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An international pilot competition sees Deakin Law students showcase their corporate negotiation skills in Shanghai.

Deakin Law School (DLS) students have made an outstanding performance in a first-ever legal negotiation competition held on 27 June at the Shanghai University of Finance & Economics Law School (SUFE Law).

As part of the DLS Chinese Commercial Law Study Program (18 June – 2 July), Deakin law students took part in the inaugural pilot Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Simulation Competition organised by the Foundation for Law and International Affairs (FLIA).

The BRI Simulation is an educational program for students and young professionals with the competition designed around simulated cases based on real BRI issues.
Students from DLS and SUFE Law were delegated to represent four interested parties - Sri Lanka Government and Human Rights International (SUFE Law), and China Mandarina Port Holdings Company (GW Holdings) and South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) (DLS). 

Using their legal knowledge and skills, the teams had to create better strategies and solutions for their organisations around issues such as investment and financial structure, environmental compliance, employment and welfare, and balancing regional powers and incorporate regional economies. Each team was assigned an external advisor for the competition. The two Deakin Law teams were advised by Professor Zhi'an Lu (Fudan University) for SAARC, and Mr Asen Velinov for GW Holdings. 

Competing in three strongly-competitive rounds (and with limited preparation time) the DLS teams performed exceptionally well in an intense negotiation battle that saw SUFE Law’s HRI team emerge as the overall winner. The DLS team representing GW Holdings (below) comprised of Hugo Le Clerc, Luke Smith, Max Hall, Eylem Onal and Sarah Ward, emerged first runners-up. 

Two DLS students were awarded individual prizes for their outstanding performances with Max Hall taking out first runner-up for Best Public Speaker and Joel Breckler winning first place for the Diplomacy Award. Joel felt that the competition provided an amazing opportunity for all law students. 

Having the opportunity to be one of the first to participate in the BRI competition is a massive privilege. Also, having the opportunity to meet students from SUFE Law School and compete with and get to know them was an enjoyable experience.

                        Max Hall wins runner prize for Best Public Speaker.                     Joel Breckler wins first place for the Diplomacy award.

Expressing their admiration for the DLS students’ performance, the BRI competition judges have extended an invitation for the Deakin students to submit their résumés for internship opportunities in China.

The winning team’s coach, SUFE Law’s Professor Mark Poustie, says the BRI Simulation Competition is a fantastic innovation which provides participants with opportunities to gain a deep understanding of the complex issues which can arise in BRI projects. 

Spreading understanding of the BRI is vital given the significance of this key Chinese policy initiative. FLIA deserves huge credit for developing the competition and SUFE Law School deserves tribute for hosting the very first BRI Simulation Competition and I hope that many more universities will want to participate in the next iteration of the competition.

Based in Washington D.C, the FLIA is an independent, educational, academic, and consultative think tank that also provides a professional network for law and international affairs. Its aim is to promote international communication, education, and cooperation at the intersection of law and international affairs. The Founder and President of FLIA, Shaoming Zhu, was very impressed by the efforts of Deakin Law students in the inaugural competition.

Deakin Law Students’ performance demonstrated their excellent knowledge in legal theory and international law, skills in comparative research, public speaking, debating, negotiating, and legal and diplomatic writing, as well as abilities in creative and critical thinking. They have also presented outstanding teamwork and some of them have showed great skills in leadership and diplomatic manner. The judges were very impressed with Deakin students’ performance, especially given the short period of time they had to prepare. I was very glad to see the judges recognised their talents and efforts. The awards they have received are very well deserved. I believe that their performance can be the model for future participants.

Deakin Law School is privileged to be part of the inaugural BRI competition and thank the organisers FLIA, Jincheng Tongda and Neal law firm, SUFE Law School and the two advisors of the two Deakin Law teams for their contributions. 

This year’s DLS China Commercial Law Study Program accompanied included 30 Deakin law students, DLS academic Dr Shu Zhang and Faculty of Business and Law marketing representative Steffan Irugalbandara. 

Designed to develop an understanding of the Chinese legal system and its relationships to history and culture, the students also attended campus lectures at SUFE, visited Shanghai legal firms, courts, museums and its World Financial Centre before travelling to Beijing to learn the history behind the structures of Chinese law and explore the Great Wall, Ming Tombs and Forbidden City.