Introducing the China-EU School of Law

In recent years, China has grown to be one of world’s largest economies, being second only to the USA. The GDP increase also means that the living standards of many Chinese have risen and that the government had the necessary resources to further develop China’s legal system. For example, criminal law has changed tremendously, but so did the economic system in order to attract foreign investors. Thus, as a consequence of both globalisation and the increasing importance of China, the need for legal professionals who can effectively combine European and Chinese law has grown as well.

In this post, the Finnish China Law Center would like to introduce The China-EU School of Law (CESL), a manifestation of Sino-European cooperation.  CESL officially opened on 23rd October 2008 at the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing. It was funded and established by the European Union and the People’s Republic of China. Moreover, it is the only Chinese-European school of law worldwide. For the last decade, CESL has devoted its resources to educating the Chinese and international lawyers of tomorrow. Additionally, it provides professional training for lawyers, prosecutors, judges and civil servants and promoted research and collaboration in order to develop a society based on the rule of law. Thus, the school has successfully become a medium for legal education, research, exchanges and, most importantly, a bridge between the EU and China.

The international academic alliance between 13 European Universities and 3 Chinese universities and institutions is coordinated by the Faculty of Law at Universität Hamburg. Over the years, more than 10.000 Chinese and European students and law practitioners have participated in the school’s activities and there are around 400 students every year. The master’s programme appeals to both Chinese and international students as it provides the essential elements to thrive in the competitive legal field.  While European students can enrol in the English-taught Master of European and International Law (LL.M.), Chinese students can study a Double Master’s programme which combines the LL.M. with a Chinese-taught Master of Chinese Law. Additionally, a new English-taught International Master of Chinese Law for international students will begin in 2019. Furthermore, there are academic exchange options as well: European students can study in China for one semester, while Chinese master students can do an exchange in Europe for two months and Chinese PhD students can spend up to a year in Europe.

Photo credit: China-EU School of Law

Regarding research, the China-EU School of Law focus on examining the legal issues that affect both China and Europe. Thus, the school promotes and enables research on Chinese law, European law, International law etc. Additionally, it is also a forum for legal discussion, as its partners and associates contribute to its research network. The school is ideal for those who enjoy a comparative approach to law, as European students learn about Chinese law and culture and Chinese scholars expand their international law knowledge. Apart from this, the school also offers courses and training for legal professionals who want to broaden their horizons on international matters.

At its 10-year anniversary last year, Mr. Nicolas Chapuis, Ambassador of the EU, stated that: “Since its establishment 10 years ago, CESL has proven to be a center of excellence in legal education. It also has created a unique platform for exchange between Chinese and European students, scholars and legal practitioners, promoting and fostering mutual understanding and learning. Those exchanges can contribute considerably to more and better cooperation in an ever more connected world.”

Furthermore, the celebration offered an amazing opportunity to reflect on the development of the school over the years and on the state of contemporary legal academic cooperation. Various high-level representatives (such as EU Ambassador Chapuis and the former Minister of Justice Mr. Zhang Fusen) and alumni had the chance to share their experiences and insights with current students and members of the CESL network.

To conclude, CELS has majorly contributed not only to creating an enduring alliance between China and the EU, but also as an exceptional example of international cooperation for other countries and continents.

(Thanks to Ms. Adelina G. Dobrila for contributing text for this article).