On November 29th 2019, the 16th “Top Ten Speech” Peking University finals were held in Beijing. Since this year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the theme of this competition was “My country, My people”. It was co-organized by the Communist Youth League Peking University Committee and the Peking University Graduate Union. STL 1L student Wang Chenyu stood out in the competition and won the championship after three rounds of speeches. This is the very first time that a student from STL had won this championship.
In the competition, all participants shared their own professional views and stories about their motherland, China. There were three speech categories for evaluating the contestants. First, they delivered speeches based on given topics, then came the challenge of impromptu speeches, and lastly, the battle for the top three. Wang Chenyu successfully won with his excellent on-stage responses and superb speech skills, which led him to the final championship.
Apart from this competition, Wang Chenyu had previously formed debate teams and achieved very impressive results in numerous debate competitions, including winning the championship in the 5th “Thinking Star” Shenzhen University Students Speculation Contest and the 7th Shenzhen University Youth Student Debate Competition.
After the competition, Wang Chenyu said, “Debate and public speaking have always been where my passion lies. I want to express my appreciation to PKUSZ and STL for continuing to provide us with opportunities to develop our interests, and I want to thank my teammates, teachers, friends, mom and dad and everyone who has supported and helped me.”
On November 18th, Professor Zhang Baosheng delivered a lecture titled “Rethinking the Development of China’s Evidence Law” at STL. STL Professor Thomas Man moderated the lecture. Many students and law professionals actively participated in this event.
Zhang Baosheng is a Professor of Law, Ph.D. Supervisor, and former vice President of China University of Political Science and Law (CUPL). He also serves as the Honorary Dean of the Institute of Evidence Science of Director of CUPL, the Director of Key Laboratory of Evidence Science of Ministry of Education of China and the Co-chair of the PRC national government’s “2011 Plan” – Cooperative Innovation Center of Judicial Civilization. He is the Executive Director of China Association for Trial Theory Research, Vice President of International Association of Evidence Science. His published books include The Theory and Methods of Legal Reasoning, Evidence Law, Report on the Development of Evidence and the Rule of Law in China, Report on China Justice Index, published articles included “Criminal Misjudged Cases and the Analysis on the Evidence of its Correcting Mechanism” and “The ‘Mirror of Evidence’ and the Plausibility of Judicial Proof”.
Professor Man began by briefly introducing Professor Zhang noting the importance of his contributions in promoting evidence law research and education and judicial justice in China. Professor Man pointed out that the value of law lies in practice, and that facts are the starting point and the foundation of legal practice. Therefore, evidence law is of great significance to the development of law and judicial proceedings.
Professor Zhang’s lecture focused on four aspects: the development of China’s evidence law, the main problems of China’s evidence system, the nature of fact finding, and the construction of China’s evidence law theory system. Professor Zhang believes that the development of China’s evidence law has gone through three stages: the beginning period (1978-1995), the formation period (1996-2000), and rapid development period (2001-2018). In 1978, evidence was incorporated in Criminal Procedure Law for the first time, establishing the “fact-based, law-based” principle. Today, the Supreme People’s Court has adopted four evidence rules on civil, administrative, death penalty, and illegal evidence exclusion cases. The legal system of evidence in China is shifting from rough to perfect.
The 2018 Criminal Procedure Law has made several major advances in the evidence system. It has modified the types of evidence, clarified the principle that the one who makes the claim has to bear the burden of proof, and partially established the principle against self-incrimination. Additionally, the standard of proof requires that cross-examination is a precondition for witness testimony to be adopted by the court. However, there are still many problems. For example, the principle against self-incrimination in Article 52 is only partially established, and imposes no prohibition on self-proving innocence, which means that the suspect’s privilege of silence is not recognized. Another problem is that standards of proof at different stages of criminal procedure (conclusion of investigation, prosecution, and conviction) are basically the same – beyond reasonable doubt. This standard is too high for investigation and prosecution, which may reduce the trial to a formality. In the United States, the proof for conclusion of the investigation has to establish a possibility about 40%, and the standard for prosecution is governed by the rule of preponderance of evidence, which is more than 50%. Moreover, there are also problems with cross-examination. Article 61 stipulates that witness testimony must be examined in court before being adopted. However, Article 195 allows for the reading of the testimony of witnesses who have not appeared in court, which is against the idea of legal adversarialism.
In summarizing the problems that have existed in China’s evidentiary system, Professor Zhang said that China has various types of evidence rules, amounting to 455 provisions. Nevertheless, we are still far from establishing a systematic and well-run evidence system. At present, one of the problems is the lack of logic. Relevancy is the fundamental character of evidence and the fundamental principle of modern evidentiary rules. Its central position has not been fully established in the Chinese system. The United States Federal Rules of Evidence Rule 401 requires both tendency and materiality of evidence and Rule 702 provides that the expert testimony should first meet the requirement of relevancy, then reliability. However, the evidence system in China does not entirely follow this logic. Many provisions of statutes and judicial interpretations value reliability more than relevance. In addition, China’s evidentiary system is not right-based and the transformation process to the modern evidence system has not been completed. For example, Criminal Procedure Law does not recognize the suspect’s privilege of silence. The second problem is the repetition of content. According to statistics, the repetition rate of evidetiarye rules in the three major procedural laws is as high as 37.2%. The third problem is logical confusion. There are many conflicting rules in the same statute. The fourth problem is that of content error. For example, the “correction” of illegal evidence in Article 56 of the Criminal Procedure Law goes against best practices in evidentiary rule.
Then, Professor Zhang introduced the nature of fact finding based on the theory of “mirror of evidence”. The fact finding in legal practice is the process of deriving the “factual truth” that happened in the past from the evidence. The evidence is a mirror reflecting the facts, and the “factual truth” is actually the product of thought. The “mirror of evidence” doctrine explains that what the fact-finder could find is only a plausible account of the truth. However, many judicial theories in China pursue absolute certainty in judicial proof, which is impractical and misleading.
Next, Professor Zhang explained his ideal evidence law system in China. First of all, Professor Zhang tries to unify China’s three major evidence systems (criminal, civil, and administrative) with generality and flexibility. Secondly, the evidence law system should be guided by the evidence law theory, with a logical map of different stages of procedures, pursuing the value of accuracy, fairness, harmony and efficiency.
In the open-question session, when asked about how China can learn from the US evidence law system under different backgrounds and judicial systems, Professor Zhang believed that, although there are many differences in the judicial system between the two countries, fact finding is a universal process with many cross-system commonalities. In addition, China’s incorporation of adversarialism requires it to improve its evidentiary system. It should learn from the advanced experience of the United States. When asked about the merits of confession rules in Chinese criminal procedures and plea bargaining in the United States, Professor Zhang believed that both systems are set up as such for efficiency considerations, and the practice must follow the rules of evidence to protect the defendant’s basic rights, and to insure procedural justice and fairness. Professor Man added that the fairness and reasonableness of these systems depend on how they run. For example, plea bargaining in the United States is conducted after discovery. The parties reach a decision after full disclosure of evidence, which can prevent certain injustices.
The lecture concluded successfully with students expressing their gratitude for Professor Zhang’s insights.
STL Professor Sang Yop Kang was invited to teach a corporate governance course at the University of Tokyo in August 2019. In cooperation with professors at the University of Tokyo, Professor Kang taught the course jointly with other world-leading scholars such as Curtis Milhaupt (Stanford Law), Georg Ringe (University of Hamburg), and Dan Puchniak (National University of Singapore). In his class, Professor Kang explored, in particular, controlling shareholders’ tunneling issues and topics relating to internal transactions in corporate groups.
At STL, Professor Kang teaches and researches in the areas of corporate governance, corporate law, law and economics, capital markets and financial market regulations. He is a leading scholar in the controlling shareholder ownership regime, corporate group, and other corporate governance issues. He is also a Research Member of the European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI), the world’s most prestigious academic association in corporate governance and related fields.
STL Professor Sang Yop Kang was invited to give a talk at the University of Tokyo’s symposium in August 2019. Faculty at the University of Tokyo invited several world-leading corporate law and governance scholars. Professor Gen Goto at the University of Tokyo chaired and presided the symposium. Professor Kang presented his research on “Stewardship in Korea and Corporate Governance Implications.” In addition to Professor Kang, other invited presenters include Professors Curtis Milhaupt (Stanford Law School), Georg Ringe (University of Hamburg), and Dan Puchniak (National University of Singapore). Invited presenters presented their research topics and discussed the current shareholder activism by institutional investors. Many scholars and practitioners in Japan attended the symposium.
Professor Kang is a leading scholar in the controlling shareholder ownership regime, corporate group, and other corporate governance issues. In his presentation, Professor Kang explored issues about stewardship of institutional investors in Korea, particularly the National Pension Service (NPS). The NPS is a quasi-government agency, but it is one of the largest, most influential institutional investors in the domestic capital market. Professor Kang analyzed the legal and socio-economic effects of the emergence of the government as a “significant shareholder” (but not as a “controlling shareholder”) in most of listed companies. Besides, Professor Kang examined the impacts of “ESG” (Environmental, Social, and Governance) investment policies that the NPS adopts.
On April 13, STL community celebrated its 10th anniversary with an alumni weekend. To mark this milestone, STL has launched a months-long series of lectures and forums that culminated in this alumni conference. During the event, STL graduates, students and faculty heard from STL’s founding members along with many esteemed members of China’s legal community.
In his welcoming remarks, incumbent Dean McConnaughay recalled a conversation he had with STL’s founding Dean, Jeffrey Lehman where Dean Lehman had insisted that no law school in the world was going to have greater impact than STL, not just on the development of the legal profession in China, but on the legal profession and, even more, on legal education worldwide. Dean McConnaughay reflected on how, at the time, those words were an inspiring vision. But today, as STL’s impact continues to grow, they are an inspiring reality.
The incumbent Dean of Peking University HSBC Business School, Hai Wen, was the the first to conceive of the idea that has become STL today. He recalled how the initial idea of creating STL as an experiment in legal education back in 2008 has confronted many doubts. Now law faculties in China, Europe, the United States, Russia and elsewhere continually seek more information about STL and its innovative program. Moreover, STL graduates now hold leading positions with world-leading law firms, multinational corporations, elite government office and NGOs.
Founding Dean and current Executive Vice Chancellor of NYU’s Shanghai campus, Jeffery Lehman focused on the significance of the rule of law in a country and in human beings affirming that the success that STL has achieved was a result of a combination of innovation, boldness and dedication. He believed that STL would continue to carry out its missions and make greater progress in the next decade.
Vice Dean Emeritus Stephen Yandle added that STL is not only a dream, but also a dream that has come true while STL Professor Mark Feldman talked about the “STL generation”. STL reflects larger trends in legal education, which have developed alongside greater global connectivity. Just as people no longer use landlines or compact discs, a legal education that fails to look beyond one’s own borders is no longer accepted. Additionally, professor Mao described STL as “unique”: unique legal education program, unique curriculums and unique teaching methods. STL has attached great importance to education and the development of its students and as such is becoming a utopia for legal education, attracting worldwide faculties and students.
Also among the speakers was Deputy Presiding Judge of The First Circuit Court of the Supreme People’s Court, Zhang Yongjian. Judge Zhang expressed his great wishes to STL. He has witnessed some STL students doing internships with The First Circuit Court of the Supreme People’s Court and was impressed by their working performance. He believed there should be further cooperation with STL. Subsequently, STL signed a Memorandum of Understanding with The First Circuit Court of The Supreme People’s Court and agreed on several major areas for cooperation, including internship, academic exchanges and research.
There is no question that the impact that was envisioned a decade ago has been slowly but surely unfolding. More critically, there is no telling where the ripple effects of the creation of STL will end. As STL celebrates its 10th anniversary, all indicators seem to confirm that the creation of STL will surely go down in history as a legendary transformative moment in legal education.
Susan Finder, STL Distinguished Scholar in Residence, recently spoke at an important international conference on Chinese law , entitled “China’s Legal System at 40 Years-Towards an Autonomous Legal System?” It was held from October 11-13, at the Law School of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor (Michigan Law) over three days. The conference has been described as a “Once-in-a-generation Conference on Chinese Law,” and included over 90 scholars from around the world. The founders of the field of study of Chinese law in the United States, Jerome Cohen and Stanley Lubman, were specially honored. Attendees from mainland China included Professor Wang Liming, former dean of the law school of Renmin University, Ji Weidong, former dean of the law school of Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shen Kui, of Peking University, and He Haibo, of Tsinghua University. In addition to many scholars based in the United States, others came from Australia, England, German, as well as the Hong Kong SAR and Taiwan. Professor Finder spoke on the topic of “What the Supreme People’s Court’s Support for the Belt & Road Initiative Reveals.” Professor Tom Ginsburg of the University of Chicago commented on Professor Finder’s paper. One of STL graduate Liu Chengying also attended the conference.
More recently, Professor Finder spoke on October 29 in Shanghai, at a conference co-sponsored by the Ministry of Justice and the Great Britain China Centre (GBCC). The topic of the conference was UK-China International Commercial Arbitration Seminar. Professor Finder spoke on the “Role of government and courts in supporting arbitration & related dispute resolution.” Other speakers included leading Chinese government officials, scholars, and arbitration commission heads, with attendees from all over China. Those invited by GBCC included Lord Phillips, the former president of the Supreme Court of England and Wales, Jonathan Wood, chair of the board of trustees, of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Steven Thompson, Head of the International Committee of the Bar Council of England and Wales and others.
On November 2, Professor Finder spoke at the Fourth Qianhai Legal Intelligence Forum, in Shenzhen. The topic of the conference was International Commercial Mediation: International Experience and Chinese Practice. The conference was sponsored by the Supreme People’s Court and China Law Society, organized by the Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court, Shenzhen Law Society, and Shenzhen Justice Bureau. Opening speakers included the Secretary of the Shenzhen Political-Legal Affairs Committee and President of the Shenzhen Law Society, Mrs. Anna Joubin-Bret, Secretary of UNCITAL, and Vice President Luo Dongchuan of the Supreme People’s Court. Professor Finder spoke on the “Coordination Mechanism for Diversified Dispute Resolution: the View from the Bridge.” Philip Yang, and senior judges from Hainan, Guangdong Higher People’s Court, and the Qianhai Cooperation Zone People’s Court shared a session with her.
From October 9th through 17th, 2019, Peking University School of Transnational Law (“STL”) delegation, consisting of Professor Jin Zining, Professor Huang Hui, and Assistant Director of Personnel Wang Wei, travelled to Frankfurt, Freiburg and Berlin in Germany. They successfully held the Chinese Law Faculty Recruitment Seminar and the “Localization of German Legal Commentary and Case Analysis Method” Seminar. Both seminars have attracted many Doctor and Master students from various prestigious law schools in Germany. Additionally, the delegation approached leaders of the University of Frankfurt, Freiburg University, Humboldt University, and Free University of Berlin to introduce STL. The event not only helped promote mutual trust and cooperation, but also facilitated cultural exchanges between China and Germany.
On October 10, the delegation visited the German BUSE.DE law firm, partner of Deheng Law Firm. With Mr. Chang Hongbin, German representative of Deheng Law Firm and Wolfgang Meding, partner of BUSE.DE Law Firm, the delegation discussed the ever-growing presence of Chinese businesses in the German and European legal market. More specifically, they discussed the opportunities and conditions for STL students securing local internship in Germany.
On October 11, the delegation visited the University of Frankfurt School of Law. Ms. Shukvani, who is responsible for the exchange of foreign affairs at the Dean’s Office and Ms. Lewald, who is in charge of the LL.M. program, hosted them. Ms. Shen Dee Kobbelt and Ms. Chen Yuxiang, Program Officers at the School of Law and Economics also attended the meeting. All parties discussed and harbored preliminary intentions about student exchanges, visiting faculty, and overall cooperation.
Subsequently, the delegation held the first overseas Chinese Law Faculty Recruitment Seminar and the “Localizationof German Legal Commentary and Case Analysis Method” Seminar at University of Frankfurt School of Law and Economics Building. Many young scholars from distinguished universities attended the seminar, including University of Cologne, Heidelberg University, Freiburg University, and the University of Frankfurt. All attendees took turn sharing their thoughts on the issue based on their various specialties. They reached a consensus that, following the current needs of China’s legal teaching, research, and legal practice, it is necessary to incorporate localization issues while introducing German commentary and case analysis methods. The process cannot be completed overnight. Rather, it should be done gradually and should juxtapose current practice in legal teaching and research with this new approach to legal education.
After the seminar, Professor Moritz Bälz, Associate Dean of the University of Frankfurt School of Law and Deputy Director of the Interdisciplinary Research Center of East Asia, met with the delegation and provided them with a tour of the campus. After learning about the highly internationalized characteristics of STL, including its innovative teaching and research methods, he expressed a strong desire to visit STL and further establish a partnership.
On October 14, the delegation visited the University of Freiburg School of Law and met with Professor Jan von Hein – the Dean of the School of Law, Professor Jan Lieder – the Dean of the Faculty, and Professor Bu Yuanshi – the Head of the East Asia Department of International Economic Law. The University of Freiburg is a hotspot for both the study of Chinese law and comparative law study of Sino-European law in the German-speaking region. Both sides soon agreed to strengthen contact and cooperation. Later, the delegation discussed with Chinese scholars and students in Freiburg comparative law research and teaching methods.
On October 15th, the overseas Chinese Law Faculty Recruitment Seminar and the “Localizationof German Legal Commentary and Case Analysis Method” Seminar were successfully held at Humboldt University. More than a dozen Doctors of law from Humboldt University, Free University of Berlin, Göttingen University, University of Bremen, and Keisen University attended the event. They took turns sharing their opinions on the localization of German legal commentary and case analysis methods. A heated discussion ensued.
On the morning of October 16th, the delegation visited the Free University of Berlin. Dr. Marzik, the director of the Library of the Free University of Berlin School of Law, showed the delegation around in the library. Afterwards, two renowned scholars, Professor Philip Kunig and Professor Detlef Leenen, who had deep interactions with the Chinese legal community, met with the delegation to introduce the relationship between the Free University of Berlin and the former famous Berlin University.
All in all, the STL delegation’s tour for overseas recruitment in Germany has concluded successfully by opening the door for future cooperaiton with a number of acclaimed German universities.
STL Assistant Professor Stephen Minas has presented the case study of Shenzhen at a global conference on cities and migration held in Florence, Italy. The launch of the Cities, Mobility and Membership Research Collaborative was hosted by the Robert Schuman Center for Advanced Studies at the European University Institute (EUI). The research collaborative has a genuinely global membership, including Peking University, and is organized by Professor Dr. Liav Orgad, Director, Global Citizenship Governance at the Robert Schuman Center.
The workshop included sessions on a variety of topics connected with the theme of cities and mobility, including urban citizenship, adaptive urbanism, cities as places of refuge, and cities and digitalization. Case studies were presented on these contexts from both developed and developing countries. In his presentation, Dr. Minas discussed the case of Shenzhen as a ‘new’ city largely constructed by internal migrants. Dr. Minas argued that the Shenzhen experience highlights several themes of relevance to the research collaborative, including migration and the challenges of sustainability and climate mitigation, migration and the digitalization of city infrastructure, and South-South cooperation.
On October 9, 2019, Professor Zhu Daming, Assistant Dean of Peking University School of Transnational Law (STL), attended the Seventh Member Representative Conference of Shenzhen Law Society during which he was appointed as the new executive director.
The conference summarized the work of the past five years and elected the new council and leading body of the Shenzhen Law Society. The conference called on the city’s legal circles to devote themselves to building Shenzhen into a pioneering zone, one that exhibits socialism with Chinese characteristics.
(Photo Credit: Shenzhen Law Society WeChat Public Account)
Professor Zhu Daming said that the Shenzhen Law Society is an important legal institution in Shenzhen. Being elected as the executive director in this conference reflects the Shenzhen Law Society’s trust in Professor Zhu Daming’s abilities. It is also a manifestation of the increasing integration of STL into Shenzhen.
The first law careers panel of the 2019-2020 academic year of STL was held on September 20 at Room 108. This panel was moderated by Professor Norman Ho and consisted of four leading corporate, litigation and IP partners from top law firms: Steve Kwok of Skadden, Michael Lin of Marks & Clerk, John Moore of Slaughter and May, and Choo Lye Tan of K & L Gates.
Steve Kwok’s (Skadden) practice areas include litigation, government enforcement and white collar crime, and cross-border investigations. Before he joined Skadden, he was the resident legal advisor for the U.S. Department of Justice at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, representing the United States in dealings with Chinese law enforcement authorities on criminal matters, particularly corruption, money laundering and fraud cases. He also previously served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York and clerked on the US Supreme Court (to Justice Anthony Kennedy).
Michael Lin (Marks & Clerk) manages the Life Sciences group in Marks & Clerk’s Hong Kong and Beijing offices. He provides IP-related services for companies in the pharmaceutical, chemical, bioscience, materials science, and mechanical fields. He once worked as a Patent Attorney at a large multinational FMCG Company specializing in pan-Asian patent matters in the chemical and mechanical fields.
John Moore (Slaughter and May) represents investment banks, corporations and private equity funds on capital markets, M&A and private equity transactions. He was a senior in-house counsel at Goldman Sachs. He also previously served as Deputy Chairman of the Listing Committee of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
Choo Lye Tan (K&L Gates) practices in the areas of securities, corporate finance, restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, funds and public and private equity issues. She is qualified to practice in a variety of jurisdictions, including Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Bermuda, and she is also a barrister in the UK. She frequently advises on cross-border transactions under offshore and Asian laws, particularly in the areas of asset protection, fund-raising, securities offerings, employment, and tax.
At the beginning, four partners shared one of their typical workdays. Michael Lin said that his workday usually begins with replying clients’ emails. As an IP attorney, he works around clients’ needs and may deal with different technical areas and legal issues each day, which is quite different from his previous in-house experience. Steve Kwok mentioned that for lawyers working in international law firms, in addition to daily legal research and writing tasks, it is common to communicate and coordinate with colleagues and clients in different time zones, and the working hours will be extended accordingly. John Moore said that as a lawyer specialized in corporate and capital market, his ultimate goal is to promote and facilitate transactions. His daily work changes depending on the specific stage of transactions. The daily work of Choo Lye Tan might include conference calls with clients, research on the market regulations, and providing clients with legal advice on multiple jurisdictions.
When asked about the reasons for choosing the current practicing areas, Steve Kwok believed that before making a choice, we need to consider what kind of lawyer we want to become. We should choose the field that we are interested in and good at, instead of solely focusing on the economic revenue. In terms of himself, he became a litigator because he likes to argue and to study in the handling of cases, which is also at his advantage. Michael Lin’s choice is connected with his educational background: he previously worked as a biochemist, and he was interested in both scientific theory and legal services, and naturally became a patent attorney. John Moore and Choo Lye Tan chose the current practicing fields for their interests in business. They mentioned that every individual company is the epitome of its industry and follows the business rules to guide their behaviors. Lawyers can be the storyteller of the company during their services. Choo Lye Tan also encouraged students to be open-minded and to find their own areas of expertise in their studies and practices.
In the next open questioning session, the four lawyers gave patient and detailed answers to the questions that students were concerned about. When asked if the scientific background is a necessary requirement for an IP lawyer, Michael Lin believed that it depends on the requirements of clients, the regulations of different jurisdictions, and the specific practicing areas. When asked how Chinese lawyers can better engage in international legal affairs, Steve Kwok said that language and cross-cultural communication skills are essential, and lawyers should accurately understand clients’ needs and respond to and resolve them in ways that are acceptable to clients. Regarding the question of the career development of female lawyers, Choo Lye Tan replied that female lawyers should put their professional skills first and try to do their best as lawyers, rather than paying too much attention to the label of “vulnerable groups” or labeling themselves as “female” lawyers. In answering the certificates helpful for corporate lawyers, John Moore pointed out that the most important thing is to understand the company’s accounting information, and certificates like CPA and CFA are not necessarily required. In addition, the four lawyers gave their own advice on issues such as lawyers’ licenses and choice of worksite.