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The Inaugural JCICEL Conference Brings Discussion on the International Regulations in Relation to Technology

By Jayne He

Technology plays an increasingly important role in the modern life. However, the regulation of this fast-developing area is still underdeveloped. On 21 September 2020, the inaugural Tsinghua-UNSW Joint Research Centre for International Commercial and Economic Law (JCICEL) Conference on the theme of "Law and Technology: International Regulations" was held online. It provided a forum for engagement with academics, practitioners and the broader community in this field.

The conference consisted of three 90-minute sessions with opening remarks, two keynotes and two panel discussions. At the outset, the Deputy Co‐Director of JCICEL, Professor Deborah Healey of UNSW Law, welcomed all the guests, speakers, and the audience. The Acting Dean of UNSW Law, Professor Andrew Lynch, and the Dean of Tsinghua University Law School, Professor Weixing Shen, who is also the Director of JCICEL, made opening remarks. 

Professor Lynch emphasised that UNSW Law has a long-standing relationship with Tsinghua University Law School, particularly through the Herbert Smith Freehills China International Business and Economic Law (CIBEL) Centre. CIBEL has held keynotes in Beijing and Sydney, CIBEL Roadshows, conferences, workshops, and summer schools in conjunction with Tsinghua Law School. 

The Tsinghua-UNSW Joint Research Centre for International Commercial and Economic Law (JCICEL) was established in 2019 by UNSW Law and China’s Tsinghua University Law School. It aims to develop a group of world-leading researchers in the fields of international commercial and economic law on general legal issues and China-specific issues.

“There are many fields of international commercial and economic law that deserve further study in a fast-changing world. […] There are many challenges to the existing norms of conduct both locally and internationally,” Professor Lynch said. He added “Through rigorous research in trade, competition, finance, intellectual property, dispute settlement and other relevant areas, JCICEL aims to seek possible solutions to the challenges we are facing.”

Professor Shen pointed out that the rapid economic development of China has brought challenges to international commercial law and economic law, which require review and revision of current law. “With the importance of international economic integration, it is increasingly urgent to strengthen academic collaboration on international commercial law and economic law among our universities.”

The conference was privileged to have two eminent speakers in the research field to deliver two keynotes. The Dean of the Institute for International Dispute Settlement of Tsinghua University, Professor Yuejiao Zhang, who is also a WTO Appellate Body Former Chair and Judge, spoke on the topic of “An Appeal System in International Trade and Investment Dispute Resolution is Necessary”. The presentation drew on her experiences of the WTO rules and the challenges the organisation is currently facing.

The second keynote presentation by Professor Douglas Arner was on the topic of “Technology, Geopolitics and the Evolution of the International Monetary System”. Professor Arner is the Kerry Holdings Professor in Law and Director of the Asian Institute of International Financial Law at the University of Hong Kong. He has served as a consultant with a number of international organisations including the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and APEC. His presentation focused on the financial impact of the pandemic, digital currencies and regulatory technologies (RegTech).

The panel on “IP, commercial and dispute settlement” chaired by the Deputy Co-Director of JCICEL and Associate Dean International of Tsinghua Law School, Associate Professor Simin Gao, had a diverse discussion around technology. Associate Professor Alexandra George of UNSW Law presented on “Specialised Forums for Intellectual Property Dispute Resolution: Evolving Trends”, followed by Associate Professor Shujie Feng of Tsinghua University who spoke on “Software Disruption as Unfair Competition: China’s Experience in Legal Regulation of Technical Behaviours”. The presentation by UNSW Law’s Associate Professor Charlie Weng focused on the "Sunset Rule Legislation Study for Chinese Listed Dual Class Companies", and Associate Professor Kun Fan of UNSW Law presented her empirical study on "Judicial Mediation in China". The Director of the Centre for Intellectual Property at Tsinghua University Law School Associate Professor Guobin Cui commented on those presentations. 

The second panel, chaired by the Co-director of JCICEL, Professor Heng Wang of UNSW Law, focused on trade and investment. Dr Weihuan Zhou of UNSW Law presented on “Subsidising Technology Competition: China and International Trade Regulation”. He was followed by Mr Simon Lacey, a PhD candidate of the Herbert Smith Freehills CIBEL Centre, and Senior Lecturer at the University of Adelaide’s Institute for International Trade. Based on his experiences as the former Vice-President Trade Facilitation and Market Access at Huawei Technologies, he talked about “Technological decoupling, system fragmentation and the breakdown in international economic cooperation”. UNSW Law’s Dr Lu Wang presented on “FDI screening and the China‐EU investment treaty negotiation: balancing control and openness”, and Professor Weizuo Chen of Tsinghua University commented on the three presentations.

In closing the conference, Professor Wang thanked all guests, speakers, staff and the audience. He noted that the virtual conference had seen interactions between the audience and speakers via the Q&A, and he hoped the JCICEL would be able to provide more opportunities for engagement between the academics and audiences through both digital and physical platforms in the future.