Professor Chen noted that traditionally, International Financial Institutions (IFIs) had not been active in labor rights protection. However, since the late 1990s, the IFIs have grown more involved in labor matters. He pointed to the fact that since the 2000s, labor standards have been incorporated into the policy instruments of the IFIs, with examples set by the Asian Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank, the Nordic Investment Bank, the African Development Bank and so on.
However, IFIs’ approach to labor protection has been different from each other. Specifically, the levels of labor protection afforded are uneven among the institutions and the enforcement of labor rights remains diverse in practice. Additionally, institutionalization of labor standards within the financial institutions varies in terms of degree and means. In the course of this development, the ILO has played a very important and indispensable role in the dissemination of knowledge and expertise about labor standards.
Professor Chen posited that IFIs’ growing engagement with labor protection has created a recognized body of labor standards that are formulated, applied and enforced in a transnational context. The application of labor standards is project-specific, and is not based on the principle of personam jurisdiction, but instead the principle of in rem jurisdiction, linked to projects financed by the IFIs.
He then discussed what constitutes the content of IFI labor standards. All four ILO core labor standards, namely freedom of association and collective bargaining, prohibition of forced labor, prohibition of child labor, and non-discrimination in respect of employment and occupation, are generally recognized. Additionally, IFI labor standards may involve safe working conditions and other workers’ rights. His presentation also illustrated how controversial labor standards recognized by the IFIs are by referring to the World Bank’s position regarding the highly politically sensitive issue of freedom of association.
The Finnish China Law Center’s role is aimed at deepening bilateral research and education cooperation between China and Finland on sustainability issues, including ‘corporate social responsibility, sustainable business practices, labour law, environmental law, Arctic-related laws and other fields of mutual interest’, according to the Plan.
Professor Yifeng Chen, Associate Professor and Assistant Dean (International) of Peking University Law School, says the Plan is ‘a testimony to how quickly the Finnish China Law Center has established itself over the years of its operation’.
‘The Center is an important platform for intellectual exchange between legal scholars in Finland and China, and increasingly the Nordic region as a whole’.
The Finnish China Law Center’s planned event on 15 November 2018 in its ‘One Belt, One Road’ Series, a public guest lecture and discussion on ‘China and One Belt, One Road in the Post-World War II International Legal System’, has been cancelled. The Center apologies for any inconvenience.
The Finnish China Law Center’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ Event Series
The public guest lecture and discussion was the latest of many events in the Finnish China Law Center’s series on China’s massive economic and strategic agenda, the so-called ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative. Other events held earlier in 2018 as part of the series include:
In addition to his position as Professor Public International Law at the, Professor Sheng is Director of the One Belt, One Road Judicial Research Institute of the Supreme People’s Court of China.
Professor Sheng’s academic interests focus on international law, international relations, international organisation, international humanitarian law and international criminal justice. He has published over eighty articles in leading academic journals at home and abroad, as well as six books: Challenges and Responses in International Criminal Law (2017), Constraints on the Use of Force—Legal Aspects of Armed Conflict in Early 21st Century (co-author, 2014), NGO’s in Contemporary International Relation (2004), United Nations Peacekeeping Operations: Legal Aspects (2006), Developments in British Politics and Its Foreign Policy (2008) and State Responsibility under International Law in Anti-Terrorism Campaign (2008).
In June 2011, Professor Sheng was granted the title Qianjiang Professorship by the People’s Government of Zhejiang Province, China. He is Senior Colonel (Ret. & Res.) after retirement from military service in 2009. From April 2004 to April 2005, Professor Sheng was United Nations Expert on Mission for the MONUC in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, serving as Team Leader of Military Observers and Senior Liaison Officer. He was also appointed by the Chief of the Mission Chair of Independent Board of Inquiry to review international criminal cases. In April 2005, he was granted the United Nations Medal (In the Service of Peace).
Professor Zhao Hongrui, Dean of the School of Humanities, Social Sciences and Law of Harbin Institute of Technology, has donated his major work on China, rule of law and national security to the Finnish China Law Center.
The Chinese-language publication, ‘China’s Civilized Rise and Rule of Law in National Security’ (China Legal Publishing House 2015) draws upon his inter-disciplinary research and insights gained in his roles as Vice-President of the WTO Law Institute and President of the One Belt, One Road Economic Security and Rule of Law Institute of the China Law Society.
The event was free and open to the public, and was of interest to a variety of audiences including lawyers, the business sector (including startups and entrepreneurs), students and scholars, as well as to the legislature and policymakers.
Event speakers included Professor Li Mingde, Director of the Intellectual Property Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a key Chinese partner of the Finnish China Law Center.
Other key speakers included ShengHongsheng, Professor of Public International Law at Shanghai University of Political Sciences and Law and Director of the OBOR Judicial Research Institute at the the Supreme People’s Court.
Professor Matti Nojonen, Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the Finnish China Law Center, also spoke.
Registration for the event was not compulsory. For those students who wished to gain 2 ECTS upon the attendance of the whole event, the event organized requested registration by 8 November.
According to the latest figures from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), China filed the most patents of any country worldwide in 2015, with Chinese companies registering more than 1.3 million patents, in 2017, an increase of 14.2% per year since 2015. China’s rise as an economy focused on high-quality development, is a substantially significant economic event.
The expanding range of China’s economic interactions has provoked the most recent attention to China as an emerging superpower. China’s economic successes are impressive enough and deserve attention; they reflect China’s late entry into the international community, in organs such as UN and World Bank. Therefore, it is of vital importance to understand China’s role in the international legal system and to examining possible alterations in China’s foreign policy principles, laws and practices.
The seminar focused on different points:
Discussion of the ongoing reforms in these Chinese legal landscapes and contextualize and compare them to the ongoing reforms that are occurring in the European legal systems.
As Beijing has announced it will take more active role in international affairs, will the China’s traditional conventional role and approach to international law change?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 book focuses on aspects of the so-called ‘New Silk Road’ Initiative that we thought deserved more attention, such as issues relating to culture and legal philosophy, environmental law and protection, social responsibility, and the rule of law, judiciary and the role of lawyers’, Professor Nuotio says.
Opening remarks were delivered by Dr Harriet Lonka of the University of Eastern Finland and Tiina Lampisjärvi, Executive Director of the Finfood – Finnish Food Information.
A keynote was delivered by Dr Xiao Pinghui.
Dr Xiao is a senior lecturer at Guangzhou University Law School and a researcher (Sam Walton Scholar) affiliated to the Law School at the Center for Coordination and Innovation of Food Safety Governance of Renmin University of China. Since 2017 he has served as an officially accredited mentor of the National Food Safety Law Publicity Program launched by China Food and Drug Administration.
Another keynote was given by Professor Katja Weckström Lindroos.
Professor Weckström Lindroos is Professor of Commercial Law at UEF Law School, University of Eastern Finland. She specializes in intellectual property and international trade law with an emphasis on regulating emerging markets.
On 22 August 2018, the Finnish China Law Center, in collaboration with the Faculty of Law of the University of Helsinki, hosted a guest lecture titled ‘China’s Arctic Policy – The ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative and the Nordic Countries’.
China published its first Arctic Policy White Paper in January 2018 following years of preparation, including an introduction of a proposed ‘Polar Silk Road’. Prior to this, China joined the Arctic Council as an observer in 2013 and included the Arctic region in its Vision for Maritime Cooperation under the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative in June 2017.
What does it mean that China’s so-called ‘Belt and Road’ initiative has entered the Arctic region? How is this likely to affect potential Arctic investment and trade and influence legal developments?
This lecture will focus on China’s Arctic engagement, cooperation with the Nordic countries (including through the platform provided by CNARC), and its impact on Arctic developments in an evolving world order.
The event will be of interest to researchers, policy-makers, civil servants and those from civil society, as well as business people with an interest in both the Arctic region and in China’s overseas activities.
The event was free, open to the public and registration was not necessary.
About the speaker
Dr Kopra is a specialist on China and environmental responsibility. Her publications include academic articles and popular science texts on China’s climate policy, Arctic governance, sustainable development and international environmental responsibility. Her professional positions include Postdoctoral Researcher in the Aleksanteri Institute and Member of Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS), both located in the University of Helsinki.
About the book
Based on a premise that great powers have unique responsibilities in international society, Dr Kopra’s book explores the way China’s rise to great power status transforms the notions of great power responsibility in general and in the context of international climate politics in particular. The book produces empirical knowledge on the Chinese party–state’s conceptions of state responsibility and the influence of those notions on China’s role in international climate politics.
Regarding theory, the book builds on and contributes to the English School of International Relations and argues that the international norm of climate responsibility is an emerging attribute of great power responsibility. The book also discusses the way China will act out its climate responsibility in the future and ponders broader implications of China’s evolving notions of great power responsibility for climate change. Thus, it seeks to shed new light on the transformations China’s rise will yield and the kind of great power China will prove to be.
He says the publication was an international effort that aims to shed light on under-explored non-trade normative aspects of China’s epic global infrastructure project, as well as the initiative’s socio-legal implications.
‘The book focuses on aspects of the so-called ‘New Silk Road’ Initiative that we thought deserved more attention, such as issues relating to culture and legal philosophy, environmental law and protection, social responsibility, and the rule of law, judiciary and the role of lawyers’.
‘Given the scale and importance of the ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative, we also felt it necessary that the book generate critical insights into how the project could or should develop and be better regulated’, Professor Nuotio says.
The book was also edited by Professor Shan Wenhua, one of China’s leading scholars on the ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative.
Professor Shan is founding Dean of the School of Law and founding Director of the Silk Road Institute for International and Comparative Law (SRIICL) at Xi’an Jiaotong University.
Doctoral Researcher Zhang Kangle of the Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki, also co-edited the publication and authored a chapter on the relationship between China’s new financial institutions and the country’s global strategy.
Dr Guilherme Vasconcelos Vilaca, also of the Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki, contributed a chapter on ‘Strengthening the Cultural and Normative Foundations of the Belt and Road Initiative: The Colombo Plan, Yan Xuetong and Chinese Ancient Thought’.