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by Patricia Perlen
Do you want to escape the cold Melbourne winter? Want to complete a LLB elective unit in a condensed period of time? Want to go overseas during the winter break? Do you want to stand out from other applicants in Seasonal and Articled Clerk Applications? If you answered yes to one of more of these questions then the Chinese Commercial Law Study Tour may be for you!
I embarked on the Study Tour in 2004 and found it to be one of the most enjoyable subjects that I have completed during my degree. Not only are you learning about Chinese Commercial Law in Beijing which gives you a greater understanding and appreciation of the Chinese Legal system, but it is combined with field trips to the Chinese People’s Law Court, the State Intellectual Property Bureau and CIETAC (the Arbitration Commission) which gives you a practical application of what you have learned in lectures. Lectures are completed in the morning at the Chinese University of Political Science and Law followed by a fabulous Chinese banquet (you will not believe the amount of food – so do not worry if you skipped breakfast!) for lunch. In the afternoon there is usually an organised tour planned, and on a couple of occasions there is a free afternoon to do your own exploring.
I have been asked numerous times if the ‘study tour is all about study’. I can tell you that no, the study tour is defiantly not all about study! There are organised trips to places such as the Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square, the Summer Palace, the Forbidden City and the Pearl and Silk Markets. There are also a couple of free afternoons to do your own site-seeing and an optional trip to Xi’an to see the Terracotta Warriors.
Climbing the Great Wall of China in the scorching sun and blistering heat (sorry about the clichés) was an experience in itself, but well worth the blood, sweat and tears when you finally made it to the top! The markets are amazing places and many students fondly remember the calls of ‘over here pretty lady’ and ‘good price, cheap for you’! Not only could you pick up the latest ‘designer’ goods for next to nothing, it gave us the opportunity to practice our negotiating skills, with some students pushing it further than others, with opening offers of ¥1 (which is about 25 cents)!
For those that embark on the Tour, the nightlife must be experienced from karaoke to disco (this was quite an experience!) and everyone must go to the Coffee Beer Bar (next door to the Jimen Hotel), a favourite hangout of many students and the odd lecturer! Also, everyone must take a taxi ride, all I will say is hang on and make sure you get the hotel to write directions in Chinese! The trip to see the Chinese Acrobats was fantastic with some people having more exciting night out than they anticipated!
The Study Tour is a unique learning experience academically, socially and culturally and I cannot recommend it highly enough!
I found the classes and visits to be most illuminating. Particularly in providing a local perspective on the Law, and the political and social environment in which it operates within China. Then comparing that with the perception of the country, and its system, provided to us by the Western media.
There are some who claim that, just as the 20th Century was America’s century, the 21st will be China’s. For the study tour participants, even though our visit was brief, and our observations limited, this prediction will have considerable resonance. China has a long way to go, but the determination of its leadership, and the energy of its people, will ensure that this prediction will be realised.