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Seminar speakers and moderators in the group photo after the seminar

On 10-11 June 2019, the China Law Center together with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) and in collaboration with Faculty of Law at University of Helsinki, organized the 10th Sino-Finnish Bilateral Seminar on Comparative Law. The seminar is held annually and its location alternates between Finland and China. This year the seminar was hosted by University of Helsinki.

Sino-Finnish seminars form an important part of the bilateral cooperation with CASS and are meant to facilitate legal dialogue in different fields of law. This year the 10th seminar was delighted to have six academics from CASS which is the leading Chinese research and education institution in the field of social sciences in China. These scholars were Director of Institute of Law, Professor Chen Su, Professor Xie Zengyi, Professor Zhai Guoqiang, Associate Professor Zhao Lei, Assistant Professor Yue Xiaohua and Assistant Professor Wang Shuaiyi.

The seminar was opened by remarks from both Professor Pia Letto-Vanamo, the Dean and Chair of the Board of the Finnish China Law Center, and Professor Chen Su. Both highlighted the importance of the work of the Center, as well as the collaboration between Chinese and Nordic scholars on a widening array of topics.

The bilateral seminar being the 10th of its kind also marked a significant milestone in the bilateral relations between the China Law Center, CASS and the University of Helsinki. Having lasted for ten years now, the cooperation is on a more solid footing than ever before. The recent proof of the cooperation’s results is its recognition by the the Sino-Finnish joint action plan (Joint Action Plan between China and Finland on Promoting the Future-oriented New-type Cooperative Partnership)

Professor Chen Su, Director of the CASS Institute of Law, delivering opening remarks at the seminar

Thematic areas of the seminar

The general theme of the 10th seminar was sustainability and different sessions covered this theme from the viewpoints of environment, business and labour as well as corporate governance. In addition to sustainability, the seminar also saw two sessions focusing on law, language and culture and public law.

The seminar’s first session covered law, language and legal culture beginning by a comparative analysis of culture and legal culture in China and the Nordic countries by Professor Ditlev Tamm.  Professor Matti Nojonen’s presentation addressed the concept of ‘practical rationality’ analysed traditional and contemporary Chinese legal thinking. Assistant Professor Wang’s presentation was about the influence of Chinese traditional culture on law from the viewpoint of civil law and criminal law. Finally, Marinna Hintikka and her colleagues gave a presentation on workplace communication at Law Faculty reflecting methodology, motivation and practical application.

The second thematic area covered was sustainability and environment. This session saw two presentations: one from Professor Kai Kakko under the title “From environmental law to sustainability law – some general aspects and a case study about the forest definition” and the other from Assistant Professor Yue Xiaohua under the title “Regulation development and its system improvement of China’s natural resources”.

A third thematic area discussed sustainability and business and it saw presentations from University Researcher Harriet Lonka on the topic of food law as a tool for advancing sustainable business, from Associate Professor Zhao Lei on the role of credit in the era of big data in promoting business development, from Professor Veli-Matti Virolainen on sustainable business models and ecosystems and from Professor Ellen Eftestøl-Wilhelmsson on the topic of the proposed EU regulation on electronic freight transport information.

In the second day of the seminar, themes incorporating sustainability and labour as well as public law developments were discussed. The first session included a presentation from Professor Ulla Liukkunen on the topic of employee participation in corporate governance, from Professor Xie Zengyi on the topic of employee participation in corporate governance in terms of Chinese experience and from Professor Jukka Mähönen on the topic employee participation in corporate governance: a possibility for or a threat to sustainability.

The seminar’s final session covered developments in public law with presentations on the developments in evidence in criminal procedure by Professor Tuomas Hupli, the development of constitutional structure in People’s Republic of China (1949-2019) by Professor Zhai Guoqiang and, thirdly, on law and development in a global context by Professor Kimmo Nuotio.

Seminar guests and speakers at the university reception

Book publication

The seminar also celebrated a joint publication by CASS and University of Helsinki. The title of the book is “Legal Reform and the Development of Rule of Law: A Comparison of between China and Finland” and it features contributions from legal scholars in both China and Finland, gathering together papers of the 8th and 9th Sino-Finnish seminars. The book has been edited by Chen Su and Ulla Liukkunen.

Next year’s 11th  bilateral seminar will be held in China.

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A new a Nordic-wide body for developing cooperation of research and teaching of China law holds its first meeting 2 pm in June 11th 2019 at Nordic Investment Bank on Fabianinkatu 24. The meeting takes place after the 10th Sino-Finnish Bilateral Seminar on Comparative Law. The meeting is hosted by the Finnish Center of Chinese Law and Chinese Legal Culture, the originator of the proposal to create such a body. The purpose of the network is to facilitate and promote China law-related education and research, and to promote knowledge of Nordic law in China and with Chinese scholars working outside China.

The meeting begins with a presentation from Associate Professor Chen Yifeng, Peking University, under the title “Enforcement of transnational labor standards by international financial institutions: a Chinese perspective”.

The seminar is open for everyone interested. Attendees are welcome to register here.

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Facade of the Helsinki University Main Building

The 10th Sino-Finnish International Seminar on Comparative Law will take place in 10-11th of June 2019 in Helsinki. The seminar, which is organized by the China Law Center with the support of the Faculty of Law of the University of Helsinki, is the annual academic event between the Center and the CASS Institute of Law aiming at robust discussion of emerging legal issues of joint academic significance.

The central theme for this year’s seminar is sustainability. According the Director of the Finnish China Law Center, Professor Ulla Liukkunen, there is an increasing need to address sustainability in different fields of law also from comparative perspective. Climate change and environmental degradation are fundamental challenges reflecting deepening processes of globalization. Sustainability as the theme will also continue from last year’s bilateral seminar in Beijing, which focused on environment and legal problems of global significance.

The seminar will also cover public law and developments in the area of legal theory.

‘We are very pleased to host this year’s seminar’, says professor Liukkunen. In addition to this year’s seminar being the tenth of its kind, the whole cooperation between the CASS Institute of Law and the China Law Center has been recognized in the Sino-Finnish Joint Action Plan, which testifies to the continuity of the Center’s work. The Center has acted as an important platform for legal researchers to deepen and develop research cooperation with Chinese scholars.

A list of speakers, contact information and more details for those seeking further information can be found in the program of the event

The seminar is open for the public. Attendees are welcome to register here.

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On 24 May 2019, the China-EU School of Law Consortium Office at the Universität Hamburg, will hold a PhD workshop on recent developments in Chinese law to which PhD students from all over Europe are invited. The workshop aims to address the current legal developments in China in a comparative legal context with a focus on the EU.

The workshop will provide PhD students with a chance to connect and exchange experiences with each other. It will also allow each participant to present and discuss their ideas in front of fellow colleagues in order to strengthen their research findings and skills. Doctoral students are encouraged to submits abstracts (300 to 500 works) on the following topics and related areas (or other current topics):

– Law & Technology
– Law in a Time of Changing World Trade
– Sustainable Development & Environmental Law
– Civil Law Reforms for China’s Future

Presentations are limited to 20 minutes per speaker. After the presentations, an interactive discussion session will take place. PhD candidates from CESL partner universities may apply for reimbursement of travel costs.

Workshop abstract submission deadline is 14 April 2019. Please submit your application including an abstract and a brief biography per email to: Ms. Malin Späth, Email: malin.spaeth@jura.uni-hamburg.de Tel: (+49) 40-428389224, China-EU School of Law Consortium Offce, Universität Hamburg, Germany.

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Call for Papers – Big Data and Courts in China, Institute of East Asian Studies, University of Cologne, 12-14 July 2019.

The Chinese judiciary’s push towards the use of new technologies and automatisation in recent years rests primarily on mass digitization of court decisions and the development of smart courts. Under the auspices of the Supreme People’s Court, an open-access database with currently almost 65 million documents has been established. The availability of this massive pool of new data allows researchers to unfold a whole new dimension of empirical approaches and to re-examine findings about Chinese law. However, it also poses challenges for research designs and methodologies.

The conference is hosted by the Chair of Chinese Legal Culture at the University of Cologne in partnership with the Chinese Law Programme, Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Faculty of Law of Jilin University.

For more details, please visit http://chinastudien.phil-fak.uni-koeln.de/25939.html?&L=1

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Kone Foundation, an independent non-profit organisation, is offering scholarships to conduct research in China. The Fudan Nordic Centre in Shanghai, a joint-venture between Fudan University and universities from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, will provide the scholarship awardees with office space.

All researchers and academic staff of the Nordic Centre’s Finnish member universities are eligible for this scholarship meant for a 4-6 months research period in China during the academic year 2019-2020.

The Finnish member universities of the Fudan Nordic Center are the University of Helsinki, the University of Eastern Finland, Hanken School of Economics, the University of Lapland, the University of Tampere and the University of Turku. All of these universities are also member institutions of the Finnish Center of Chinese Law.

More information about the scholarships, including the full Call for Applications and instructions on how to apply, can be found on Asianet’s website.

The application deadline is April 5, 16.00, Finnish time.

Logo of the Nordic Center, Fudan University, China
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Global warming and climate change is a topic that we see and hear about on a regular basis. When discussing climate change, it is impossible not to mention China. Sanna Kopra is a post-doctoral researcher in the Arctic Centre located in the University of Lapland and a visiting scholar in the Aleksanteri Institute located in the University of Helsinki and she has conducted extensive research into China in relation to climate change. Before examining her current activities in more detail, let’s revise her impressive academic history in the field of China.

Sanna has been interested in China for a lengthy period. Her interest was first sparked during her undergraduate studies, when she minored in Asian studies through the Finnish University Network for Asian Studies. “China had just become the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases and it protested all attempts at setting emission reductions for developing countries. I examined China’s rhetoric in international climate discussions in my undergraduate thesis and this is something that still intrigues me”, Sanna reveals.

In addition to researching and studying China, Sanna has studied Chinese both in Finland as well as in China. Originally, Sanna envisioned taking advantage of her Chinese skills in her studies, but when her research developed and became more theoretical, there was no immediate need to utilize materials in Chinese. “For that reason, my Chinese skills have become more passive. In terms of my research, this is fine, as I’m interested in China’s role in international politics rather than China’s domestic policies”, Sanna observes.

Sanna has undeniably been active in her China studies. She obtained her doctoral degree in 2016. Her doctoral dissertation focused on China and the International Practice of Climate Responsibility. In addition to being a board member at the Finnish Peace Research Association, she is also a board member at the Nordic Association for China Studies.

Sanna Kopra (to the right) receiving the award for her paper on ‘China and International Climate Responsibility: Agency and Institutional Change.’ Photo credit: Liisa Kauppila.

All of her hard work in researching China and climate responsibility has certainly paid off. She won the International Studies Association English School Section’s Outstanding Research Paper Award last spring in the Junior Scholar category for her paper on ‘China and International Climate Responsibility: Agency and Institutional Change.’ Sanna divulges: “Barry Buzan, one of the gurus in the field, commented on the paper: ‘well done, read more, and carry on’. This alone was very reassuring for a young researcher like myself, but the award was the icing on the cake!”

Sanna has also recently published her first book named ‘China and Great Power Responsibility for Climate Change’, which deepens her earlier work on China and climate responsibility.

“Environmental responsibility is a meaningful way for China to define great power responsibility, and thereby legitimize itself as a great power. Although China has several domestic reasons to control climate change, Beijing is also unwilling to sacrifice its economic interests for the environmental good. This is why the European Union has a significant role – with ambitious climate politics the EU can encourage China to take even bigger responsibility”, Sanna discloses.

Cover of Sanna Kopra’s book, “China and Great Power Responsibility for Climate Change” (Routledge 2018). Picture credit: www.routledge.com.

The withdrawal of the USA from the Paris Agreement, and people’s increasing interest in the environment and sustainable development in general, underline the fact that Sanna’s book concentrates on an exceedingly current topic. Sanna flashes that she could even consider writing another book one day, but about China’s Arctic politics.

Indeed, several countries are interested in the Arctic and their resources, and China is no exception. One indication of China’s interest in the region is China receiving an observer status in the Arctic Council. This means that even though China has no voting rights, it can now participate in the Arctic Council as an observer country. Furthermore, the Arctic is “an important region for environmental sciences and China is interested in knowing how Arctic climate change can influence China in relation to food safety and weather phenomena, to name a few”, Sanna explains.

The Academy of Finland recently awarded Sanna with a three-year grant for her research on the rise of China and the normative transformation in the Arctic region in spring 2018. She is currently examining how the rise of China is shaping the processes in which notions of responsibility are defined, allocated and operationalized in the Arctic.

“While China’s Arctic interests have been studied a great deal, most of that research has failed to consider which values and norms actually guide China’s Arctic activities, or how China’s growing role in the area challenges the already existing norms and practices in the Arctic areas”, Sanna clarifies. This is what her current research delves into.

Sanna Kopra on a research exchange in Tromsø, Norway. Photo credit: Sanna Kopra.

When asked about her 2018 highlights, her response is immediate: publishing her first book and receiving a grant from the Academy of Finland. 2019 has also started memorably, as she is spending the first couple of months on a research exchange at the University of Tromsø in Norway. “I hope to learn a lot about Arctic politics and I look forward to meeting new people. I also wish to see amazing scenery – despite the polar night!”

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The Finnish Center of Chinese Law and Chinese Legal Culture is pleased to introduce its new Coordinator, Mr. Jani Mustonen.

A Mandarin speaker, Jani originally started studying Chinese language at the University of Helsinki. Jani holds a bachelor’s degree in East Asian studies from the University of Helsinki and has obtained his master’s degree from the University of Vienna, Austria, in the program of East Asian economics and politics. Jani wrote his master’s thesis on the privatization of state-owned companies in East Asia with the aim of entering international banking and business. However, Jani’s plans were quickly redrawn after having started working at the Embassy of Finland in Beijing. “Public diplomacy won my heart over” says Jani. “I initially thought of staying at the Ministry only for a short while but ended up staying for six years working for political, commercial and consular departments.”

Jani Mustonen, new Coordinator of the Finnish China Law Center

Jani has lived in China altogether for seven years but is happy to be back on Finnish soil. “I am very pleased to be able to put my work experience to good use here at the University. There is a lively and youthful atmosphere here and, in a way, it feels like coming back home. I still eat my lunch where I used to 14 years ago.”

“It’s a very exciting time to be working as the coordinator at the center”, Jani says. “My predecessors have done an incredible job in raising the center’s profile. The hard work has paid off handsomely, proof of which is the center’s role in the Sino-Finnish joint action plan.”

Jani replaces the center’s previous coordinator, Mr. Stuart Mooney. “Stuart’s contributions to the center were tangible and I have been quite impressed with the center’s development. We have been recognized by the highest level of government which gives us credibility and a solid base on which to build future activities. In the long term, I see growing demand for stronger synergies with other Nordic universities with regards to understanding Chinese legal system and cooperating with Chinese universities. I would like to work toward this goal.”

The center welcomes all inquiries, potential collaboration, and questions about bilateral Sino-Finnish legal issues. Based in the Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki, the center can be contacted either at chinalawcenter@helsinki.fi or  jani.mustonen@helsinki.fi

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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.

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The Finnish China Law Center has been recognized in a Joint Action Plan to promote the bilateral relationship between China and Finland, published by Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Chinese President Xi Jinping during President Niinistö’s state visit to China on 13 – 16 January 2019.

The Joint Action Plan between China and Finland on Promoting the Future-oriented New-type Cooperative Partnership 2019-2023 focuses on strengthening practical cooperation across ‘important fields of political and economic relations, sustainable development, connectivity and social equality’, the document’s preamble provides.

According to the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Plan ‘aims to make the cooperation between the countries more results-oriented and effective‘.

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.

The Plan notes that the this aim will be achieved through joint research projects, annual Sino-Finnish Comparative Law Seminars jointly organised by the Center and the CASS Institute of Law, China Law Workshops organised by the Center, joint publications, guest academic lectures and other initiatives.

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’.

Professor Chen, also Docent of International Law in the University of Helsinki, was visiting Finland to give a guest lecture in the Finnish China Law Center at the time the Plan was released.

Director of the Finnish China Law Center, Professor Ulla Liukkunen, said the Center’s role in the Joint Action Plan came at a time when across the Nordic region, and Europe more generally, there was growing interest in understanding the Chinese legal system and in promoting deeper knowledge of what could be called the ‘Nordic legal model’ in China.

More information on past and ongoing China law-related education and research initiatives undertaken by the Center and its 10 member institutions can be found on the Center’s blog and in its publication Report on its First Four Years (2013-2016).

Front page of the Joint Action Plan between China and Finland. Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and President Xi Jinping published the Plan to promote a bilateral partnership between the two countries during President Niinistö’s state visit to China in January 2019. Source: https://um.fi.
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