Peking University Law School and the Finnish China Law Center hold a seminar on Labour and Social Law

Front row: Professor Ye Jingyi (Vice-Chairperson, Peking University Law School) and Professor Pia Letto-Vanamo (Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki). Back row: Yuan Li (student in the master’s programme in International Business Law, University of Helsinki and intern at the Finnish China Law Center), Assistant Professor Yan Tian (Assistant Dean, Peking University Law School), student in the bachelor of Law programme at University of Helsinki, Professor Ulla Liukkunen (University of Helsinki, Director of the Finnish China Law Center), Assistant Professor Jari Murto (University of Helsinki), and Le Bao Ngoc Pham (Coordinator of the Finnish China Law Center)

To mark the long history of extensive collaboration, Peking University Law School and the Finnish China Law Center hosted an afternoon seminar on Labour and Social Law.

The seminar has held on Friday 13 December 2019 at the University of Helsinki.

Professor Yan Tian, Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki, 13 December 2019

The Seminar opened with a presentation by Yan Tian, Assistant Professor & Assistant Dean at Peking University Law School on the topic ‘Towards a Constitutional Theory of Chinese Labor Law’. Professor Yan first described three constitutional visions of labour as arm, spine and embryo of the Constitution. Among the three, the vision of labour as the spine of the Constitution, which makes the Constitution paralyzed if lost is most popularly perceived among Chinese academics. He noted that labor is an important means to achieve the five major values of the Constitution, which comprise of livelihood, democracy, equality, honor and efficiency. Professor Yan went on to examine the constitutional commitment of China’s 1995 Labour Law. The Law has incorporated all the five values of constitutional labor in Chapter 1, particularly in Articles 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, and 8. However, he observed that the commitments have not been perfectly implemented in practice. For livelihood, there has been unfair distribution for labor. In the distribution system in China, the Government and businesses take a very big share. There is only a small part left for the workers. For democracy, it has been a hollow hope for most Chinese workers. The union system is bureaucratic and fails to represent the real interests of the workers. Regarding equality, in recent years, gender discrimination has been striking back. People now begin to challenge whether it is necessary to have so many women in workplaces. Relating to honor, labour is presumed by many as providing less earning and therefore, less respectable. Finally, about efficiency, debates over the inflexibility of labour law has arised in recent years. It is arguable that the labour law system is too rigid to able to accommodate the changing reality of Chinese workplace, especially in informal labour. In his final remark, Professor Yan suggested that labour law must not only keep up with the general trend of labor relations reform, but also be able to incorporate constitutional orders into the reform process, while serving as the legal platform to intergenerational synthesis.

Professor Jari Murto, Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki, 13 December 2019

In the next part of the Seminar, Jari Murto, Assistant Professor in Labour and Social Law at the University of Helsinki gave a presentation on ‘The Basic Income Experiment in the context of Finish Social Security System’. Professor Murto began with a short overview of the Finish social security system. The system is driven by the principle of universality, according to which the system covers all persons living (permanently) in Finland, and the principle of causality which renders right to social security benefit or services based on the specific reason (unemployment, illness, childbirth or studies, etc). The Finnish social security is divided into residence-based and employment-based social security. Residence-based social security is financed by taxation and administered by the Social Insurance Institution Kela. Employment-based social security is based on employee status, and paid for by employment related payments and contributions made by employee and employer, independent insurance companies and unemployment funds and labour market social partners. He next introduced the Basic Income Experiment carried out by the Finnish Government during 2017 and 2018. The purpose of the experiment was to gather information on the effects of basic income on labour market activities, and to examine social security models in the context of changing labour market as well as societal changes. The experiment met with criticism that it only choose unemployment people as target group, and exclude persons working in part-time employment relationships. Professor Murto finally discuss different type of problems in transitions in the labour market. The issues involve how to ensure employment rate of 75 %, how to guarantee that companies are able to recruit skilled work force and lack of skilled work force does not follow problems to business, and how to minimize risks to individual person relating interruptions and transitions in the labour market.


Speakers’ bios:

Yan Tian is an Assistant Professor & Assistant Dean at Peking University Law School. In addition to constitutional law, Assistant Professor Yan’s research interests include labour law and administrative law. He has published a monograph on employment discrimination law and several articles in the Chinese, English, and Korean languages. Previously, Professor Yan served as Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Peking University Law School. In addition to Bachelor and Master degrees from Peking University, Assistant Professor Yan has J.S.D. and LL.M. degrees from the Law School of Yale University.

Jari Murto is an Assistant Professor in labour and social law at the University of Helsinki. His main research interests are related to the determination on terms of employment as well as development of labour law norms, norm system and doctrines of labour law.  Professor Murto’s dissertation on “Company specific Group Norms” (2015) was a systematization of legal norms created at the company level concerning groups of employees. In the area of social law Murto’s main research interests are related to transitional labour market and legislation institutions in different type of transitions. Before University of Helsinki, he worked at the University of Turku.


University of Helsinki Faculty of Law and Peking University Law School discuss cooperation

On 13 December 2019, following the signing ceremony which renews the bilateral exchange agreement between the University of Helsinki (UH) and Peking University (PKU), Professor Ye Jingyi and Assistant Professor Yan Tian had a meeting with Professor Pia Letto-Vanamo, Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki, and Professor Ulla Liukkunen, Director of the Finnish China Law Center. During the meeting, the two sides discussed possibilities of further cooperation between their respective Faculties of Law.  

Professor Ye Jingyi and Professor Pia Letto-Vanamo

Professor Liukkunen highlighted the latest developments in Chinese law research and education at UH with the introduction of Faculty of Law’s new international master’s programme called Global Governance Law (GGL) which offers study track in Chinese law. ‘GGL would attract many students who are passionate about learning Chinese and comparative laws from a Nordic perspective’, said Professor Letto-Vanamo. Professor Liukkunen added that meanwhile, the Finnish China Law Center habeen receiving several requests to conduct visiting research hereIn view of the applicants’ qualification and experience, the Center will incorporate them into the Center’s research projects and academic lectures and seminars. The Center also houses several interns from different legal backgrounds and legal cultures, who involve in legal research, editing and writing on the law and China, and events organized by the Center. In April 2020, the Center will again hold the China Law Research Workshop providing an overview of how to approach Chinese legal research and comparative law research involving China. 

Professor Ye remarked that the GGL programme would be a great basis for future collaboration. PKU would consider recommending young scholars for visiting and giving lectures in the programme. She also mentioned that PKU highly valued the Center and UH Faculty of Law’s effort in promoting Chinese law and legal culture in Finland and the Nordic, and would like to joint hand in developing Sino-Nordic comparative law researches in civil law, social security, labour law, and human rights. ‘The Nordic legal model, especially in labour law, is very strong and unique. It is indeed what China can learn from,’ she remarked. 

PEKING UNIVERSITY Vice Chairperson VISITS UNIVERSITY OF HELSINKI, renews exchange agreement between the two Universities

On 13 December 2019, the University of Helsinki, represented by Vice-Rector of Internationalisation, Professor Hanna Snellman had the pleasure to welcome a delegation from Peking University led by Professor Ye Jingyi, Vice Chairperson, University Council, Peking University, Professor and Director, Institute of Labour and Social Security Laws, Peking University Law School. During the visit, Peking University delegation met also with Dr. Erkki Raulo, Senior Advisor of Research Services, and Dr. Anna-Maria Salmi, Head of Development of International Affairs, and Professor Ulla Liukkunen, Director of the Finnish China Law Center and Board Member of the European China Law Studies Association.

From left to right: Assistant Professor Yan Tian, Professor Hanna Snellman, Professor Ye Jingyi, and Professor Ulla Liukkunen

The visit was an excellent opportunity for Peking University and University of Helsinki to update on topical affairs and current collaborations in the framework of their strategic partnership, and renew the exchange agreement strengthening academic contacts between the two universities.

Peking University has been one of the oldest partners of the University of Helsinki since 1983. The two Universities enjoy high level of international cooperation in research and education, especially in the legal field.

Professor Liukkunen recalled the long history of cooperation, in which Peking University Law School, the Finnish China Law Center, and its member institutions have worked together on many successful research projects, as well publications. The fruitful Sino-Finnish collaboration, she remarked, has been made possible through fundamental support from Professor Ye, Assistant Professor Yan Tian, Assistant Professor Yifeng Chen, and many other colleagues at Peking University Law School.

Professor Ye commented that Peking University has greatly benefited from strategic partnership with the University of Helsinki, especially in law, air quality, education and medicine. Most notably, she regarded the joint legal activities as great achievement, which helps foster and develop comparative studies and understanding of Finland and China’s unique legal models and legal cultures. She hoped the long-last cooperation between two Universities will continue for many years to come.

The meeting concluded with Professor Snellman and Professor Ye signing the bilateral exchange agreement between University of Helsinki and Peking University

New Items added to the China Law Center Collection

We want to bring you a great news today by presenting you the latest entries in the China Law Center Collection, kindly hosted and managed by the University of Helsinki library in Kaisa-talo! These new Chinese and English entries are donated by our partner institutions, notably Peking University, and they are going to enrich the already wide array of collection items. In this blog post, we will give you a full tour of these new entries — their details in general, and how to find them electronically and physically!

Table of Contents

What are the new items?

Until November, there are 39 new items entered in the China Law Center Collection for the year 2019. These items are donated to the Center from our partner institutions, notably from Peking University. In order to introduce these new items, let us start with some numbers:

Language of Materials in Newly Added Collection

Most of the English new items are entry-level textbooks for readers that would like to have an introductory view on Chinese legal system, but there are also some in-depth analysis of recent Chinese legal developments, such as the commentary on State Secret Law, Civil Procedural Law and Corporate Governance. Regarding the Chinese books, there are many high-quality publications on in-depth analysis of Chinese legal theories and the Chinese legal system, such as several publications on research about management of state-owned enterprises and other assets (2007, 2010, 2011), a publication on civil servant and their transparency, as well as two important works on human rights law (first and second editions).

Among the new items, there are quite a number of books about Chinese legal system and Chinese legal theories, both in general and specific topics. These include works on development of Chinese legal system, from the dawn of civilization all the way up to modern developments (such as in securities law and civil justice).

For those who want to navigate between legal Chinese and legal English, there are two new items in the Collection that suit such need precisely: one lists commonly used legal Chinese and legal English term, and the other presents legal English from a Chinese perspective.

Where can I find them?

You can find these new items, together with the whole China Law Center Collection, either through online database (Helka) or by visiting Kaisa-talo at University of Helsinki.

For Helka, all the books and materials in the China Law Center collection can be looked up by entering search terms in the search bar or, using this link to instantly get the required parameters in Helka. Or, you can limit the call number in your advanced search to be “hc 4. krs oikeustiede china law center collection”.

For the physical collection, the Collection is located on the 4/F of Kaisa-talo library, at the end of the Law catalogue, on the side facing Fabianinkatu (See map with this link).

If you want to have a closer look at the catalogue, here is the excel workbook containing the list compiled by both the Library and the Center, with brief introductions in both English and Chinese (will be updated at intervals).

Yes! This unique Chinese-Finnish collaboration work might interest you:

Name (Chinese): 法制改革与法治发展 : 中国与芬兰的比较
Name (English): Legal reform and the development of rule of law: a comparison between China and Finland
Editors: Chen, Su and Liukkunen, Ulla
Published Year 2019 Publisher: Social Science Academic Press/
Classification Jurisprudence – Legal Philosophy
Summary: This is a collection of research output presented in the 8th and 9th Sino-Finnish Comparative Law Seminars, co-hosted by Chinese Academy of Social Science (CASS) Institute of Law and Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki. These research output included popular topics among the legal development and scholarly fields of Finland and China, namely legal reform and development; sustainable development and environmental regulatory regime; Internet, AI and responses from the legal system; and compilation and amendment of civil code. The editors believed that this publication would encourage Sino-Finnish legal cultural exchange and comparative reference to the legal systems of both countries, would provide beneficial theoretical and knowledge basis for furthering Sino-Finnish legal development.
HU Library Call No. Hc 4. krs Oikeustiede China Law Center Collection Fazhi Link to the Book

I have a question about the China Law Center Collection. Where should I contact?

If the question concerns the collection itself, or you have question regarding research or library-related stuff, please contact the relevant librarian and staff at the University of Helsinki library. You can find their contact information here.

Questions regarding the China Law Center can be forwarded to the Center, via the contact methods listed here.

Before the end of the blog post, we have to thank deeply both the University of Helsinki library staff, as well as the China Law Center interns for lending extra hands in processing and transporting these new items to the library! Without their immense help, these new items would not be able to be provided to the public with such speed and accuracy. 

Thanks the interns and the library staff for taking care of the Collection!


Yifeng Chen on Enforcement of Transnational Labor Standards

On 17 January 2019, Yifeng Chen, Associate Professor at Peking University Law School and Assistant Director of the Peking University Institute of International Law, gave a guest lecture at the Center. His topic was ‘Enforcement of Transnational Labor Standards by International Financial Institutions: a Chinese Perspective.’

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.

Professor Chen introducing the outline of his presentation, Faculty of Law of the University of Helsinki, 17 January 2019


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.

China’s New Food Safety Law a ‘Milestone’ in China’s Legislative Reforms: Dr Harriet Lonka, University of Eastern Finland

China’s new Food Safety Law was issued in 2009 and revised in 2015. For Post-Doctoral Researcher Harriet Lonka, the chance to be a visiting scholar at Peking University Law School and research this important legislative reform was an opportunity not to be missed.

Dr Harriet Lonka, from Finnish China Law Center member institution the University of Eastern Finland (UEF), was a visiting Post-Doctoral Researcher at Peking University from 1 October to 17 November 2017.

The highly respected Peking University is a key strategic partner of the Finnish Center of Chinese Law and Chinese Legal Culture, as detailed in the recently published Report on the First Four Years of the Center.

‘My research in China focused on the new Chinese Food Safety Law. This legislation is an important milestone in China’s legislative reforms and also a key issue concerning trade policy and China’s relations with its international trade partners, especially the WTO’.

During her time in Peking University Law School, Dr Lonka worked closely with Chinese legal scholar Professor Chen Yifeng.

Professor Chen is also a Docent at the University of Helsinki and played a key role in establishing and growing the Finnish China Law Center.

Dr Lonka has a long background in the field of risk management studies, and during her PhD studies she studied the Finnish government’s Security Strategy work and how it effects the shaping of legislation.

‘Chinese Food Safety legislation is comparable in its target and format to the risk regulation tradition in Europe and in Finland’, Dr Lonka says.

‘In my current research, I focus on the aspects of the implementation of the law that have been identified as potential ‘Achilles heels’ of enforcement of the Food Safety Law in China’.

Dr Lonka believes that there are new and interesting challenges in applying measures of risk surveillance, risk management and risk communication at different levels of administration in China.

Post-Doctoral Researcher Dr Harriet Lonka (University of Eastern Finland), during her study visit to Peking University Law School, 2017

Given the angle of her research, she envisages many more opportunities for fruitful research cooperation with Chinese colleagues in the future.

Dr Lonka’s research was also supported by the fact that she had contacts to the local level administration and foodstuff producers in Hunan Province, which enabled useful data collection in the field.

The opportunity to conduct research not only in Beijing, but also in Hunan Province, was beneficial in many respects, Dr Lonka says.

‘My study visit provided me a lot of important background knowledge and new understanding of Chinese legislation, how it is created and implemented. This is of great interest to me as my own research field is legislative studies. Legislative studies concentrate on how laws are drafted and implemented and what defines their effect’.

One area of particular interest to Dr Lonka is the question of ‘decentralized development’ in China.

‘I would wish to better understand the structures and mechanisms for guidance and supervision from the central government level to provinces and further to the local level in China’.

‘The study of Chinese Food Safety Law provides an excellent case study to scrutinize these phenomena. I think this research focus can help us in general better understand the ‘many faces of China’ and how that effects the legislative processes and implementation of the administrative laws in the country’.

Dr Lonka is grateful for financial support from the Finnish China Law Center and the Saastamoinen Foundation, and for the support of her Finnish supervisors: Professor Ulla Liukkunen from the University of Helsinki / Finnish China Law Center, and Professors Anssi Keinänen and Katja Lindroos from UEF.