"I am a problem solver”
A new European Co-Dean assumed office at the China-EU School of Law in July 2017: Prof. Bengt Lundell. The Associate Professor of Law at Lund University has an impressive track record in the fields of legal training, public law and development, in particular with China and Vietnam. What is his approach to teaching, what is his motivation to take part in Chinese-European legal dialogue, and how does he assess the potential of the China-EU School of Law? Here are a few answers.
What do you want to contribute from previous work experience to your new job as European Co-Dean at this jointly-run Chinese-European law school?
I am a problem solver. I was the Swedish Executive Director of a Swedish-Vietnamese twinning project by Lund University and Hanoi Law University and the Ho Chi Minh City University of Law which aimed at strengthening legal training in Vietnam and widening international cooperation for over 12 years until 2010.I am since then Honorary Professor atHo Chi Minh City University of Law. I was also a member of the Swedish national planning organs for higher education.So I have experience in complex situations concerning teaching. To solve such problems, you have to listen very carefully to what the others say. Try to get as much information as you can. Then usually you will figure out a good solution to any problem.
Where do you see the China-EU School of Law’s greatest potential for legal training in China and Europe?
The China-EU School of Law has enormous potential because it has a faculty of experts, there are European professors teaching European Law and Chinese professors teaching Chinese Law. Thus, Chinese and European students can familiarise themselves with the other legal systems in a very profound way. As there is a great need for legal talents with such expertise, they are very quickly employed after graduation. One aspect for the future of the China-EU School of Law might be to expand the Chinese Law Taught in English programme, which currently is a one-semester exchange programme, to a full master’s programme, to further increase China competence amongst European graduates.
You have contributed to the China-EU School of Law as a representative of the partner Lund University already before the school opened in 2008 and have been active in partner meetings and research activities ever since. Has the China-EU School of Law changed in the past decade?
The China-EU School of Law has most definitely changed. Chinese-European legal dialogue also covers sensitive questions. In my experience it takes a few years to build up trust. When legal experts from Europe and Asia meet each other for the first time at a conference, they describe their systems. When they meet for the second time, they start discussing the law. The China-EU School of Law provides the place where experts can meet each other, talk about law, try to understand each other and continue discussing their approaches. That is what I call dialogue. Naturally, sometimes there are misunderstandings, and we do not necessarily always have to agree. That is not as important. What matters the most is to keep up communication. We have built a strong network since 2008. People trust each other. On the overall political level of Chinese-European relations, there can be small ups and downs as there are in any political relationship; this does not affect our work at the China-EU School of Law. That is also a core capability of this school.
Your wife Zhang Yali is also a legal scholar just as you are – do you discuss law over dinner?
We scarcely discuss religion or politics, but we quite often discuss law, yes. As my wife is a Lecturer of Chinese Law at Peking University, she can help me to better understand the Chinese legal system. I think that she can explain Chinese Law to me in a way that most other people could not. The other way round, I specialise in European Public Law. So I can help her to better understand European Law.
More information about Bengt Lundell