Prof. Kimmo Nuotio giving guest lecture on Criminal Law as Transnational Law at PKU Law School

On 17 November 2020, Professor Kimmo Nuotio, Board Member of the China Law Center joined the 2020 Fall Semester Online PKU Law School Distinguished Global Faculty lecture series. The lecture series aims to further the internationalization of PKU Law School and foster global awareness among law students beyond the confinement of national boundaries.

Professor Nuotio contributed to the series with a presentation on “Criminal Law as Transnational Law”.

If international criminal law is a concept already relatively well-known, the concept of transnational criminal law is still a relatively new one. Neil Boister has proposed an understanding that whereas international criminal law proper is based on values and principles, the transnational criminal law only is about state’s collaborating in addressing issues of cross-border criminality. Accordingly, transnational criminal law deals with international illegal market, where criminal activities often are organised and run for profit. Transnational criminal law deals with a rather scattered set of topics, and the aim is to strengthen the enforcement of the agreed norms by means of international treaties. In his talk, Professor Nuotio presented this scene and discussed the problems in the creation of transnational criminal law, as the most powerful states have had a biggest say in the drafting of such treaties. As a result, transnational criminal law of today has some problematic features, which should be addressed: it should be enlightened. He also talked about how we could relate an enlightened version of transnational criminal law with law and development studies. Finally, he examined if and how transnational criminal law could be transformed and become a genuine global criminal law.

Professor Genlin Liang and Professor Su Jiang from PKU Law School acted as commenters for Professor Nuotio’s lecture. The lecture received positive feedback from PKU Law students who found his topic very interesting, especially regarding transnational criminal law.

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.

An interview with Prof. Kimmo Nuotio (Part II): Experience with Belt-and-Road and Chinese collaborations

Introduction to this blogpost

This is Part II of the two-part blog post on the interview with Prof. Kimmo Nuotio on his thoughts and recollection of the China Law Center, as well as other aspects of Chinese collaboration, including the Belt-and-Road Initiative. The interview has been done by our research assistant, Ngor Sin. Part I can be found here.

In Part II, we cover Prof. Kimmo Nuotio’s participation in Belt and Road Initiative-related projects, and his general experience of collaboration with Chinese scholars and education institutions. He also gave very insightful comments on his personal approach of how to collaborate with Chinese colleagues.

New Silk Road Law Schools Alliance and the related publication

One of the biggest efforts in BRI regarding legal science collaboration is the New Silk Road Alliance of Law Schools, which Prof. Nuotio has knowledge since the Alliance’s infancy. He recalled that during his visit to Xi’an Jiaotong University in 2014 to give the opening lecture of a Silk Road-related seminar, there was a discussion between him and the then-Dean of Faculty of Law of Xi’an Jiaotong University Wenhua Shan. During the talk for furthering cooperation between Chinese and foreign law schools, the idea of some new arrangement was developed. After some further exchanges and preparation especially on the Chinese side, the alliance was launched in 2015. From the start, the alliance aimed at bringing together high-quality Chinese and foreign law schools and having a regular platform for exchange of ideas and possible collaborations. Each year, the Alliance would hold Dean Meetings (such as the ones in 2016) as well as other academic conferences to discuss BRI-related topics.

Prof. Kimmo Nuotio signing the documents, bringing the University of Helsinki Faculty of Law in to the New Silk Road Law School Alliance in 2015.

The publication “Normative Readings of the Belt and Road Initiative” is the direct result of the conferences. This book is an early reflection of the legal aspects in BRI. In Prof. Nuotio’s opinion, BRI is mainly a foreign policy concept, but it is interesting to conduct research on this policy, as the legal aspect of BRI comprises of not only Chinese law, but also international law, especially rules regarding how China deals with its neighbours, how the BRI investments are made and are protected by legal regimes. He also mentioned the reason for this publication is to make the best use of materials published in the conferences, as he believe that all collaborations should be serious and should result in some sort of published works, so that the world at large also can read about the results of the academic collaborations.

“Normative Readings of the Belt and Road Initiative” offers normative readings on China’s master plan on foreign affairs, in the context of China as the rising power Covers fields including legal philosophy, Chinese philosophy, labor protection, financial mechanism, environmental protection and other non-trade aspects of the BRI Written for researchers and governmental actors.

General Experience of collaboration with Chinese scholars and institutions

Talking about his experience in China, Prof. Nuotio is very positive about his collaboration as well as visits in general. His recent seminar in Peking University on sexual offences was a success. The proceedings of the seminar, including Prof. Nuotio’s presentation and responses from the audience was recently published online (in Chinese), which Prof. Nuotio is very pleased to hear about. For him, although scholars are often responsible for high-level abstract knowledge production, there must be some groundwork done in order for the legal systems to develop. He also noticed that despite the geographical differences, discussions about problems arising from the legal systems of different countries, such as China and Finland, are almost always the same, thus comparative studies would play a vital role in assisting the development of legal systems.

Prof. Kimmo Nuotio sharing the Finnish experience in development of criminal law concerning sexual offences in Peking University in 2019.

From there, Prof. Nuotio also spoke about his general perception about collaboration with Chinese scholars and institutions in general. He regarded Chinese scholars highly for their openness and frankness. As a criminal law professor, he reckoned that sometimes society has wicked problems that must be confronted and solved, and scholars must be able to openly and freely discuss these problems. He noted the importance of scholars to be able to speak and exchange ideas freely, as only honest and frank exchanges among scholars are meaningful and productive.  He also noted the huge differences in social and political systems between Finland and China, and thought that it is the scholars of that legal system to solve their respective problems with their own ways. The academic exchanges were, in his opinion, rather to tell about experiences on how the respective sides have dealt with the problems commonly faced, and what are the reflections of developments or policies concerned.

Background of Prof. Kimmo Nuotio

Prof. Kimmo Nuotio is a renowned legal scholar with Chinese collaboration experience. He is currently the professor of criminal law at University of Helsinki and is chairing the Strategic Research Council. Previously, he was the Dean of the Law Faculty at University of Helsinki between 2010–2017, and was also the chair of the board of China Law Center between 2013–2019. He also has experience in collaboration with Chinese scholars and working with Chinese materials, including several seminars given at Chinese universities and academic institutions, as well as a journal article on comparative perspectives between Finnish and Chinese law — “the transformation of criminal law and criminal law theory in Finland and China”. He also recently edited a book concerning the Belt and Road Initiative — “Normative Readings of the Belt and Road Initiative”. He was also appointed as a member of Peking University Law School’s new Global Faculty in 2018.

An interview with Prof. Kimmo Nuotio (Part I): The development of the China Law Center from its infancy

 

Introduction to this blog post

In this two-part blog post, we would be reporting on the interview of Prof. Kimmo Nuotio, done by our research assistant, Ngor Sin. In the interview, Prof. Nuotio talked about how the China Law Center was first conceived and subsequently established, followed by his participation in the scholarly efforts on the Belt and Road Initiative and New Silk Road Law Schools alliance. Lastly, Prof. Nuotio recalled his personal experience and views on collaboration with Chinese scholars. Part II can be found here.

The first part of this interview blog post would cover Prof. Nuotio’s experience with the China Law Center, as well as his personal opinion on the impact and development of the work done by the  Center. In the second part, we would cover Prof. Nuotio’s participation in collaboration with Chinese scholars in general, as well as his recent involvement in the Belt and Road Initiative scholarly efforts and the New Silk Road Alliance of Law Schools.

The birth of China Law Center

Prof. Nuotio first recalled how the idea of establishing the China Law Center came about. In 2009, the Institute of Law, Chinese Academy of Social Science (CASS Law) and the Academy of Finland agreed to collaborate in the field of comparative law, related to rule of law topics. Such collaboration resulted in several comparative law conferences held among Finnish and Chinese legal scholars, which has become a tradition since. Details of the conferences are reported on our blog: 2019, 2018, 2017).

According to Prof. Nuotio, the actual plan of building a China Law Center has been materialised in 2012-2013. Given the increase in collaboration, it has been noted that a coordinating unit between Finnish institutions and Chinese institutions is needed. Therefore, around 2012, discussions regarding the establishment of such unit initiated among the Finnish institutions, and the Center was formally launched in 2013. While the Center is based at the University of Helsinki, the whole Sino-Finnish collaboration, including the establishment of the Center, is a joint effort among all the Finnish institutions, which eventually become members of the Center.

Representatives of the Center, the Academy of Finland and the Faculty of Law of University of Helsinki visited Peking University Law School in 2013

Impact and other Thoughts about the China Law Center

On the questions regarding the impact of the China Law Center on Sino-Finnish collaboration, Prof. Nuotio is very positive about the Center’s work. He referred the Center as a national center for coordination of Sino-Finnish research efforts in legal sciences. Another notable achievement that the Center has obtained would be the China Law Center collection, which has been built with the assistance of the Center’s Chinese partners, notably Faculty of Law of Peking University, and is currently hosted by the University of Helsinki Library.

On the impacts that the China Law Center might have been exerting on the scholarly scene, Prof. Nuotio noted that research efforts are usually not easily quantifiable. Instead, it is the existence of the China Law Center that leads to many other possible Sino-Finnish collaboration. In his opinion, the China Law Center presents an alternative to the Chinese scholars on possible collaboration partners and opportunities. Through the Center, Chinese scholars have started to explore European and particularly Nordic legal tradition. Although the Center is not the only European institution engaging the same kind of work, it is the first one in the Nordic countries.

CASS President and delegation visiting the China Law Center in 2017

Prof. Nuotio remarked that the China Law Center is like a baby that he has built from scratch, since he has been involved in the establishment of the Center, and later was also heavily involved in the strategic development of the China Law Center. He is now very happy to see the Center’s current development and that it is very active in Sino-Finnish collaboration. He is also please to notice that every member institution of the Center is making the best use of the Center, and hope that this will continue under the new leadership of the Center’s Board.

In the next part, we will talk about Prof. Nuotio’s personal experience in Chinese collaborations and his recent involvement the Belt and Road Initiative-related projects.

Background of Prof. Kimmo Nuotio

Prof. Kimmo Nuotio is a renowned legal scholar with Chinese collaboration experience. He is currently the professor of criminal law at University of Helsinki and is chairing the Strategic Research Council. Previously, he was the Dean of the Law Faculty at University of Helsinki between 2010–2017, and was also the chair of the board of China Law Center between 2013–2019. He also has experience in collaboration with Chinese scholars and working with Chinese materials, including several seminars given at Chinese universities and academic institutions, as well as a journal article on comparative perspectives between Finnish and Chinese law — “the transformation of criminal law and criminal law theory in Finland and China”. He also recently edited a book concerning the Belt and Road Initiative — “Normative Readings of the Belt and Road Initiative”. He was also appointed as a member of Peking University Law School’s new Global Faculty in 2018.

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

 

European Law Students’ Association Members Visit Finnish China Law Center and Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki

On 1 February 2018, the Finnish China Law Center, based in the Faculty of Law at the University of Helsinki, welcomed a group of students from the European Law Students’ Association (ELSA) who visited the Center to learn about Chinese legal education and research.

ELSA is an international, independent, non-political and non-profit organisation run by and for students and recent graduates interested in achieving academic and personal excellence in addition to their legal or law-related studies at university.

The visit by ELSA was hosted by Professor Pia Letto-Vanamo, Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Helsinki.

Professor Pia Letto-Vanamo, Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Helsinki, speaking during the ELSA visit

Dean Letto-Vanamo is a legal historian and comparative lawyer specialized in European legal history, history of European integration, Nordic legal culture(s) and transnational law, with a strong interest in Chinese law and Chinese legal culture.

During her opening speech at the event, Dean Letto-Vanamo delineated the history of comparative law and Chinese legal education and scholarship in Finland, and underscored the increasing importance of understanding Nordic law not just in its European context, but from the global perspective, including in comparison with Chinese law.

Professor Ulla Liukkunen, also of the University of Helsinki, was another speaker at the event. Professor Liukkunen is Director of the Finnish Center of Chinese Law and Chinese Legal Culture and has been recently elected as a Member of the Board of Directors of the European China Law Studies Association (欧洲中国法研究协会).

Professor Ulla Liukkunen, Director of the Finnish China Law Center, sharing her experiences as a China law researcher with visiting ELSA students

Professor Liukkunen spoke about the Finnish China Law Center’s role in facilitating and promoting China law and comparative law research, and about the increasing Nordic-wide approach to Chinese legal education and research. During her presentation, Professor Liukkunen also drew upon her research in Chinese law and comparative law involving China, and highlighted the importance of taking local conditions and culture into consideration when conducting comparative research with Chinese law.

The main speech during the ELSA visit was given by Post-Doctoral Researcher Dr Yihong Zhang.

Dr Yihong Zhang giving the main presentation during the ELSA student visit 

Dr Zhang, who lectures at the University of Helsinki and is responsible for its popular annual summer school program in Chinese law, drew upon her academic and professional experience in China when discussing the Chinese legal system in a comparative context, including its foundations, sources of law, the way law is applied and enforced, and current legal ‘hot topics’ in China.

A short discussion followed Dr Zhang’s presentation, during which time students asked questions about China’s criminal justice system and the rule of law in China.

The Center strongly encourages students – and anyone else – interested in Chinese law and legal culture to follow its blog, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Questions about Chinese law can be directed to the Coordinator of the Center, Stuart Mooney, at stuart.mooney (@) helsinki.fi.

Dean Letto-Vanamo’s book on different legal cultures and systems around the world, co-authored with Professor Ditlev Tamm of the University of Copenhagen, is being translated into English. 

Multiple Visits to China Cap Year of Growing Bilateral Legal Research and Education Collaboration between the University of Helsinki and China

The end of 2017 saw a flurry of visits of scholars and staff to China from the University of Helsinki, one of the 10 member institutions of the Finnish China Law Center.

The visits capped off a year marked by ever-deepening cooperation between the University of Helsinki and Chinese scholars and institutions.

In October 2017, Rector of the University of Helsinki, Jukka Kola, led a large delegation of scholars and staff to China.

The purpose of the Rector’s visit was to underscore the significance the University of Helsinki attaches to its friends and partners in China.

During his visit, Rector Kola further developed the important relationship between the University of Helsinki and Peking University, a key partner institution in China of the Finnish China Law Center.

Rector Kola also spoke at an event organized by the Beijing Alumni Club hosted by Finland’s Ambassador to China, Jarno Syrjälä.

The event organizer and Head of the China Alumni Board – Chen Yifeng, Assistant Professor of Law at Peking University – is also Docent of the University of Helsinki and a legal scholar of international renown who played a central role in establishing, and growing, the Finnish China Law Center.

Rector of the University of Helsinki Jukka Kola speaking with Professor Chen Yifeng of Peking University at the China Alumni Club event held at the residence of the Finnish Ambassador to China on 14 October 2017 (Photo credit: Helsingin yliopiston alumniyhdistys)

More about Professor Chen’s engagement and research in the University of Helsinki and the Finnish China Law Center can be found in the recently published Report on the First Four Years of the Center.

Sanna Villikka, acting Head of Administration of the Faculty of Medicine, was also part of the Rector Kola’s delegation.

Ms Villikka visited China in her former capacity as Senior Advisor in Research Funding Services at the University of Helsinki’s City Centre Campus. The purpose of her trip was to develop staff exchange between the University of Helsinki and Peking University, to further enhance the University of Helsinki’s relationship with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and to emphasize the high esteem with which the University of Helsinki views its relationship with the Faculty of Law of Peking University.

Another important visit to China was by then Dean of the Faculty of Law, Professor Kimmo Nuotio.

Professor Kimmo Nuotio of the University of Helsinki speaking at the CASS Rule of Law Forum, Beijing, November 2017 (Photo credit: Institute of Law, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences)

Professor Nuotio joined the Annual Meeting of the Silk Road Law Schools Alliance hosted by Wuhan University.

The Faculty of Law of the University of Helsinki is one of the founding members of the Alliance, which is composed of leading law schools from China and abroad.

The Annual Meeting has become a platform for law schools to meet and discuss academic research, collaboration and legal education.

Doctoral Candidate Kangle Zhang, contact person of the Alliance from the University of Helsinki, also joined the meeting.

Professor Kimmo Nuotio and Doctoral Candidate Zhang Kangle of the University of Helsinki with representatives from other institutions involved in the Silk Road Law Schools Alliance, at the Alliance’s annual meeting in November 2017 (Photo credit: Wuhan University)

Professor Nuotio was invited to give public lectures at universities across the country, including Peking University, the University of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Wuhan University, Shandong University, and Wuhan University of Technology.

Professor Nuotio also gave a presentation at the Chinese Academy of Social Science’s annual international Rule of Law conference in Beijing.

Held on 17–18 November, the theme of the 2017 conference was ‘Modes of Rule of Law and Modernization of State Governance’.

Professor of Criminal Law at the University of Helsinki, Sakari Melander, was similarly invited to present at the CASS Rule of Law conference, which doctoral candidate Zhang Kangle also attended.

Professor Sakari Melander of the University of Helsinki speaking at the CASS Rule of Law Forum, Beijing, November 2017 (photo credit: Institute of Law, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences).

Professor Jukka Viljanen, of Finnish China Law Center member institution the University of Tampere, was also invited to give a presentation at the conference.

Yet another senior scholar from the Faculty of Law at the University of Helsinki to visit China in late 2017 was Senior Lecturer and Adjunct Professor Dr Jarna Petman, who lectured on human rights at Peking University in October 2017.

In addition to her many academic and professional responsibilities, including serving as a Commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists, Professor Petman also visits and lectures at the prestigious Peking University Law School on a regular basis.

These visits have been supported by CIMO’s funding for the collaboration between Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights and Peking University’s Institute of International Law.

Senior Lecturer (att. to the duties of Professor) of the University of Helsinki / University of Turku and Sanna Villikka (University of Helsinki) in Beijing, October 2017 (Photo credit: Sanna Villikka)

The CIMO project, the result of an application made by Kangle Zhang, was jointly managed by several staff of the Faculty of Law of the University of Helsinki prior to its conclusion at the end of 2017.

During its two years of operation, the project facilitated a range of successful activities that deepened collaboration between the Faculty of Law of the University of Helsinki and Peking University Law School.

The end of 2017 also saw a flurry of visits from China to Finland.

These inbound visits included two delegations in November alone.

The first of these, a large delegation of judges from the Chinese province of Yunnan, resulted in a productive seminar on comparative juvenile justice in Finland and China.

The second visit, by the leadership of Beihang University Law School, lead to the signing of a new MOU on legal research and education cooperation.

This new relationship has already borne fruit, with the announcement by Beihang University Law School of the establishment of its Nordic Law Center, the first of its kind in China.

2018 is shaping up to be even busier for the University of Helsinki and the Finnish China Law Center.

In addition to guest lectures, visiting speakers and other smaller-scale activities, the Center is hosting or co-organizing a number of international events.

These include a China Law Workshop (Helsinki, April – tbc), the 9th Bilateral Comparative Law Seminar (Beijng, August – tbc) with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and the 6th China-Europe Legal Forum with the China Law Society (Helsinki, November – tbc).

Follow the Finnish China Law Center on Twitter (@ChinaLawCenter) and Facebook (@ChinaLawCenter) to keep up-to-date with the latest news, events, publications and other activities of the Center and its member institutions.

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.

 

Interview with Renwen Liu, Director of the CASS Criminal Law Department

Mr. Liu in the office of the Center Coordinator, Iina Tornberg.

Prof. Dr. Renwen Liu, Director of the Criminal Law Department of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), is a specialist in Chinese criminal law. Starting his career at the CASS Law Institute as early as 1993, he has extensive experience in the field both in China and abroad. Mr. Liu has been a research fellow at top-ranked universities such as Oxford, Yale, Harvard, and Columbia University in New York, and has visited a number of universities across Western Europe as well as in Russia and in Asia. His post as the Director of the Criminal Law Department has a wide array of responsibilities in Beijing, which currently binds him to the city for most of the time. The Finnish China Law Center had the great pleasure to host Mr. Liu during the Chinese New Year, a big Chinese holiday celebration – a time when Beijing is bustling with festive social activities. Even though engaged in research and seminars during the holiday, Mr. Liu finds the stay in Finland “nice and relaxing.”

As Professor of criminal law and Director of the Criminal Law Department of CASS, Mr. Liu is involved in an array of different fields. The CASS professors work closely with the government, offering consultancy, advice and expertise in the field of law, which they gain from research as well as cooperation with other sectors of the society. For instance, Mr. Liu’s recent cooperation with the Chinese Securities Regulatory Commission gets him on top of the newest developments in financial criminal activity. He has also assumed the responsibility for researching major judicial topics for the Supreme Court, such as that of cybercrime and the difficulties in applying justice in cyberspace.

The current challenges faced by the Chinese legal society have an international dimension and are faced by countries worldwide. Even though the Chinese legal system is different from that of European states, China’s approach is to be open-minded and learn from others. “It is very important that we learn from each other and from the international community, especially in new areas such as terrorism and cybercrime. China learns from other countries and cares about the reactions of the international community.”

In the light of cross-border challenges, Mr. Liu emphasizes the importance of comparative research in the drafting of new Chinese laws. For example, Mr. Liu was one of the advisors in drafting a new Chinese anti-terrorist law.  For background and guidance, information was collected from other countries such as Germany, France, Russia and the United States to see how they were dealing with similar issues. “Each country usually focuses on its domestic system of criminal justice. They have their relatively independent criminal law, criminal court and legal culture. We should share mutual respect for each other’s systems and approach them with understanding. But in areas such as counterterrorism, we need to strengthen cooperation in international criminal justice and its application in order for it to become more effective.”

China is also challenged by international pressure to abide by certain western standards, for instance in defining a suitable punishment for criminals, and its implementation of the death penalty. On the one hand, criminal activity has to be punished. “But the other side of the coin is that we also need to protect human rights,” Mr. Liu says. China often faces criticism from the international for the treatment of criminal suspects, defendants and prisoners. However, fundamental differences between China and Western societies should not to be neglected. China is still a developing country. “Thirty years ago, the Chinese society was still very poor. Even today many peasants in the countryside are poor,” Mr. Liu reminds. The pace of economic reforms in China has been very rapid, and as a result of government policies, millions of people have been lifted out of poverty. “China’s economic development is not only a contribution to the international community, but has also helped to restore wealth and wellbeing to many of the Chinese poor areas. This is the most important contribution to the human rights development. I really think that our human rights situation is getting increasingly better.” Mr. Liu also notes that this development has been possible due to the relative stability of the country. “There is no war, no massive movements, no fighting.”

Mr. Liu checking out Iina Tornberg’s books.

The newfound wealth and the still-existing poverty in China are not the only differences between China and Western Europe. Also the vast size of the Chinese population – 1.3 billion people – and the differing cultural traditions sometimes pose an impediment for reaching mutual understanding. “In Chinese criminal law, death penalty is perceived as a normal punishment for serious crimes. This is accepted by our culture – our people and our government. But the international trend is for the abolition of the death penalty.” Mr. Liu points out that the trend of abolishing the death penalty has, however, been noticed in China: the number of death penalties has decreased by half compared with the number ten years ago. Still, Western critics and human rights advocates claim that it should be abolished all together. “Execution as a payment for taking away the life of another human being is deeply rooted in the Chinese culture. Therefore, even though for non-violent crimes we can abolish the death penalty, for the crime of murder, the death penalty is still relevant. We shouldn’t try to run before learning how to walk; we need to progress gradually. Of course, even for the crime of murder we are limiting the scope of death penalty implementation,” says Mr. Liu.

The different perceptions of the domestic and international audiences are highlighted by the example of the death penalty. “For Chinese, these numbers are great progress. But for the international community the numbers are still unacceptable. From the domestic standpoint, there has been big improvement in the condition of human rights. But from the international standpoint, there is still distance to the ideal situation.” As we speak of human rights, Mr. Liu admits that China is not perfect – but then again, each country has their own problems. As long as the Chinese society keeps steady in its course towards improving the quality of people’s wellbeing, Mr. Liu sees the situation in a positive light.

Coming back to the role of comparative research, Mr. Liu believes there are great benefits in engaging with the international community. “In the past years, we’ve learned a lot from the UN and the international society. We are thankful for that. They give us good references when we make our laws.” It is clear that in comparative research, China is looking to other big powers such as the US, Germany and France. But what about a small country like Finland? Mr. Liu sees Finland as a part of a greater whole: the Nordics. The Nordics as a region has become a major point of interest to the Chinese. “Most Chinese people think that the Nordic countries are good. In China, we also say that we are a socialist country. And we say that the Nordic countries are the newest socialist countries. They don’t have such a big gap between the rich and the poor. But for China this is a big social problem. We have highly advanced cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, but the countryside and western areas are poor. So people say that we should learn from the social welfare system of the Nordic countries.”

Mr. Liu appreciates the dedication of Finland towards comparative study of law between Finland, as well as the Nordics, and China. Certainly there are big challenges in adapting desired Nordic elements into the Chinese society. Yet, through continued cooperation and comparative research which identifies key similarities and differences between the approaches of our respective countries, we can foster mutual understanding, create a good platform for communication and cultural exchange, and together develop better solutions for the future.