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.

Programme of China Law Week 2020 announced

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

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

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

The detailed programme can be found here.

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

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

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

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

 

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:

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Professor Juha Karhu on the new Chinese Civil Code – Part I

In 2014, the civil law codification entered a new stage in China when the Central Committee of the Communist Party called for a new round of compilation in its Decisions on Major Issues Concerning Comprehensively Moving Governing the Country According to the Law Forward. The entire draft civil code shall be presented to the Congress in 2020 for the final legislative step.

In light of this development, the Finnish China Law Center had the pleasure to invite Juha Karhu, Professor (emeritus) of Contract Law and Tort Law at the Law Faculty of the University of Lapland, and the pioneer of China law research and Chinese network development in Finland, on an interview about his view on the central topics concerning civil law codification in China.

This first part of the interview discusses the motivations behind the new round of civil law codification in China, and the influence of Western law on the Chinese draft civil code.

Motivations behind civil law codification in China

According to Professor Karhu, there are three kinds of reasons behind China’s latest attempt at codification of civil law: historical reasons, political reasons and economic reasons.

Firstly, historically it is worth noticing that it takes decades to build a long-lasting civil code. In Europe, the civil codes have existed for centuries, for example, in France, the civil code has been around for over 200 years and in Germany over 100 years. Since the 1950s, there have been many attempts to draft a civil code for the People’s Republic of China, and the current round was finally taken up by the Communist Party leadership in 2014. Thus, the codification is not a novel idea but it has become a gradual process in recent Chinese history. While the previous plans were not successful, they have in effect written the key parts of the civil law legislation.

Secondly, for some, it came as a surprise that China was able to build a civil code, but Professor Karhu, having had a particular interest in various parts of Chinese civil law, could see that even during the drafting process of Contract Law, the Law of Rights in rem, and the Tort Liability Law, it was taken into consideration that the pieces of legislation would, later on, form a part of a wider civil code. Therefore, the development towards a Chinese civil code has not happened by chance, but through purposeful planning. The code strengthens the legal background of Chinese economic activities.

Lastly, from a political point of view, it has been over 40 years since China’s Reform and Opening Up in 1978. The 2014 decision of compiling a new civil code by the Chinese Communist Party reflects the idea that it was now the time to signalize economic actors both inside and outside the country that the Chinese economy has established itself so far and so strongly that writing this kind of civil code is possible. The code is of course not only for economic actors but for all Chinese people. However, Professor Karhu emphasizes that one of the main emphases has been to enable businesses and market transactions.

Influence of Western law on the Chinese draft civil code

Commenting on the influence of Western law, Professor Karhu first points out that many Western scholars, while quite knowledgeable about the Chinese legal system, tend to assume that China has adopted entire civil law models from their home countries whenever they find some similar conceptual structures, principles, and rules in the draft code. He does not believe that this is a good way to comprehend the Chinese civil code. It is obvious that to be part of the global economy, China has borrowed certain standards that come from other countries. Nevertheless, as the Chinese civil code is first and foremost a code for the people of the PRC, the Chinese characteristics are conspicuous. For example, the Chinese draft civil code employs a three-year standard duration of limitation of actions, instead of the present two years. The reasons for this change are following. Since it has been only  a little more than 40 years after the Opening Up period, the Chinese people have not been fully  accustomed to the regulations and legal norms, as well as all legal procedures to have their interests heard, which is why a two-year period would be insufficient. Meanwhile, two years would not be too short for Europeans who have been living for centuries under their civil rules.

 

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.

 

The Artic Institute’s China Series

In today’s post, the Finnish China Law Center would like to introduce the China Series created by the Arctic Institute.

The Arctic Institute is an interdisciplinary and independent think tank with a mission of developing solutions for challenges in the circumpolar north by providing data, analysis, and recommendations to policymakers, researchers, and the public.

Over the past decade, China has shown an irrefutable growth of involvement in the Arctic region. In light of this development, the Arctic Institute launched the China Series which will offer a comprehensive account of China’s policies and interests in the Arctic. The China Series will consist of numerous articles and commentaries on China’s Arctic involvement from the angles of politics, economy, environment and social impact.

In January of 2018, a white paper titled “China’s Arctic Policy” was published by  the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. It solidified and expressed China’s interest in the region by setting policy goals and plans for participation by the government. The policy goal is simply stated as understanding, protecting, developing and participating in the governance of the Arctic, so as to safeguard the common interests of all countries and the international community in the Arctic, and promote sustainable development of the Arctic. It also sets China up as “near-Arctic state” thus giving it rights in the region to conduct scientific research, navigate, perform flyovers, fish, lay submarine cables and pipelines, and even explore and exploit natural resources in the Arctic high seas.

At the time this blog post is written, the first four texts have been published in the China Series. They cover China’s involvement in Greenland, China’s black carbon emissions, US concerns about Chinese threats in the Arctic, and China’s Arctic identity. The first article “The tortuous path of China’s win-win strategy in Greenland” by Marco Volpe (MSc.) examines the improvement of bilateral relationships between China and the Arctic States by investing into the regions, doing joint research and taking on environmental and safety challenges. The second text “Reducing China’s Black Carbon Emissions: An Arctic Dimension” by Yulia Yamineva (PhD, senior researcher at the Centre for Climate, Energy and Environmental Law, University of Eastern Finland) takes an environmental angle and delves into China’s black carbon emissions. The text challenges China’s policy on black carbon emissions and highlights the importance of future co-operation because of the vast possible impact globally. The third text goes into the risks relating to China joining the “race to the North”. Titled “Defining the Chinese threat in the Arctic” and written by Yun Sun (Co-Director of the East Asia Program and Director of the China Program at the Stimson Center), it highlights how the Arctic is becoming a new domain of the power struggle between the United States and China. The fourth text of the series “Identity and Relationship-Building in China’s Arctic Diplomacy” by Marc Lanteigne (Associate Professor of Political Science at UiT-The Arctic University of Norway) touches on the importance of the relationships of China and other stakeholders in the Arctic and the identity China is forming as a part of its Arctic diplomacy.

According to the Arctic Institute, the articles will help facilitate cooperation with China in the region by promoting the understanding of the political, economic, and environmental dimensions of China’s Arctic engagement. Currently, China is involved in mostly an economic capacity through a multitude of projects such as infrastructure and mining operations. In contrast, the governance involvement of China has been rather limited. The underlying message of the China Series seems to be that it is the job of policymakers to harness this presence for the good of the region.

This blog post was written by one of the Center’s interns, Jakub Pichna. Jakub is a Master’s student at the University of Helsinki’s International Business Law program with a BSc. in Economics and Business Administration from the University of Turku.

Photo by Bahnfrend

 

New publication: Chinese Policy and Presence in the Arctic

The Finnish China Law Center is pleased to introduce the new book entitled ‘Chinese policy and presence in the Arctic’ edited by Professor Timo Koivurova and Dr. Sanna Kopra from the University of Lapland.

The book was built on and developed from the report titled ‘China in the Arctic; and the Opportunities and Challenges for Chinese-Finnish Arctic Co-operation.’ The report was published in February 2019 as part of the project ‘Finland’s Arctic Council chairmanship in the times of increasing uncertainty’ funded by the Finnish Government’s Analysis, Assessment and Research Activities unit. It drew ample attention among the media and government officials from Finland and abroad, signaling an increased interest in China’s role in the Arctic. This has encouraged the authors to diversify and expand their approach to the theme.

The book offers an overview of China’s economic engagements in the Arctic, China’s policy regarding Arctic governance, and how it has evolved during the past years. It also discusses China’s interests and strategies in the region, and the initiatives the country has offered. It should be noted that the book is centered around economic and governance aspects, rather than the geopolitics implications of China’s involvement in the Arctic and its interaction with other players in the region.

‘Chinese policy and presence in the Arctic’ is the first comprehensive account of China’s endeavors in the Arctic region. ‘The book is unique in the sense that it does not follow the predominant alarmist approach which views China as a threat, but attempts to provide an objective analytical analysis of Chinese Arctic policy’, said Dr. Sanna Kopra. Since extensive reviews of China’s policy and presence in the Arctic are scarce, the book poses as a valuable contribution to the current collection of scholarly work on the topic and a must-read for students and scholars of China studies and Arctic affairs.

The book also offered an opportunity for the authors to focus on the environmental issues relating to China’s presence in the Arctic. The chapter ‘China, Climate Change and the Arctic Environment’ examines in great detail China’s ecological footprint in the Arctic and its role in international efforts to tackle climate change and pollution. ‘This is something that has not been discussed in this length in the existing literature’, added Dr. Sanna Kopra.

The book is available on the publisher’s website at https://brill.com/view/title/55687.

Björn Ahl and the pursuit of interest in Chinese law research

Björn Ahl is Professor and Chair of Chinese Legal Culture at the University of Cologne. He currently holds the position of President of the European China Law Studies Association. The Finnish China Law Center had the pleasure to conduct an interview with him on his personal experience and recommendations for students and young professionals in researching Chinese law.

Professor Ahl began with his law studies at the University of Heidelberg in the 1990s and spent one year at the Law School of Nanjing University as an exchange student to improve his Chinese and take classes in Chinese law. According to him, foreign students in Chinese law schools were very rare at that time. ‘It was quite an open atmosphere among students, and we had fascinating discussions about Chinese and international law issues’, he reminisced. After finishing his law studies in Germany, he worked for some time at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg, and then went back to Nanjing University to become the Associate Director of the Sino German Institute of Legal Studies. The interactions with Chinese colleagues and students during these times and being able to witness Chinese law’s rapid development had profoundly shaped his interests at this early stage of his career.

The focuses of Professor Ahl’s research include Chinese public law, comparative law and Chinese positions on public international law, and his main interests have always been comparative law and public international law. In his doctoral dissertation, he studied the application of international treaties in China. Since then, Chinese scholarship of public international law and Chinese state practice of public international law have become more and more relevant and complex topics.

During his teaching and research in Cologne, Professor Ahl has contextualized Chinese law by applying a concept of legal culture in order to tackle the challenges of studying Chinese law from an external and comparative perspective. He observed that while the context of law is regularly omitted in doctrinal legal research that takes an internal, participant-oriented approach to its object of study, external factors are more relevant for the understanding of foreign law if the people who study such law do not share the same preconceptions and preconceived attitudes as those who create and apply the law. Therefore, an approach to the research of Chinese law that is specifically sensitive to the historical, political, economic and institutional conditions of the creation, application and enforcement of law appears most suitable to avoid misconceptions and misrepresentations about the meaning and operation of Chinese law.

When being asked about the methodologies for conducting research in the field of Chinese law from the perspective of a foreign researcher, he pointed out that the answer to this question depends on the research question that the researcher wishes to pursue. However, if one likes to investigate a doctrinal question, he suggested that the researcher should not entirely omit context factors, in particular, if he or she takes a comparative approach. Otherwise, the researcher may end up with false or misleading results. He contended that this applies to the study of any foreign jurisdiction and does not pertain exclusively to Chinese law.

The interview concluded with Professor Ahl’s advice for students and young professionals wanting to go into researching Chinese law. He remarked that the fundamental basis of any meaningful research in Chinese law is a good proficiency in Chinese language. The next asset would excellent training in Chinese law. He recommended enrolling in a Chinese law school through an exchange programme as the most practical way to have the first exposure to Chinese law. He additionally noted that it would be very useful to get an insight into how law works in practice, which can be done through an internship in a Chinese law firm.

The Centre hereby takes the chance to express our gratitude to Professor Ahl for taking the time to participate in our Featured Researchers interview series.