International Law School Student Forum in Beijing: HSE Students’ Impressions
In early December 2017, Beijing hosted an international law school student forum ‘One Belt – One Road’, which attracted students from European and Asian universities. Three students from the HSE Faculty of Law took part in the event. Danil Drozd, Natalia Subbotina, and Rozalya Sharipzyanova recently shared their impressions with the faculty’s news service.
— Who participated in the event and what was it like?
Danil Drozd: The forum attracted 50 people, who came from countries located along the Silk Road. The official language of communication was English. The forum included a conference and some other events promoting learning about other legal systems and intercultural communication between the participants. This was a real discussion platform, where undergraduate, master’s and doctoral students, as well as university professors and professional lawyers had their say. The topics of the presentations varied from general issues of education and legal careers in ‘One Belt – One Road’ initiative countries, to more specific problems, such as some issues of intellectual property law.
— What was your presentation about?
Natalia Subbotina: When we were preparing our presentation, we were limited in terms of time and, until the last moment, the requirements for the papers weren’t absolutely clear. That’s why, to avoid any problems, I decided to prepare a paper on a topic related to the name of the session: 'Opportunities and Challenges for the Law School Students under the “Belt and Road” Initiative'. While I was working on the paper, I discovered that, first, there is a lack of good sources in Russian on this topic, so I used sources in English and even Chinese. Second, all the debates around the ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative are mostly dedicated to economic problems, and there is almost no discussion about the legal part.
In my paper, I studied the opportunities that I believe are the most important for students as part of the ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative, and the problems that they will almost certainly face when they implement the opportunities related to integration in this project. Both positive and negative sides of student involvement in this initiative are purely my opinion, based on the analysis of the material I collected. When I was sending the paper to China, I had concerns that it wouldn’t be approved, but the paper was not only approved, but even received an award for the best research paper.
Danil: Speaking about the paper’s topic, I tried to choose a problem that would be equally interesting and useful for lawyers from various countries and various areas of law. As a result, I chose the specifics of starting a legal career in Russia. I made a special focus in my paper on the procedure of getting the status of a judge. By the way, I came up with the idea of this research after I attended seminars by Anatoly Kovler, Professor at the HSEDepartment of Judicial Power.
— What did the forum workday look like?
Rozalya: The forum itself lasted only one day out of the five days we spent there. The forum was split into four sections, each of which included presentations and discussions. The other days were planned by the forum organizers, taking into account the guests’ willingness to visit as many important and professionally notable places as possible.
Natalia:The forum programme included visits to the China Forensic Museum, the Central Stadium built for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, and Tian Tai Law Firm. Everything was very impressive, since it’s a different country, and a different culture, but, undoubtedly, the most impressive visit was to the Great Wall of China. We came up to the tallest tower on the part of the wall that we visited (theoretically, the whole wall can be walked in 75 days, if you travel without stops – author’s note), and came down after walking along the whole section. The emotions we felt during the ascent and descent can’t be described. It’s a sight to behold.’
— Did you have an opportunity to see Beijing?
Danil: Of course, the official programme couldn’t cover visits to all the landmarks, but we had free time on some of the evenings, which allowed us to visit downtown Beijing. We saw the Forbidden City, walked along Wangfujing, a popular shopping street, looked at the surroundings of the Temple of Heaven, and many other things.
To me, Beijing seemed nothing like the Russian capital. Take, for example, transportation. Many people use bicycles or various types of motorbikes, and each of them has a kind of warm blanket attached to their handle bar. This is because the weather in this part of China feels much cooler, despite the deceptive figures on the thermometer and the constantly clear skies.
The metro is no more crowded than the Moscow one. On many stations, the platforms are isolated with transparent walls and sliding doors. All big items are x-rayed at the entrance, and each passenger is quickly inspected by female metro officers. Almost all signs have an English translation. But meeting someone who would talk to you in English, even among the service staff, is a rare occasion in Beijing.’
— What are your impressions of the trip? Was the event useful?
Danil:I’ve got very positive impressions of the trip. I learned a lot, not only about specific topics in law, but about legal systems as a whole. I got some valuable experience of communicating with people of various nations. And most importantly, the trip to this forum has been an incentive for further development, both professional and personal.
Natalia:Although the trip was rather short, and I hardly had time to understand Chinese culture, let alone Chinese law, I can honestly say it has been very useful. The great thing about international forums is that they bring together representatives of various countries, ethnic groups, ages, and, of course, legal systems. And if you don’t waste time, you can learn a lot and establish some useful connections.
Rozalya: For me, the most important thing was that the trip included not just a tourist route around popular landmarks, but had a legal focus, such as the visit to a Chinese law firm. And this opportunity to visit places not available to the ordinary tourist was particularly valuable for me.
The Faculty of Law news service is grateful to the conference participants who shared the information for this publication.
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