The annual Sino-Finnish Days, held at the Nordic Center in Fudan University, represented yet another important initiative in a year marked by a growing number of legal research and education activities between China and the Nordic countries.

The two day conference provided a platform for Chinese and Finnish researchers to meet and share perspectives on areas of common interest.

The themes of this year’s conference, held on 24 and 25 October, were children and youth, education, environment and public health.

Associate Professor Suvianna Hakalehto, one of Finland’s leading scholars of child law and education law, was a member of the large Finnish delegation.

Based in the Faculty of Law of the University of Eastern Finland, a member institution of the Finnish China Law Center, Professor Hakalehto gave a presentation titled ‘From Social Problem to Rights Holders: Development of Children’s Rights in legislation and in legal research in Finland’.

According to Professor Hakalehto, the conference proved an excellent opportunity to discuss in-depth a range of issues of critical, and growing, importance to both China and the Nordic countries.

‘China is grappling with many of the same challenges as Finland the Nordic countries, including how to fully respect the rights and interests of children’, Professor Hakalehto says. ‘The chance to meet and share knowledge with Chinese colleagues working on these issues proved beneficial to both sides, and provided an enlightening comparative framework through which to develop the law and policies of our respective countries’.

The Finnish delegation also included representatives from other member institutions of the Finnish China Law Center, including Professor Heli Ruokama of the University of Lapland, Professor Jussi Kauhanen of the University of Tampere, and Professor Gyöngyi Kovacs from the Hanken School of Economics.

This year’s conference was a part of the Finland 100 festivities and was organized by the Finnish member universities of the Nordic Centre Fudan University.

Fudan University, a key partner in China of the Finnish Center of Chinese Law and Chinese Legal Culture.


International and comparative child protection research is in great demand in China, as the country continues to develop its child welfare policies and child protection practices.

The Sino-Finnish Center for Child Protection Research, led by Professor Zhao Fang, Director of the Department of Social Work in Fudan University, is well-placed to provide high-level expertise and experience needed to meet this increasing demand.

The Center is a joint project between Fudan University and the University of Eastern Finland, a member institution of the Finnish China Law Center.

The Center’s main goal is to promote interdisciplinary research and education in the fields of child welfare and child protection, says Associate Professor Suvianna Hakalehto.

A child law and education law scholar, Professor Hakalehto is a member of the Scientific Committee of the Center and one of her forthcoming projects with the Center concerns the position of migrant children in China.

The project will also involve Professor Juha Hämäläinen, also of the University of Eastern Finland, and Professor Yuan Ren, Deputy Director of the Institute of Population Research at the University of Fudan.

‘Contemporary Chinese welfare ideology and policies aim at negotiating and merging the traditional family concept and beliefs expressing a hundred years’ development and the modern civilization of late’, Professor Hakalehto says.

‘In research concerning the rights of children, and the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, it is important to pay attention to cultural aspects’.

‘For me, learning about the Chinese legal system and the country’s child protection paradigm has been personally enriching and professionally rewarding’, says Professor Hakalehto. ‘I hope to contribute to the Chinese discussion about the legal position of children’.

During her visit in October 2017 to the Center, Professor Hakalehto met Professor Lu Zhian, a Professor of Law at the Fudan University School of Law.

One of China’s leading scholars in the field, Professor Zhian invited Professor Hakalehto to Fudan University in 2018 to lecture on human rights in the school environment.


(Left to right) Professor Juha Hämäläinen, Professor Suvianna Hakalehto and Professor Lu Zhian

‘This is a great opportunity, and I look forward to another exciting visit to China and to learning more about the Chinese legal system and Chinese cultural generally’, Professor Hakalehto says.

Finnish China Law Center hosts seminar ‘Juvenile Offenders in China and Finland’ with Senior Chinese Judges from Yunnan Province

On 21 November 2017, the Finnish Center of Chinese Law and Chinese Legal Culture, with member institutions the University of Helsinki (Faculty of Law) and the Finnish Institute of Criminology and Legal Policy, hosted a bilateral legal seminar with six senior judges from the Chinese province of Yunnan. Yunnan is situated in the south of China and has a population of roughly 50 million.

The theme for the seminar was ‘Juvenile Offenders in China and Finland’.

The Chinese delegation was headed by Mr. Li Xuesong, Vice President of the High People’s Court of Yunnan Province. Mr Lu Xiaokun, Chief Judge of the High People’s Court of Yunnan Province, was also a member of the delegation.

The Finnish speakers in the bilateral seminar were Dean Kimmo Nuotio, Professor of Criminal Law and the University of Helsinki, Professor Ulla Liukkunen, Director of the Finnish China Law Center, and Professor Tapio Lappi-Seppälä, Director of the Finnish Institute of Criminology and Legal Policy. Other contributors included Professor Sakari Melander and Dr Yihong Zhang, among other academics present from the University of Helsinki. Both the University of Helsinki and the Finnish Institute of Criminology and Legal Policy are member institutions of the Finnish China Law Center.


Professor Tapio Lappi-Seppälä, Professor and Director of the Finnish Institute of Criminology and Legal Policy, and Board Member of the Finnish Center of Chinese Law and Chinese Legal Culture, speaking with Professor Kimmo Nuotio on ‘Juvenile Offenders in Finland: General Situation, Trial Proceedings, Rights Protection and Best Interests of the Child Principle’ on 21 November 2017 in the Law Faculty of the University of Helsinki.

During his presentation, Vice President Li underscored that the treatment of children and the centrality of the ‘best interests of the child’ principle are paramount. ‘Governments everywhere’, he said, ‘should take care of children and strive to create better conditions, including educational opportunities, to promote the healthy development of youth’. Vice President Li also emphasized that the treatment of juvenile offenders by the criminal justice system was an issue the Yunnan legal system takes very seriously. Yunnan province has advanced the protection of children in its criminal justice system in a number of ways. ‘For example’, Vice President Li said, ‘we are strengthening judicial institutions and training judges to better deal with juvenile justice issues…and constantly innovating to improve the treatment of children in the court system’.

A notable initiative by the Yunnan judicial system was collaboration with the Save the Children charity to ensure the protection of juvenile offenders and promote judicial diversion through inter-departmental cooperation and the establishment of a community support system. Begun in the Panlong District Court, this international cooperation spread throughout Yunnan province and then beyond. ‘After a long period of practice and exploration, this project became known as the ‘Panlong Mode’ and has had a great impact within the whole of China’, Vice President Li told participants. Overall, Yunnan province was experiencing a decrease in the total number of criminals, the total number of juvenile offenders, and the proportion of juvenile offenders.

Professors Nuotio and Lappi-Seppälä noted that while there were differences between the Chinese and Finnish approaches to juvenile offenders, the similarities in terms of underlying principles and many aspects of the treatment of juveniles in court were notable.

During his presentation, Lappi-Seppälä gave an overview of the ‘Nordic’ model of the treatment of juvenile offenders, noting that the state criminal justice system operates independently alongside municipal child protection services, with the primary emphasis in dealing with juvenile crime lying with child welfare and social services.

Professor Lappi-Seppälä noted that the criminal justice system and child welfare institutions operated under different principles. ‘Child welfare interventions are undertaken under the principle of the ‘best interests of the child’, Professor Lappi-Seppälä observed. ‘All such interventions are supportive and criminal acts have little or no formal role. In contrast, on the ‘criminal justice side’, specific penalties applicable to juveniles are restricted – but now expanding – and the general structure is as follows: diversion, fines, community alternatives, and the finally, custody’.

During their presentation, Professors Nuotio and Lappi-Seppälä shared a number of statistics about juvenile offenders in Finland. Of particular interest to the Chinese judges was the fact that at present, there are only five children aged 15-17 in custody in Finland, a figure so low that it also surprised those more familiar with Finland’s legal system.



Professor Ulla Liukkunen, speaking at the ‘Juvenile Delinquency in China and Finland’ seminar in the Law Faculty of the University of Helsinki on 21 November 2017.

During its visit to Finland, the delegation of judges will also visit the Finnish Ministry of Justice and the District Court of Helsinki.

The importance of the visit to Finland by senior judges should not be underestimated. The delegation visited Finland to learn from its experience because of Finland’s, and more generally the Nordic region’s, international reputation in reducing the total number and proportion of juvenile offenders, and to reducing to virtually zero the number of children in custody. As Professor Nuotio noted, the population of Yunnan province, at close to 50 million, was around double that of the all the Nordic countries together. Given the size of Yunnan province, even a small change in judicial practice, therefore, would affect the lives of a great many children.


Organizers and participants of the bilateral seminar on ‘Juvenile Delinquency in China and Finland’ (left to right): Stuart Mooney (Finnish China Law Center / University of Helsinki); Li Kunbin (High People’s Court of Yunnan); Lu Xiaokun (High People’s Court of Yunnan Province); Professor Tapio Lappi-Seppälä (Finnish Institute of Criminology and Legal Policy); Li Xuesong (High People’s Court of Yunnan Province); Professor Kimmo Nuotio (University of Helsinki); Yin Dekun (Pu’er Intermediate People’s Court); Yihong Zhang (University of Helsinki); Chen Chang (Yuxi Intermediate People’s Court); Zhu Chongfang (Chuxiong Intermediate People’s Court). Absent: Professor Ulla Liukkunen, Director of the Finnish Center of Chinese Law and Chinese Legal Culture.


Following the seminar, the judges were given a tour of the China Center Collection, housed in the University of Helsinki’s main library, Kaisa-talo. Special thanks to librarians Leena Huovinen and Eeva Henriksson for giving the tour and for their efforts in supporting the growing collection of publications in the Collection on Chinese law and legal culture.


Mr. Li Xuesong, Vice President of the High People’s Court of Yunnan Province, with other members of the judicial delegation visiting Finland from China, touring the China Law Center collection in the University of Helsinki’s main library.


8th Sino-Finnish Comparative Law Seminar a ‘tremendous success’

On 28-29 August 2017, the Finnish Center of Chinese Law and Chinese Legal Culture organized the 8th Sino-Finnish Bilateral Seminar on Comparative Law. The seminar is held annually and its location alternates between China and Finland. This year the seminar was hosted by two of the Finnish China Law Center’s member institutions, the University of Helsinki and University of Tampere.

CASS Law delegation in Finland

The value of the seminar as a vehicle for meaningful legal collaboration and comparative law exchange was underscored by the visit of six academics from a leading Chinese research and education institution, the Chinese Academy of Social Science (CASS) Institute of Law. These distinguished academics included the Director of the Institute of Law, Professor Li Lin, and Professor Xie Zengyi.

Both of these well-respected academics have had long connections with the Finnish China Law Center. The seminar also brought together researchers from universities across Finland, including active representation and participation from most of the Center’s 10 member institutions.

Professor Li Lin, Director of the CASS Institute of Law, at the opening of the bilateral seminar

Strengthening Finnish – and Nordic – bilateral cooperation 

According to Professor Li Lin, this year’s seminar was a ‘tremendous success’. A sentiment repeated throughout the seminar was the importance of further deepening legal education and research collaboration between not just Finland and China, but China and other Nordic countries.

As was underscored by Professor Li Lin, Professor Kimmo Nuotio, Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Helsinki, and Professor Ulla Liukkunen, Director of the Finnish China Law Center, the long and rich historical relationship between Finland and China provides fertile ground in which deepening cooperation can flourish.

The importance of strengthening bilateral legal education and research between Finland and China transcends the historical connections linking the two countries.

Professor Li Lin highlighted four key areas of mutual concern. First, there is significant alignment between China’s values and ideas and the concept of solidarity in the Nordic context. Second, there is overlap between the goals of China and Finland’s social security systems, with China seeking to actively learn from the Nordic welfare model. Third, environmental rights are an area of mutual concern, with China transitioning towards ‘Green China’ and emphasizing the importance of having an ‘ecological civilization’. And fourth, the rule of law, human rights and judicial cooperation are areas of joint interest.

While China’s legal system has changed significantly in these respects, there ‘still remains much to be done’, Professor Li Lin said.

Seminar co-organizer Professor Jukka Viljanen from the University of Tampere echoed these thoughts. He observed that it is important that we recognize Finland and China face common issues, which can be fruitfully approached from a comparative law perspective.

(Left to right) Professor Ulla Liukkunen, Director of the Finnish China Law Center; Professor Li Lin, Director of the CASS Institute of Law; and Professor Kimmo Nuotio, Chair of the Board of the Finnish China Law Center and Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki.

The seminar tradition is not simply a unique opportunity for the robust exchange of views on areas of mutual concern. Rather, it has also been a practical forum that may result in new bilateral research projects, like the one on law and gender, as Professor Liukkunen underscored.

In China, the bilateral seminars and resulting collaboration impacted on policy-making. Professor Li Lin noted that ‘the exchange of knowledge, experience and expertise have manifested themselves in reports that have influenced Chinese decision makers’.

‘So while this is an academic platform’, Professor Li Lin said, ‘it has a practical impact on development of rule of law in China and its modernization. It has a real impact’.

Among other concrete proposals for expanding the relationship between CASS and the member institutions of the Finnish China Law Center, Professor Li Lin said CASS’s new university provides an additional ‘platform to further expand our cooperation’.

Thematic areas of the seminar

This year’s seminar covered four legal fields. Focusing on such a multidimensional spectrum of issues provided rich opportunities for comparative assessments. Comparisons were made not just between Finnish and Chinese law and legal practice, but with the Nordic legal model more broadly.

The first legal field to be discussed was child law. This involved presentations by Associate Professor Suvianna Hakalehto from the University of Eastern Finland and Professor Xie Zengyi from the CASS Institute of Law. University Lecturer Dr. Niina Mäntylä, from the University of Vaasa, added comments and stimulated a lively discussion on children’s rights at school and China’s ‘Two Child Policy’.

Professor Jukka Viljanen from the University of Tampere, co-organizer of the conference, giving his presentation on the environmental right in the Finnish constitution

The second thematic area covered was transport law. Professor Ellen Eftestöl-Wilhelmsson from the University of Helsinki spoke on the role of environmental information in promoting a sustainable transport industry. Associate Professor Li Zhong from the CASS Institute of Law gave an overview of developments in Chinese transport law in China. Lastly, Professor Lena Sisula-Tulokas adroitly drew out common themes, parallels and challenges facing both Finland and the Nordic countries.

A third thematic area analyzed was public procurement. University Lecturer Dr Kristian Siikavirta shared his knowledge of the European and Finnish public procurement systems and how they work based on his research at the University of Vaasa.

Associate Professor Wang Xiaomei presented her impressively data-driven research undertaken in the CASS Institute of Law into transparency in public procurement in China. In her comments, Post-Doctoral Researcher Dr. Zhang Yihong, based in the University of Helsinki, identified broader political/legal implications of the presentations and highlighted areas of further research.

Environmental law was the final area to be discussed. This was clearly a field of significant mutual interest. Professor Antti Belinskij, based at the University of Eastern Finland, discussed international Water Conventions and Finnish-Russian cooperation. Professor Li Honglei from the CASS Institute of Law spoke on judicial review of environmental impact assessment decision-making in China. In summing up, Dr Yulia Yamineva drew upon her experience as a Senior Researcher in the University of Eastern Finland and provided comments drawing together both comparative and international law dimensions.

Other presentations on environmental law were given by Professor Jukka Viljanen, who enlightened listeners on the environmental right in the Finnish constitution. Professor Viljanen’s talk provided a departure point for another visiting CASS Institute of Law researcher, Associate Professor Jin Shanming, to reflect on the constitutional protection of environmental rights in China. University Teacher Heta Heiskanen from the University of Tampere then highlighted how international human rights obligations contribute to environmental rights in Finland. Finally, Post-Doctoral Researcher Sanna Kopra from the University of Lapland identified key comparative law insights that formed the basis of a subject of lively discussion among participants on environmental rights in China and Finland.

Upcoming book publication

Reflecting the high quality of speeches and discussions over the two days, presentations given during the seminar will form the basis for chapters in an upcoming book to be published by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Concluding thoughts

Professor Ulla Liukkunen delivering remarks at the closing ceremony, highlighting the importance of comparative law collaboration and scholarship

The annual bilateral seminars play an important role in building legal research and education links between Finland and China. With such positive outcomes, this year’s seminar paves the way for future opportunities for Finnish and Chinese universities and research institutions to collaborate.

As Professor Liukkunen emphasized in her closing remarks, the seminar again highlighted the relevance of comparative law including the growing significance of the Nordic model in Chinese policy and academic circles.

‘We make comparisons’, Professor Liukkunen concluded. ‘We must realize that what appear to be similar can in fact be different. We need to have tools and equip ourselves to deal with obstacles and challenges in this undertaking, for which this seminar is a unique setting’.

Next year’s bilateral comparative law seminar will be held in China.


Associate Professor Li Zhong, CASS Institute of Law, with Professor Pia Letto-Vanamo, University of Helsinki, inspecting the China Law Center Collection in the main University of Helsinki library