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DLS students gain a unique perspective of China’s legal system

Deakin students take a legal-eyed view of Shanghai and Beijing.

Recently returned from an intensive in-country study of Chinese commercial law, Deakin law students have had the opportunity to compete in an international law negotiation competition, attend university lectures in Shanghai, visit legal firms, courts, commissions and explore iconic landmarks across China.

Accompanied by Deakin Law School (DLS) academic Dr Shu Zhang and Faculty of Business and Law marketing representative Steffan Irugalbandara, the 30 DLS students were part of the 2018 DLS Chinese Commercial Law Study Program Tour that’s designed to develop an understanding of the Chinese legal system and its relationships to history and culture.

Dr Zhang says the 2018 tour provided students with a unique opportunity to study overseas and understand China’s legal system and its commercial law and practice.

Students not only obtained a general understanding of different aspects of the Chinese legal system and the Chinese commercial law through lectures provided by Shanghai University of Finance & Economics Law School (SUFE Law) scholars from a comparative law perspective, but also had the chance to visit different legal institutions and communicate with scholars, students, judges and legal practitioners who study and practise Chinese commercial law.

In a first-ever opportunity, the Deakin students also gained first-hand negotiation experience in the pilot Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Competition at SUFE Law alongside traveling and living in two of China’s largest cities, Shanghai and Beijing.

Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Commerce student Joel Breckler took out first place for the Diplomacy Award in the BRI Competition.

My goal has always been to become a commercial lawyer on the international stage, and I think this study tour is the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture and understand how the laws overseas impact the laws at home and how they compare and contrast. It is a great way to improve your career path to gain a competitive edge when you’re making applications for graduate roles.

In addition to visiting major sights in Shanghai and Beijing, Joel says another highlight was participating in the BRI negotiation competition.

‘It was a really enjoyable experience to meet with, get to know, and compete with students from SUFE Law School in the first-ever competition.’

Professor Weijun Ge, Vice Dean of SUFE Law School, says the Chinese Commercial Law Study Program Tour provides an excellent opportunity for students of both Deakin and SUFE Law to better understand each other’s cultures.

I hope through the program that these two law schools will promote further relationship and collaboration in the future.

During their stay in Shanghai, the students attended multiple lectures hosted by SUFE Law School academic staff. Each lecture represented a different area in Chinese commercial law. The lectures covered an introduction to the Chinese legal system, Chinese tax law, financial law, employment and labour law, Intellectual Property law, company law and comparative environmental law.  

Deakin Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Arts student Sarah Ward says the opportunity to study and compare Chinese commercial law to Australian commercial law was invaluable.

To have this experience and meet people in the industry in China – through the educational and cultural visits – has helped give me a better understanding of where I might want to go in the future. This trip was incredibly insightful and I really enjoyed learning about specific areas of law in particular Chinese labour law. There are lots of contrasts between Australian law in that respect and I definitely see myself after this tour considering coming over here and spending some time working in China in the commercial law industry.

The opportunity for the Deakin students to explore the ancient and modern culture in China provides a much greater understanding of how China operates as society says Dr Zhang.

It is fantastic that these unique experiences can contribute to their study and career development in the future.

Highlights from the 2018 Chinese Commercial Law Study Program Tour itinerary included:

– Shanghai 1st Intermediate People’s Court

Students gained an overview of the history of the Chinese legal system, the current judicial system in China, how each court operates including the structure of a typical court case.

– World Financial Centre & China Art Museum

The China Art Museum contains historic paintings, sculptures inherent to Shanghai and China while the World Financial Centre is a 450 meter-high skyscraper overlooking Shanghai.

– Chinese International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission – Shanghai Sub-Commission

Students learnt about the development of the international commercial arbitration in China and also had the opportunity to hear from the Secretary-General of CIETAC Shanghai Sub-commission, Ms Yani Jiao.

– Yu Garden and the Temple of the Town God (Chenghuang Miao) 

The Yu Gardens are the home to rich history, architecture, and Chinese gardening style in the late Ming dynasty dating back to the 15th century. It portrays the lifestyle of the ancient Chinese civilian.

Old town of Zhu Jia Jiao 

Students travelled to the old town of Zhu Jia Jiao and explore a 1000 year-old rural water village and ancient houses now transformed to local businesses.

– King & Wood Mallesons, Shanghai

Students visited the Shanghai Office of King & Wood Mallesons, one of the most innovative law firms in the world. This is the first global law firm to be headquartered in Asia. The firm is geographically located in the world’s growth markets and financial capitals.

– BRI Pilot simulation competition

Two DLS teams competed in the first-ever legal negotiation battle with two teams from SUFE Law. Here's a full recap of the BRI competition. 

– Peking University Law School, Beijing Yilian Legal Aid and Research Centre for Labour

A visit to the oldest law school in China and a top-ranked legal educator in the world, Peking University Law School provided rare insight into the Chinese higher education system, legal education in China and opportunities offered by Peking University Law School. An interactive seminar by Assistant Professor Tian Yan was followed by a visit to Beijing Yilian Legal Aid and Research Centre for Labour, where students had the chance learn how employment law was implemented in China. 

– The Great Wall of China

One of the world’s seven wonders, the Great Wall of China gave Deakin students the opportunity to walk along the Badaling section of this 21,196 km-long structure.

– Tiananmen Square and The Forbidden City

Led by an experienced tour guide, students walked through Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City where they had the chance to learn and understand about the rich history of Beijing. 

For more information regarding upcoming international law study programs visit the enhance your study page.

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