On 16 September 2022, the Finnish China Law Center hosted a hybrid seminar on the topic of ‘Understanding Law with Chinese Characteristics’. This event was part of the Center’s mini seminar series on topical issues of Chinese law.
The seminar consisted of two presentations. The first was by Ronald Brown, Law Professor at the University of Hawai’i Law School and was titled as ‘Chinese Labor Practices, Treaties, Uyghurs, and CAI: Keeping Promises’. In his presentation, Professor Brown was speculating whether Chinese labor policies have shifted towards international standards or is it just that China is changing without change. The presentation examined the latter by calling attention to China’s many reservations of its signed and ratified international agreements.
The debate on Uyghurs have hampered China’s relationship with the West in the recent years. This issue was also raised in the presentation by Professor Brown who pointed out the different language used by the two sides: the West accuses China of ‘genocide’ while China constantly refers to the re-education camps which are needed in the thought-reform of the Uyghurs. The EU-China CAI might be pending, but the US’ new 2022 Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act and EU countries’ Due Diligence laws were brought up as new legislation to watch for. Professor Brown concluded his presentation with recent comments by the UN Human Rights Committee that, for China, made an unfavorable assessment of the situation.
The second presentation of the day was presented by Martin Lavička, Assistant Professor at Department of Asian Studies at Palacky University Olomouc, and Julie Yu-Wen Chen, Professor of Chinese Studies at the University of Helsinki. The duo discussed the topic of ‘Recent Developments of the Rule of Law with Chinese Characteristics’. Like Professor Brown, this presentation was also opened with a rationale on China’s international law standards before moving onto the on-going discussion about rule of law in China.
The core of the presentation focused on the development of religious freedoms under Xi Jinping. The assessment included a look on the recent administrative measures which, in summary, imply growing control of the party-state. Religious groups are set to function in accordance with the CCP’s ideologies. Assistant Professor Lavička and Professor Chen noted that this process started long before Xi and is set to continue in these times when the CCP’s tolerance to any contesting ideologies is becoming lesser. The duo concluded the presentation by an observation that the convergence of law-in-practice and law-in-books, considering China’s recent developments, may not always be a good thing.
The blogpost was written by the Center’s intern, Samppa Penttinen.