developments in Chinese Labour Law

On 22 November 2021, the Finnish China Law Center will organize an online mini seminar titled ‘Recent Developments in Chinese Labour Law’.

Time: 22 November, 09:15 – 10:50 Finnish time

Venue: Zoom

Event speakers include Ronald Brown, Law Professor at the University of Hawai’i Law School, Wang Tianyu, Professor at Department of Social Law, Institute of Law, Chinese Academy of Social Science, Yan Tian, Assistant Professor & Assistant Dean at Peking University Law School, and Ulla Liukkunen, Professor of Labour Law and Private International Law at Faculty of Law University of Helsinki and Director of the Finnish China Law Center.

The seminar programme can be found here.

The seminar is open to all. However, registration is required to receive the Zoom meeting information.

We kindly ask you to register by 19 November by completing the following electronic form:

https://www.lyyti.in/Recent_Developments_in_Chinese_Labour_Law_3010 

If you have any questions, please contact the Center’s Coordinator via ngoc.pham@helsinki.fi.

About the chair and 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 America.

Wang Tianyu is the Associate Director of the Social Law Department and the Associate Director of the Technology and Law Research Center of the Institute of Law, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. His work focuses on labor and social security issues, especially platform labor and the gig economy in recent years. He published the first paper on platform labor in China and took part in some major policy-making and legislation consulting events. His academic views are widely spread through media interviews and newspaper columns, a big part of which is accepted by the administrative authorities and courts.

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.

 

Ulla Liukkunen is Professor of Labour Law and Private International Law at the University of Helsinki. She is also the Director of the Finnish Center of Chinese Law and Chinese Legal Culture and a Member of the Board of the European China Law Studies Association. Professor Liukkunen has published widely on labour law, private international law, comparative law, transnational law and governance of the social dimension of globalization. She has led two Academy of Finland international labour law research projects, “ILO Core Labour Standards Implementation in China: Legal Architecture and Cultural Logic” and “Employee Participation and Collective Bargaining in the Era of Globalization – Nordic and Chinese Perspectives” and acted as a senior researcher in the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence Foundations of European Law and Polity. Professor Liukkunen has broad experience in national and EU law drafting as a Counsellor in Legislative Affairs and she has acted as an expert in several international projects on labour law and private international law.

An interview with Professor Ronald C. Brown

The Finnish China law center had the opportunity to interview Law Professor at the University of Hawai’i Law School, Ronald C. Brown. Professor Brown is an expert in Chinese labour law with experience from several decades in various roles.  He has also personally lived and taught law in China.

How did you become interested/involved in Chinese labor law?

Before coming to Hawai’i in the 1980s Professor Brown was teaching some labor law in William & Mary Law School in Virginia. When he came to Hawai’i he got involved in international labor law. Then he took a trip to China and fell in love with the country. He was teaching at Peking University Law School and became friends with experts in Chinese labor law with whom he had opportunity to work. At that time back in the 80s Chinese labor law was only evolving. Later he put together some books on for example Chinese labor law. Professor Brown says Hawai’i was a good advantage point to reach out into China. From the U.S. it is halfway there.

During your long career, what are the most important moments of understanding or single findings considering Chinese legal culture?

Professor Brown tells that he has become aware of China by living there, meeting people, and having university colleagues and neighbors. ”I think the moment of understanding comes from just getting to know people and realizing that the Chinese are just a lot like us. Politics are politics in America and in China. But the people are real.” Professor Brown adds that he always loved the Chinese and their Irish-like good sense of humor. He mentions the Chinese phrase ”can I eat it” when talking about ideas and concepts. At first he did not understand the phrase but found out it was about how useful the information was.

On legal system, Professor Brown got involved early on with the Chinese legal institutions. In the 80s, Professor Brown worked together with a Chinese Law Professor keeping up with the new Chinese legislation. They soon had a room full of new laws that were evolving. It became clear that at Deng´s time there was legalization going on and Professor Brown says he was lucky enough to watch it and be a little bit part of it.

You have published broadly about labor law and economic relations considering not only USA, EU and China but also for example Russia and Latin America. From a global perspective, what do you think are the main strengths and weaknesses of Chinese legal culture? What could other legal systems learn from the Chinese?

As back in the 80s the Chinese basically had some leftover laws from Mao, Professor Brown considers it amazing how rapidly the Chinese were able to evolve and professionalize a whole legal system. In his opinion the Chinese labor laws are wonderful but there are problems in enforcement. Other Chinese characteristics he mentions are commerce-skills and sensitively protective attitude towards their sovereignty. Professor Brown also thinks the Chinese have good sensitivity towards everyday citizens even though there are logistic problems with 1.4 billion population. He reminds how China has lifted millions of people out of poverty.

Do you think fundamental differences between Chinese and Western contract conceptions and legal systems in general cause issues when drafting FTAs?

Professor Brown starts his answer by telling how the analytical thinking process of the Chinese differs from the Americans. He compares it with water going down the sink in the opposite direction. They might reach the same results using different thinking process. According to Professor Brown, the Chinese legal system has a bit civil law and maybe a touch of common law but he emphasizes the Chinese characteristics coming from China´s special history. ”Whatever comes out at the end of the day in China is Chinese for sure, legally speaking”, he laughs. He thinks FTAs (Free Trade Agreements) reflect that as well and from Chinese point of view ”commerce is commerce and labor is labor”. Therefore, China doesn´t see labor provisions belonging to FTAs and their FTAs with other Asian countries tend to have no labor provisions included. However, the FTAs with some larger developed countries must contain labor provisions.

Where in your opinion lay mainly the historical roots of Chinese contemporary labor relations? How do you see the role of Chinese imperial history and foreign influences?

First, Professor Brown notes that he is not a Chinese historian. In his class on Chinese labor law, he starts from Mao who took a lot from Russia. Then in the 80s and 90s came legalization by Deng. During his times teaching in Peking University Law School he got to know surprisingly that the Germans had had their influence too. They had been early advisors in the development of Chinese labor law. For political reasons, China might avoid too straight western influences.

Professor Brown stresses the importance of historical understanding of Chinese law. ”When you look at the Chinese law you can´t just look at it on the face. You have to have a little bit of sense of how it evolved, where it came from, how the Chinese legal people are interpreting that.” He uses contract as an example. In China, contracts are not as fixed as in the U.S. They are more like living relationships that change over time. Another cultural-historical Chinese specialty he mentions is guanxi, the question of how close is it to corruption.

Professor Brown concludes his answer by stating how fascinating it is to follow Chinese legal development. ”It is so enjoyable. China is so varied and so different and so always coming up with something new.”

The interview and report were done by the Center’s intern, Elias Jakala.

 

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.

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.

 

INTRODUCING NEW VISITING PROFESSOR BJÖRN AHL

The Finnish China Law Center is pleased to welcome Professor Björn Ahl who will start as the new part-time visiting professor at the University of Helsinki from October 2020.

Björn Ahl is Professor and Chair of Chinese Legal Culture at the University of Cologne. He is also President of the European China Law Studies Association (ECLS).

Professor Ahl has vast experience in China law research. His research focuses on constitutional development, in particular on judicial reforms and rights litigation, in China. Chinese administrative law and practice of public international law are a further focal point of his research. Moreover, his areas of interest include comparative law, legal transfers, and legal culture, which are related to Greater China and Chinese legal development.

Professor Ahl will collaborate with the Center in multiple areas of Chinese law such as comparative law, public law, social credit system, court practice, and Chinese interpretation of international law. The collaboration aims at advancing research in Chinese law at the European level.

PROFESSOR JUHA KARHU ON THE NEW CHINESE CIVIL CODE – PART II

Today’s blog post will feature the second part of the Center’s interview with Professor Juha Karhu about his thoughts on the civil law codification project in China.

In this part, the interview focuses on the advantages and disadvantages of civil law codification, Professor Karhu’s special interest in the rights in rem discussion, and his advice for the teaching of the Chinese civil code to non-Chinese students.

Advantages and disadvantages of codification

Professor Karhu points out that prior to the Chinese civil code, various areas of civil law were already regulated in special pieces of legislation, i.e. Contract Law, Law of Real Rights, Marriage Law, Adoption Law, Inheritance Law, etc. There is no doubt that special legislation would make it simpler to target each legal problem individually and to amend the law when the desired outcome is not reached. This advantage could be lost with the codification of civil law since the Chinese legislator may close the door to making of special legislation in areas where the civil code is applicable. It is doubtful whether every problem could be solved on the basis of the general and abstract rules that form the backbone of any civil code.

One of the challenging issues, in Professor Karhu´s opinion, would be regulating digital behaviors. How would the questions regarding new digital forms of business, digital ways of interaction, social media, and so on be properly decided on the ground of such general and abstract rules? Nevertheless, special laws do not have the same unity as a civil code, and conflicts between the provisions of individual laws are inevitable. A civil code would help to mitigate these problems. Furthermore, a civil code would have the advantage of giving more weight to political, economic, and social decisions in China as long as such decisions are in line with the civil code and can be backed up by an article of the code.

Rights in rem and the civil code discussions

Professor Karhu is especially interested in following the discussions in China on the question of ownership or, more precisely, rights in rem. Private property is protected in China, but not in the same manner as in Western countries. For instance, private ownership of land is not recognized in the draft Chinese civil code. However, under rights in rem, there are rights to the land even if there is no private land ownership. This concept contains interesting Chinese characteristics. One of them flows from imperial China’s administration of land title according to which peasants and farmers could still develop certain rights on the soil of the land since skillful farmers would raise the value of the soil. The same concept did not exist in the European feudal systems.

This example also demonstrates that rights in rem are not so foreign to Chinese culture and history. Therefore, it is very important to look at how rights in rem will find their role in the development of Chinese society and economy, and what the proper level of protection and various forms of protection of private property are, particularly since these rights have defined business contexts and played an essential role in business financing as collaterals.

Teaching and the Chinese civil code

Professor Karhu has a lot of experience in teaching Chinese law. During February 2020, he taught the course ‘Chinese Civil Code 2020 – A Dream Come True?’ at the School of Law and Economy of China, Faculty of Law and Administration of the University of Warsaw. He observes that some foreign students tend to think they could learn about Chinese law simply by reading legal texts, underestimating the roles of history, culture, and politics. The truth is that no law anywhere could be taken separately from the legal culture.

Throughout his many academic visits to China, Karhu realizes that the key to teaching Chinese law is to make sure that students understand the learning tasks in such a way that these tasks involve not only reading the text of the law but understanding the legal culture as a part of Chinese culture. He also emphasizes the importance of encouraging students to be open-minded and ask questions instead of making assumptions tacitly based on their own society.

 

Juha Karhu, Emeritus Professor of Law, University of Lapland, Finland was Professor of Contract Law and Tort Law at the Law Faculty of the University of Lapland during 1993-2017. He was also Dean of the Law Faculty from 2013 to 2017. His research focuses on the foundations of commercial law, including themes like the role of legal principles in dynamic contractual networks, the methods of calculating damages in business relations, the legal protection of business assets in cooperation projects, and the role of fundamental and human rights in new global economy. His research is characterized by strong comparative perspectives. His international contacts include University of Munster (Germany), Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (London), University of Gothenburg (where he was part-time Visiting Professor 2012-2016), and Indian Development Foundation (New Delhi, one month in 2015). Professor Karhu was also active in building up his expertise on Chinese legal system, and relations with Chinese Law Schools (especially Renmin University of China School of Law). He is the honorary doctor of University of Gothenburg and University of Turku. He was also awarded the price of “Academic Lawyer of the Year” in 2019 by the Finnish Society of Lawyers, with special notice to his role in developing the co-operation between Finnish and Chinese universities and legal institutions.