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by Adele Millard
Deakin University's Chinese Commercial Law 2006 study tour to Beijing, run in conjunction with the Chinese University of Political Science & Law, was without a doubt the most enriching educational experience of my 42 years of life. Our lecturers came from a diverse range of professional and academic experience - locals and expatriates who had been educated and worked locally and abroad in industry, finance, law and government. Daily field trips ensured that we were constantly able to contextualize what we had learnt in lectures back in the 'real world' - especially, it might be said, when it came to intellectual property, labour and occupational health and safety laws.
I came away from China feeling as though I had been immersed in the subject matter. Less than one month later, I am already using the information and networks gained from the study tour in courses of study at Deakin and in my own private investment decisions. Kui Hua Wang and her staff, and of course our hosts at the CUPL, really do have my utmost respect, gratitude and appreciation.
by Peter McKimmie
It was with some apprehension that I set out on the Chinese Commercial Law Study Tour 2006. I had never spent any time in an Asian Country, I had spent nearly all my life in country Victoria and I had experienced very little exposure to Asian culture or people. After enrolment I went to the pre tour information session at Burwood and all the other students there seemed to be about half my age. (On the tour the students were in fact of a variety of ages.)
However after having the recommended immunisations, reading the DFAT travel warnings and purchasing a Lonely Planet Mandarin phrasebook I joined the group flight from Melbourne.
After an unexpected detour to Hong Kong we arrived at Beijing airport in the early hours of Day One. The approach of the immigration and customs personnel contrasted with the enthusiastic greeting given by the Chinese University of Political Science and Law students holding a Deakin University sign to welcome us at the airport. A bus trip through Beijing delivered us to the Jimen Hotel, which was to become home for the next fortnight. The two star accommodation was good, each room having its own bathroom, double glazed windows and air-conditioning.
The Jimen Hotel was an easy 15 minute walk from CUPL where we attended lectures. A typical weekday consisted of attending lectures in the morning followed by field trips in the afternoon.
Lectures, as expected, focused on various areas of Chinese Commercial Law - particularly their application in an international context. Lecturers however also spoke candidly on the Chinese Government and matters such as the death penalty, the one child policy and the reality of how Foreign Enterprises operating in China are able to side step the legislation designed to provide certain standards for Chinese employees. Also of interest is the power of the police to administratively detain people for up to 30 days as a punishment without charge for minor offences.
A striking aspect of China is the contrast between rich and poor. Expensive imported vehicles drive the Beijing roads on which other Chinese people live in crowded conditions and obvious poverty. Construction of large buildings goes on around the clock and many of the labourers from rural areas live on site in very basic conditions.
We were supplied with a variety of very good food including a Chinese breakfast each day at the Jimen Hotel. The food I liked best was from the local restaurants within walking distance of the Jimen Hotel. Most of the students seemed to develop a significant taste for Chinese beer. The markets are full of very cheap buys - however not being totally comfortable with the Chinese way of bartering I overpaid for several items. The young women of our group seemed to be the most assertive and effective bargainers.
We went to the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, and the temples and attractions that most tourists in Beijing would see. However being on the study tour gave an insight into life in China that a standard tourist would not get including the perspective offered by the lecturers and Chinese Students.
One field trip to The People's Court in Beijing to see the criminal trial of a Chinese accused man charged with serious assault reinforced the differences between the Chinese justice system and ours. The impression gained was that in China the prosecution and the judiciary almost work as one. Being present in the in session Court I think gave me a taste of the sense of helplessness that must be experienced by Australians facing Courts overseas where they do not understand the language or the procedure.
A highlight of the trip for me was a group of the "youths" from the study tour organising me a dinner and night out on my 40th birthday.
Another aspect of the tour I enjoyed was finding myself among a group of students I did not know, who were themselves from a wide variety of backgrounds. From among these I have made some good friends. I highly recommend the study tour to any student. As an off campus student it was a welcome change from studying in isolation. The Chinese Commercial Law Study Tour is a great opportunity to meet new people, to study in a different country and experience another culture while gaining a unit towards your degree between trimesters.
Photos courtesy of Peter McKimmie.