Lively discussion on the infamous China

Positive views on China rarely flow as abundantly as they did in the panel discussion organised in Porthania on 16 January.

Lively discussion on the infamous China

The event was organised to introduce the newly founded Finnish Center of Chinese Law and Chinese Legal Culture. The centre is jointly owned by Finnish universities, and it aims at supporting the development of Chinese law by making the Nordic and European justice system better known in China. The headquarters of the centre are located in the Faculty of Law at the University of Helsinki.

The participants of the discussion were particularly excited about China's new five-year plan which, instead of economic growth, emphasises the increase of well-being in the form of legal protection, social security, education and health care.

China turns to the Nordic countries

Antti Herlin, Chairman of the Board of Directors of KONE Corporation, told that a professor from the Fudan University suggested in a lecture that China feels its days of modelling its development after the United States are over, and that the country is now turning its eyes to the northern parts of Europe.

Director Anita Lehikoinen, from the Division for Higher Education and Science at the Ministry of Education and Culture, picked up the theme and commented that if China is truly interested in learning from the Nordic countries, the opportunity should be utilised to the full.

– The development of China in areas such as sustainable development benefits us all – more than that, it is absolutely necessary, Lehikoinen said emphatically.

She also suggested that closer cooperation could help China open up to the world and lead to increased opportunities to export know-how in the field of social sciences to the country.

In turn, the floor was also taken by President Pekka Hallberg of the Supreme Administrative Court, SYL Chair Katri Korolainen-Virkajärvi, Vice Rector Heikki Mannila of the Aalto University, and Arto Mustajoki, Chair of the Board of the Academy of Finland.

A seed of doubt

The media often questions China's actual desire to apply the legal system of western democracies. Pekka Hallberg admitted that the suspicion of economic development taking precedence over democratic development is not unfounded. Still, he emphasised that major improvements have taken place.

– I believe that China is capable of very egalitarian discussion, when the subject is addressed in a polite manner, Hallberg said.

There was only time for a few questions. After the opening speeches, the audience had 15 minutes to offer their comments, and the discussion never reached the new centre's views on the imprisonment of dissenters or other usual sore points of the subject area.

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Text: Saku Schildt
Photo: Linda Tammisto
Translation: AAC Global
University of Helsinki, digital communications

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