CHINA LAW WEEK 2020 SESSION 4: REFORM AND EMERGING ISSUES IN CHINESE PRIVATE LAW AND THE COURT SYSTEM

Chair of the session, Professor Jukka Mähönen, 23 October 2020

The China Law Week 2020 closed with a session on “Reform and Emerging issues in Chinese Private Law and the Court System”. It was chaired by Jukka Mähönen, Professor of Cooperative Law at the University of Helsinki and Professor of Law at the University of Oslo.

 

Professor Jin Haijun speaking on “Legal Reform and the New Chinese Civil Code: An Introduction”, 23 October 2020

In the first presentation, Professor Jin Haijun from Renmin University gave a brief insight into the Chinese newly made civil law codification. The new Chinese Civil Code was adopted in May 2020 and will be effective from the beginning of next year. Even though the Civil Code is new, Professor Haijun emphasized that most parts of its legislation are not new. For instance, already existing corporative law was basically incorporated in the new civil code. According to Professor Haijun, intellectual property rules were a hot topic during the drafting of the code. Professor Juha Karhu from the University of Lapland commented on the presentation by mentioning for example the way that the code was built putting together different pieces.

Professor Juha Karhu speaking on “Nordic Perspective on the New Chinese Civil Code”, 23 October 2020

Professor Karhu then proceeded with his presentation on the Nordic perspective on the new Chinese Civil Code. Some civil codes of the modern time were discussed, and their economic, political, and cultural background were explored to see why and how the codes were born. The presenter talked about the French Civil Code, the German “Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch”, the situation in the US, and the Chinese Civil Code 2020. Notably, the Chinese Civil Code is based on the economic rise with the opening-up policy and the socialist market economy. The Code also shows Chinese characteristics. It is inspired by various legal systems, but the systematic nature is based on the endemic questions in China.

Dr. Kangle Zhang speaking on “Emerging Issues in Chinese Finance & Business Law”, 23 October 2020

The third presentation was given by Dr. Kangle Zhang from Peking University Law School about emerging issues in Chinese finance & business law. In Dr. Zhang’s opinion, China is moving towards financial liberalization. There is a trend of providing necessary capital and offering the customers better returns than bank deposits. The establishment of Shanghai pilot free trade zone helps ease legal burden for trading and financial purposes.

 

Dr. Wei Qian speaking on “Do Positive Disability Policies Promote Social Inclusion of the Disabilities in China?”, 23 October 2020

The fourth presentation was held by Dr. Wei Qian from the China University of Labour Relations, School of Labour Relations and Human Resources. The pandemic raised a number of issues where the group of disabled elderly people were particularly affected. Local governments in China were fast to enact new policy, and set disabled people, as well as children and elderly people as priority groups that will receive special attention in any big crisis. Dr. Qian talked about how disability policies in China promote the social inclusion of disabled people and how the policies changed under the current Covid-19 situation.

Professor Björn Ahl speaking on “Chinese Court Reforms and their Impact on Decision Making”, 23 October 2020

The last presentation of the day and the China Law Week was held by Björn Ahl, Professor and Chair of Chinese Legal Culture at the University of Cologne. He outlined the Chinese court reforms and their impact on decision making. According to Professor Ahl, there has been a contradiction in the reform dynamics between law and the political context within the judicial reform in China. This reform can be seen from a political context where there has been an enhanced dominant party state with violations of human rights. On the other hand, reform of the legal institutions has taken place where judges enjoy more autonomy in decision making to an extent that they never have been.

 

With 19 chairs and speakers from 7 countries and over 70 participants from 15 countries, the China Law Week 2020 had connected people with interest in Chinese law and legal culture from all over the world. Offering presentations and discussions on a broad spectrum of topics, the event had provided a valuable opportunity to learn more about the latest developments in the world of Chinese law.

The Finnish China Law Center would like to thanks the chairs, speakers, and participants conference for having made the China Law Week 2020 a resounding success. We hope to see you again in the Nordic China Law Week 2021!

 

The Center would like to thank our interns, Elias Jakala, Anwar Al-Hamidi, Anqi Xiang, Annette Rapo, and Johanna Fähnrich for contributing text for this article.

CHINA LAW WEEK 2020 SESSION 1: CHINESE LAW AND LEGAL CULTURE – A DIVERSITY OF APPROACHES

The China Law Week 2020 kicked off with the first session entitled “Chinese Law and Legal Culture – a Diversity of Approaches”. The session was chaired by Professor Pia Letto-Vanamo, Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki.

Chair of the session, Professor Pia Letto-Vanamo  speaking on “Taking Account of History When Researching Contemporary Law”, 20 October 2020

The session began with a presentation titled “Taking account of History When Researching Contemporary Law” by Professor Letto-Vanamo. She emphasized the importance of history when researching comparative differences. In Professor Letto-Vanamo´s opinion, knowledge of contemporary politics alone is not sufficient to understand the reasons for comparative differences. She found that the only way to understand Chinese Law is to understand its history, not just legal history but for instance philosophical history and general Chinese mentality as well.

Professor Björn Ahl speaking on “Different Approaches to Chinese Legal Culture”, 20 October 2020

In the second presentation of the session, Professor Björn Ahl from the University of Cologne discussed the different approaches to Chinese legal culture. He first explained the Chinese legal culture, observing that Chinese legal culture as a residual concept lacks explanatory value, invites essentialized approaches to Chinese culture, and more prone to legal orientalism. Professor Ahl then introduced the Chinese legal culture in law-related Chinese studies at the University of Cologne, pointing out that learning Chinese law needs to start from an external and comparative perspective.

Associate Professor Joanna Grzybek speaking on “Dispute Resolution in China: A Language Perspective “, 20 October 2020

The third presentation on “Dispute Resolution in China: A Language Perspective” was given by Associate Professor Joanna Grzybek from Jagiellonian University in Kraków, who is also Deputy Head of the Polish Centre for Law and Economy of China. Professor Grzybek started by giving the overall legal status regarding dispute resolution in China. She stated that due consideration should be given to how language affects international communication and our frames of mind. She stressed that not only legal, but also historical and sociological angles are needed in legal linguistics research.

Professor Johanna Niemi speaking on “Law and Gender: Finnish and Chinese Perspectives”, 20 October 2020

Professor Johanna Niemi from the University of Turku gave the next presentation on “Law and Gender: Finnish and Chinese Perspectives”. She focused on the positioning of the researcher while doing research in another culture and especially when working with the experts from a society different from the one the researcher is custom to. She highlighted the importance of remembering that post-colonial is not just history in many countries but something that still has an impact on the work culture and relationships to other countries even today.

Professor Kimmo Nuotio speaking on “Criminal Law in the Context of Rule of Law: Finnish and Chinese Perspectives”, 20 October 2020

The session closed with the last presentation about “Criminal Law in the Context of Rule of Law: Finnish and Chinese Perspectives” by Professor Kimmo Nuotio from the University of Helsinki. Professor Nuotio talked about how differently Finland and China approach criminal law and the concept of rule of law. In Finland, criminal law has to be compliant with the constitution, meaning that the state must ensure the protection of every individuals’ rights as well as the division of powers and an independent judiciary. In China, however, criminal law has a long tradition of enforcing justice with harsh methods and not guaranteeing fundamental rights or independence of the judiciary.

The Center would like to thank our interns, Elias Jakala, Li Yuan, Anwar Al-Hamidi, Sukhman Gill and Johanna Fähnrich for contributing text for this article.

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).

 

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.

Nordic scholars meeting of China law activities

A Nordic meeting of Nordic level collaboration in China law activities was held after the 10th Sino-Finnish bilateral seminar. The meeting took place at the Headquarters of the Nordic Investment Bank in Helsinki on 11 June 2019. The meeting was attended by representatives of Universities of Helsinki, Turku, Eastern Finland, Örebro, Lund, Oslo, Copenhagen and Peking.

The participants were received by the Bank’s General Counsel and Head of Legal Department Heikki Cantell who gave the Nordic delegation an insightful introduction to the history, culture and mission of the Bank.

After the introduction, the delegation was given a presentation on the enforcement of transnational labour standards by international financial institutions from a Chinese perspective by Associate Professor Chen Yifeng from Peking University.

In the meeting, the participants discussed developing Nordic China law cooperation in terms of research and education activities where synergy could be sought by joint activities. Professor Ulla Liukkunen introduced recent Center activities that have a Nordic dimension. Several future opportunities were discussed and will be developed further under the preparation of the China Law Center and the Faculty of Law of the University of Helsinki.

Front row (left to right): Assistant Professor Wen Xiang (University of Copenhagen), Associate Senior Lecturer Ana Nordberg, Professor Ulla Liukkunen (University of Helsinki), Professor Ditlev Tamm (University of Copenhagen), Associate Professor Chen Yifeng (Peking University). Back row: Mr. Heikki Cantell (General Counsel and Head of Legal Department, Nordic Investment Bank), Professor Tuomas Hupli (University of Turku), Professor Laura Ervo (Örebro University), Postdoctoral Researcher Harriet Lonka (University of Eastern Finland), Professor Jukka Mähönen (University of Helsinki & University of Oslo), Professor Matti Nojonen (University of Lapland), Professor Kimmo Nuotio (University of Helsinki), Mr. Jani Mustonen (Coordinator, Finnish China Law Center/University of Helsinki), Mr. Stuart Mooney (Executive Assistant in the Legal Department, Nordic Investment Bank). Photo credit: Pamela Schönberg.

(Thanks to Mr. Jani Mustonen for contributing text for this article).

REPORT OF THE FIRST FOUR YEARS OF THE CHINA LAW CENTER

The Finnish Center of Chinese Law and Chinese Legal Culture is pleased to announce the publication of the Report on its First Four Years (2013-2016).

Cover of the Finnish Center of Chinese Law and Chinese Legal Culture First Four Years Report Report (2013-2016).

The Report contains detailed information about the Center’s objectives and successes and the China law-related activities of its 10 member institutions.

The Report can be viewed and downloaded here.

Questions or comments about the Report are encouraged. Please direct them to Stuart Mooney, Coordinator of the Finnish China Law Center, at stuart.mooney (at) helsinki.fi.

Peking University Vice President Visits University of Helsinki, Discusses Latest Developments in Legal Education and Research Cooperation

In a further sign of the strong and growing academic ties between the two institutions, a senior delegation from Peking University, lead by Vice President Tian Gang, has visited the University of Helsinki.

The visiting delegation included five other senior scholars and officials from the university and took place between 19 – 22 October. Peking University is consistently ranked as one of the best and most reputable higher education and research institutions globally.

The visit proved a valuable opportunity for the visiting delegation to deepen its knowledge of the University of Helsinki’s cutting-edge interdisciplinary education and research initiatives, including in the legal field, and to discuss mutual internationalization efforts.

Since 2015, Peking University has been a strategic partner of the University of Helsinki, which is one of the 10 member institutions of the Finnish China Law Center. Earlier this year, the University of Helsinki awarded Peking University a silver medal in honour of its 120th anniversary.

During the visit, the Peking University delegation met with Professor Jari Niemelä, Rector of the University of Helsinki, as well as with Vice Rector Hanna Snellman, deans of various faculties, Dr Anna-Maria Salmi, Head of Development of International Affairs, and other senior scholars from the University of Helsinki.

During a visit to the University of Helsinki, Peking University Vice President Tian Gang (pictured fourth from left) and other members of the visiting delegation met with University of Helsinki Rector Jari Niemelä (center of picture), Vice Rector Hanna Snellman (pictured third from left), Director of the Finnish China Law Center Ulla Liukkunen (pictured fourth from right in front row) and other senior scholars from the University of Helsinki.

Professor Ulla Liukkunen, Director of the Finnish China Law Center and Board Member of the European China Law Studies Association 欧洲中国法研究协会, also met with the delegation and senior University of Helsinki leaders to discuss topical issues in legal education and research cooperation.

During her presentation, Professor Liukkunen noted that the Finnish China Law Center had for many years received strong input to developing its core activities from the Peking University Law School, which has worked together with the Finnish China Law Center and its member institutions on many research projects, as well as co-organized a number of international academic conferences, seminars and other events.

Professor Liukkunen also underscored her personal gratitude to friends and colleagues in Peking University Law School, including Professor Zhang Shouwen, Professor Ye Jingyi, Professor Li Ming, Professor Liang Genlin, Associate Professor Su Jiang, Assistant Professor Yan Tian and many others whose contributions have led to strong Sino-Finnish cooperation across different fields of law.

In addition, Professor Liukkunen noted that Professor Chen Yifeng of Peking University continues to play a key role in forging strong strategic legal research and education relationship between the universities, and increasingly China and the Nordic countries more broadly.

Details of the extensive legal education and research outcomes between the University of Helsinki and Peking University, including a number of Academy of Finland-funded projects, can be found in the Finnish China Law Center: Report on its First Four Years, published in 2017.

 

CASS LAW INSTITUTE, FACULTY OF LAW OF THE UNIVERSITY OF HELSINKI AND FINNISH CHINA LAW CENTER PLAN TO DEEPEN RESEARCH COLLABORATION

On 20 September 2018, Professor Pia Letto-Vanamo, Dean of the Faculty of Law of the University of Helsinki and Professor Ulla Liukkunen, Director of the Finnish China Law Center met with Professor Chen Su, Director of the Institute of Law of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, to discuss plans to advance collaboration.

During the meeting, Professor Chen said he was proud of the existing collaboration and expressed CASS Law Institute’s wish to continue to deepen collaboration with ongoing facilitation and coordination carried out by the Finnish China Law Center.

Professor Chen also noted that he was pleased with the outcomes of joint research collaboration, especially labour law research and associated publications.

Professor Letto-Vanamo and Professor Chen approved further collaboration on research and publications. They also agreed to begin preparations for the co-organization of next year’s (10th) joint comparative law seminar.

Pictured (left to right): Dr Yihong Zhang (University of Helsinki); Professor Ulla Liukkunen (University of Helsinki); Professor Pia Letto-Vanamo (University of Helsinki); Professor Chen Su (CASS); Professor Ditlev Tamm (University of Copenhagen); Professor Mo Jihong (CASS); and Professor Xie Zengyi (CASS). Photo credit: CASS.

(Thanks to Dr Yihong Zhang of the Faculty of Law of the University of Helsinki for contributing text for this article).

Finnish China Law Center Library Expands with Donation of Chinese Criminal Law Publication by Liu Renwen

Professor Liu Renwen, Director of the Criminal Law Department of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), has donated his latest publication to the library of the Finnish China Law Center.

The book, Multidimensional Criminal Law Science (CASS Press 2018), will be available in the China Law Collection in the main library of the University of Helsinki.

Professor Liu has previously donated various other of his many publications to the Center’s ever-growing collection of books relating to China and the law.

A leading criminal law scholar in China, Professor Liu has made a number of visits to Finland and has given public guest lectures as part of the Finnish China Law Center’s long-standing research collaboration with the Institute of Law of CASS.

He was a session moderator during the most recent Sino-Finnish Comparative Law Seminar held last month in Beijing, China.

Professor Liu Renwen of the CASS Institute of Law speaking at the 9th Sino-Finnish Comparative Law Seminar in Beijing, China. Photo credit: CASS

 

Environmental Law, Sustainability on Agenda at Comparative Law Seminar with Chinese Legal Think Tank

Reflecting a topic increasingly under public debate given the escalating effects of climate change, environmental protection featured prominently during the latest comparative law seminar organized by the Finnish China Law Center and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).

This year’s seminar focused on the environment and a range of other legal and social problems of global significance, as well as on effective responses to challenges raised by the inter-related and deepening processes of globalization and digitalization.

Co-organized and hosted on 20 – 21 September 2018 by the CASS Institute of Law with the support of the Faculty of Law of the University of Helsinki, the annual academic event was the ninth conference aimed at robust discussion of emerging legal issues of joint social and academic significance.

The seminar also serves as an important platform for Finnish legal researchers – and from this year onward, Nordic scholars more generally – to meet and deepen international cooperation.

This year’s event was held in Beijing, while last year’s seminar was hosted in Finland by two of the Finnish China Law Center’s 10 member institutions, the University of Tampere and University of Helsinki.

Environmental law and sustainability issues were canvassed in a number of presentations.

Assistant Professor Wen Xiang of the Faculty of Law of the University of Copenhagen was a member of the extended 15-person Nordic delegation, and spoke about the regulating of genone editing crops in the European Union.

Professor Wen began by noting that the first green revolution was based on high-intensive agriculture, which vastly increased crop yields from the mid-20th century. At the beginning of the 21st century, a discussion has emerged around the need for a second green revolution. This debate has arisen because of the serious issues associated with high intensity farming, including eutrophication and loss of biodiversity.

The second green revolution, according to Professor Wen, urges more environment-friendly and sustainable approaches. Recently, scientists have suggested that the domestication of new crops would promote agricultural diversity and solve many emerging environmental degradation caused by intensive agriculture.

Assistant Professor Wen Xiang speaking during the 9th Bilateral Comparative Law Seminar in Beijing, 20-21 September 2018

Domesticated crops refer to crops ‘in which the evolutionary process has been influenced by humans to meet their needs’. Professor Wen suggested that genome editing techniques (GETs) could be used as an efficient tool to accelerate the domestication of wild plants to providing enough food and livestock fodder in the future.

However, several legal issues pertaining to the feasibility of domesticating wild plants by GETs need to be addressed. Firstly, what kind of wild crops are to be domesticated and are they subject to existing international treaties such as Nagoya Protocol? Secondly, what will be the role of GETs in the process of domestication? Other questions arise arise, such whether this process should be subject to the current regulatory framework on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in the EU, as well as and the implications of the ECJ ruling on GETs in July 2018.

In another presentation on environmental law, Professor Liu Hongyan of the CASS Institute of Law discussed the development of ecological rule of law in China, noting that political organizations and governmental organizations share the responsibility of supervising environmental protection in the country.

Professor Liu noted that judicial organs also actively facilitate administrative organs in enforcing environmental law. For example, the People’s Congress and the People’s Procuratorate are supervisory organs of the environmental law system and can bring up administrative litigation if needed.

The development of China’s environmental law, Professor Liu argued, has the following characteristics: First, the prevailing view is that China should build its environmental law system according to its own national conditions. Second, the development of the environmental law system is diversified. For example, some localities have become pilot points for new regulations before they are passed as laws. Third, the official position is that the enforcement of environmental law cannot be uniform, but instead should be promoted in different stages.

In another talk, Professor Ellen Eftestøl-Wilhelmsson, Professor of Civil and Commercial Law in the Faculty of Law at the University of Helsinki, presented with Doctoral Researcher Emilie Yliheljo on the topic of promoting environmentally sustainable through the use of emissions information.

Professor Eftestøl-Wilhelmsson and Ms Yliheljo argued that there is a political call for a behavioural change in the transport industry towards more sustainable transport solutions, and discussed whether and how information related to emissions from carriage of cargo could be used to trigger environmentally friendly decisions and the use of transport alternatives with the lowest emissions.

Observing that emission information is already used as an instrument to combat emissions from transport in the aviation sector, through the European Emission Trading System (ETS) for example, Professor Eftestøl-Wilhelmsson and Ms Yliheljo argued that transport industries outside the ETS could also use emission information to reach the climate goals set for the industry. The scholars described how this could be done by ‘pushing’ the parties to actively consider the emissions from different transport alternatives. The information might work as a ‘nudge’ towards more environmental and greener choices, with new technology providing the necessary practical means for measuring the emissions and delivering the results in real time.

Professor Ellen Eftestøl-Wilhelmssonof the University of Helsinki speaking during the 9th Bilateral Comparative Law Seminar in Beijing, 20-21 September 2018

Another scholar from the CASS Institute of Law, Lin Xiaoxiao, analyzed the environmental damage compensation regime in China.

Professor Lin observed that the legal regime of public-interest environmental litigation is mainly reflected in the revision of the Procedural Law of the Civil Litigation. However, because other laws that are relevant to environmental litigation have not been revised, it is unclear how the laws should be interpreted in public-interest environmental litigation. Recently, there has been some new legislation that regulates public-interest environmental litigation, including the Land Law.

At present, the legal regime of public-interest environmental litigation has the following characteristics: (1) The purpose of environmental litigation is to determine environmental liabilities; (2) Procedural regulations are becoming more comprehensive; and (3) Substantive legal rules need to be complemented.

Public-interest environmental litigation is usually brought by environment groups, with leading cases including the Taizhou Public-Interest Case and the Dezhou Air Pollution Case.

Professor Lin said that the current legal regime of public-interest environmental has the following problems: (1) The piloting proposal of reforming the regime of ecological environmental damage cases issued by the State Council is not fully consistent with current legal regulations: (2) The definition of ecological environmental damage is not clear; and (3) It does not provide sufficient legal basis for plaintiffs’ claims for compensation.

Professor Liu Renwen, CASS Institute of Law, co-moderated with Professor Ellen Eftestøl-Wilhelmsson of the University of Helsinki a session on environmental law during the 9th Bilateral Comparative Law Seminar in Beijing, 20-21 September 2018

In addition to environmental law, the seminar covered rule of law, legal reforms in the context of the emerging Internet-based ‘sharing’ economy, trends in Chinese and Nordic labour law and social welfare systems and civil law issues.

The timing of this year’s seminar was particularly auspicious, occurring just before the Mid-Autumn Festival, an important national holiday.

Thanks to Dr Yihong Zhang, Postdoctoral Researcher in the Faculty of Law of the University of Helsinki, for contributing to this article.