Research

Focus on four main themes:

1. Rule of law building in China: analysing the judicial system and its need for reform, the improvement of the criminal trial system, administrative and civil litigation, and balancing the relationship between courts and extra-judicial organs.

2. Globalisation and its impact on the Chinese legal system: adopting and implementing international principles, rules and values in the Chinese domestic legal order. This covers topics in both public and commercial law.

3. EU-China trade and investment relationship: the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment; comparative study on foreign direct investment screening in China, the EU and beyond; intellectual property protection; and the EU’s and China’s approaches on reforming investor-state dispute settlement

4. Law and economic development: the role of law in facilitating sustainable economic development, enhancing environmental protection, stimulating efficient use of energy, corporate social responsibility, and anti-corruption activities, and the involvement and contribution of China to the Millennium Development Goals and the World Trade Organisations.

Projects

1. EU-China Legal and Judicial Cooperation (EUPLANT)

Since September 2018, the consortium project ‘EU-China Legal and Judicial Cooperation (EUPLANT)’ has been funded by the Erasmus + Jean Monnet Network. Led by Queen Mary University of London, the consortium consists of King’s College London, the University of Leuven, Bologna University, Tsinghua University, Beijing Normal University, City University of Hong Kong, and Erasmus University Rotterdam. From Erasmus School of Law, Prof. Yuwen Li, Prof. Fabian Amtenbrink, Prof. Michael Faure and Dr. Cheng Bian are members of the project.

During the next three years, EUPLANT fulfils three research objectives. First, it aims to highlight the historical links between European legal systems and the Chinese legal system, focusing on the strong influence of European legal traditions in the development of the Chinese legal system. Second, EUPLANT aims to uncover successes and failures of internationalisation of EU norms, standards, and procedures, as well as concrete cases of legal transplants in the interactions between the EU and the Chinese legal systems. Third, it focuses on the challenges and prospects for judicial cooperation between EU Member States and China in criminal matters that include mechanisms of mutual legal assistance, mutual recognition, and agreements on extradition, with a particular focus on the human rights risks inherent to cooperation in this area.

1. Reforming the Investor-State Dispute Settlement System

From 2017 to 2019, the China Exchange Program of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) funded the ECLC for the research project ‘Reforming the Investor-State Dispute Settlement System: European and Chinese Perspectives’, a collaboration between the Erasmus School of Law and Wuhan University School of Law. 

The two-year project was led by Prof. Yuwen Li and Prof. Tong Qi from Wuhan University. Other project members from the Erasmus School of Law included Prof. Michael Faure, Prof. Martijn Scheltema, and Dr Cheng Bian. With a focus on the EU’s proposal for a multilateral investment court, this project aimed to stimulate and present innovative ideas by European and Chinese experts concerning the China-EU Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, so as to make an academic contribution to the reform of investor-state arbitration. As a result, two international conferences were successfully held at Wuhan University in 2017 and at EUR in 2018; and an edited volume titled: China, the EU and International Investment Law: Reforming Investor-State Dispute Settlement edited by Yuwen Li, Tong Qi, and Cheng Bian was published by Routledge in 2019.

Since 2001, ECLC director Yuwen Li has, on behalf of the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights, Utrecht University, initiated and implemented the following joint projects with Chinese institutions. These projects were funded by the Dutch Embassy in Beijing under the Rule of Law Programme.

2. Research on Theory and Practice concerning the Reform of the Administrative Litigation System in China

In November 2010 the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Beijing approved the project of Research on Theory and Practice concerning the Reform of the Administrative Litigation System in China. The project proposal was submitted jointly by the Law School of Wuhan University and ESL of EUR. The project lasted for three years and was implemented by the Centre for Protection of the Rights of Disadvantaged Citizens (CPRDC) of Wuhan University and the Erasmus China Law Centre of Erasmus School of Law.

Goals of this project:

  1. Establishing and managing legal aid centres specializing in handling administrative litigation cases in six Chinese universities;
  2. Conducting empirical research on enforcement of the Administrative Litigation Law in China
  3. Organizing an international conference: comparing Chinese and European administrative litigation systems
  4. Organizing a training course on ‘skills in handling administrative litigation cases’ for lawyers
  5. A Chinese delegation’s visit to the Netherlands and other European countries
  6. Publication of three books on the judicial practice of administrative litigation in China and Europe
  7. Conduct research work on administrative litigation system in the Netherlands, Germany, the UK, and France.

3. Legal environment for NGOs in China

The project was implemented in close collaboration with the Institute of Law of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Its objectives were to improve NGO legislation in China and to promote the smooth development of civil society organisations. The project was set up in March 2001, originally for one year, but was extended for the period from October 2002 to September 2004. In 2006, it was once again extended for the period from December 2006 to June 2010. This project has published a number of books and articles in Chinese as well as two books in English. Freedom of Association in China and Europe: Comparative Perspectives in Law and Practice, edited by Yuwen Li, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Leiden, 2005, 448 pp. NGOs in China and Europe: Comparison and Contrasts, edited by Yuwen Li, will be published by Ashgate in London, December, 2010.

4. Improving human rights protection in criminal procedure in China

In cooperation with the Supreme People’s Procuratorate of China (SPP), the project aimed to increase Chinese prosecutors’ knowledge and understanding of the significance of the protection of human rights in the judicial process, and to facilitate the process of building an independent, fair, transparent, and efficient criminal justice system. This initial two-year project started in 2001 and was extended from November 2004 to June 2008. Approximately 3000 prosecutors followed the training courses organised under this project.

5. Protection of the rights of prisoners

This project was in cooperation with the Central Institute for Correctional Police of China (CICP, affiliated to the Ministry of Justice), and aimed to increase the awareness and capacity of correctional officers in protecting the human rights of offenders during the course of rehabilitation. The duration of the project was from November 2004 to June 2008. The project has provided training courses for more than 400 judicial officers working in Chinese prisons, and has published Handbook on Offender Human Rights Protection (translated and published in China), Making Standards Work, and Imprisonment Today and Tomorrow.

6. Anti-discrimination in employment policy

In cooperation with the China University of Politics and Law, this projects ran from May 2005 to February 2009. The project addressed the increasingly deteriorating situation in China with regard to disadvantaged groups in the labour market, such as women, people with disabilities, HIV/AIDS carriers, and migrant workers. The project’s activities focused on draft legislation on equal treatment and stimulated judicial review of cases of unequal treatment. A number of books were published in Chinese as well as the English-language book Taking Employment Discrimination Seriously: Chinese and European Perspectives, edited by Yuwen Li and Jenny Goldschmidt, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Leiden, 2009, 306 pp. 5

7. Training Chinese NGOs

In collaboration with the Ministry of Civil Affairs in China, two training courses were organised in Beijing in 2006. One course was for civil servants working in NGO administration departments; the other was for managers of Chinese NGOs.

8. Training Chinese lawyers in international human rights law

The project was a cooperation with the Case Study Committee of the China Law Society to provide a number of training courses on international human rights law for Chinese lawyers, and to create for Chinese lawyers a website on human rights and the rule of law. The project lasted from July 2008 to August 2010. Approximately 180 lawyers followed the training courses.

9. Improving judicial ethics of Chinese judges

In collaboration with the National Judges College of the Supreme People’s Court. It focused on training Chinese judges in judicial ethics and trial systems in European countries. Judges and professors from the Netherlands, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom were invited to take part in the training courses. The project ran from 2002 to 2005.

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