The China Law Center hosted Prof. Shen Wei, Dean of Shangdong University Law School, during his visit to Finland. During his stay, Prof. Shen met with the Dean of the Helsinki University Faculty of Law, Kimmo Nuotio, and the director of the China Law School, Ulla Liukkunen to discuss collaboration opportunities between Shangdong University Law School and University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law. He also presented his research paper titled “Entanglement between Judicial Centralization and Local Protectionism in China: the Case of Arbitral Awards Enforcement” at the Center.
Shangdong University Law School, ranked 13th of over 700 law schools in China, will open its new campus in autumn 2017 in Qingdao, a small half-island between Beijing and Shanghai. Qingdao is a student-friendly area, famous for its long beaches, good beer, beautiful scenery and historical sights. The new campus, alongside the seashore of Aoshan Bay and the coastal highway, is a modern mix of Chinese and western building styles, with incorporated elements from the German colonial architecture in Qingdao. In addition to brand-new university buildings, student dormitories and convenient public transport connections right outside the university area, the campus will operate its own arts museum and a beautiful sports complex.
Prof. Shen is looking forward to start as the Dean of the Law School at the new location, and believes the opening of the new campus at Qingdao presents a good opportunity for new cooperation initiatives. Until now, cooperation between the Shangdong University Law School, the University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law and the China Law Center has been built on lecture exchanges and participation in each other’s research seminars. At his visit to the Center, Prof. Shen discussed the continuation of such cooperation with Director Liukkunen, and introduced ideas for new forms of cooperation. During his meeting with Dean Nuotio, the two deans discussed further possibilities of student exchanges between the two universities.
In an interview with the China Law Center, Prof. Shen shed light on the reasoning behind his wish to see Chinese students in Finland. “If you look outside,” Prof. Shen says, pointing to the beautiful view in the city centre of Helsinki, “it is very impressive. If Chinese students could be here for one semester and get exposed to a different legal culture, and different culture in general, they would benefit them in terms of shaping their vision for their future career and development.” The legal system in Nordic countries has raised interest in China for its emphasis on human rights protection, which is quite different from the Chinese legal culture that focuses more on collective action and collective interest. “It will be very interesting for our students to have exposure in Nordic countries. It will be good for them to spend a semester here, especially since human rights protection is one of the areas of expertise our faculty as well.”
Prof. Shen himself is an expert of business law, yet he views human rights protection as an all-encompassing topic in the field of law. “Not only human rights law is relevant to rights protection. Property rights protection, commercial rights protection, even enforcement of arbitral awards – all is relevant to rights protection.” The paper he will present at the Center is on enforcement of arbitral awards in China. “Investors who come to do business in China don’t expect the legal competence, transparency and functionality from Chinese courts that they do from courts in other countries. They prefer to resolve disputes with local parties through arbitration instead of relying on the court system.” Through arbitration, foreign parties are likely to get a favourable outcome. However, as local parties lack the willingness to enforce the arbitration awards voluntarily, foreign parties still need to rely on Chinese courts for enforcement. “In the end, foreign parties still rely on Chinese courts for human rights protection. So even though we are discussing commercial arbitration and enforcement of arbitral awards, the substantial issue is still about rights protection.”
Prof. Shen is a long-time expert in his field. He has over 10 years of experience as a law practitioner and has published widely on legal topics, including financial regulation, corporate governance, international investment law and commercial arbitration. He has held multiple professorships in various universities, including ones based in Shangdong and Hong Kong in China, as well as in Singapore and New York, and currently works as the Dean of the Shangdong University Law School. Even after the shift to academia, Prof. Shen’s experiences in Hong Kong’s law firms have left their mark, and continue to influence his vision for the future. “The most memorable thing in the private sector law firms was professionalism. People act and behave professionally, which is exactly what we are trying to teach our students.”
Author: Cristina D. Juola
Photos of the campus: Shangdong University Law School pamphlet.