China is developing on its own terms

The new developing China has taken an interest in the Nordic countries. The University of Helsinki will collaborate extensively to support the development of the rule of law in China.

China is developing on its own terms

“The Chinese know that they have a lot of development work to do in several important areas,” says Kimmo Nuotio, Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Helsinki. “Although the socialist legal system restricts the rights of individuals, China is clearly trying to implement social reforms.”

Nuotio believes that the development of its legal system is imperative for China’s economic growth. It is no coincidence that faced with huge challenges, China has turned its attention to Europe.

“In the American concept of justice, individual rights trump the powers of government. This is alien to the Chinese. To them, the Nordic countries make for an interesting social model as the implementation of regulation is here considered a joint project,” Nuotio explains.

A new centre for collaboration

The increased interest in dialogue is about to lead to the creation of a new channel for discussion between China and Finland. Once established, the Finnish Centre of Chinese Law and Chinese Legal Culture will be the first of its kind in the Nordic countries.

The University of Helsinki–based Centre will focus on research collaboration and comparative law analysis between Finland and China.

“The goal is to support the development of the rule of law in China by promoting awareness of Nordic and European law. I also hope that Finns will learn more about China,” Nuotio notes.

All Finnish faculties of law will participate in the Centre’s operations. The Chinese participants will include the universities of Beijing, Wuhan and Renmin as well as the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

“The aim is to foster collaboration not only through research but also through student exchange and Master’s-level education,” Nuotio says.

United by their respect for mediators

According to Nuotio, one of the common features of the Chinese and Finnish legal philosophies is their respect for mediators. In practice, discussion with the Chinese partners will focus on administrative law and criminal procedure law, among other topics.

“The decision-making practices of administrative officials, including the right to appeal, are also relevant to human rights. This is also true for Finland: the implementation of many key rights depends on very basic things,” Nuotio says.

Nuotio believes in the collaboration’s potential, although ultimately it is up to China and its 1.3 billion people to decide how the Chinese system will be affected.

“China is developing on its own terms, and it would be foolish to think that we can have a direct impact on it. But we can get involved and engage in dialogue. Finland can play a role by sharing its own experiences,” Nuotio sums up.

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Text: Virve Kuusi
Photo: 123rf
Translation: Language Services, University of Helsinki
University of Helsinki, digital communications

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