Over 20 students signed up to attend the Law in China program with Profs. Hughes, Pan and Yablon this winter. When we all met each other first at the orientation meeting near the end of the Fall semester, I realized that I only knew one or two other students who would be on the trip. And that’s how I knew that this was going to be a great winter break.
The flight there to Beijing was, well, long and I guess that was to be expected. But I could hardly sleep during the 15 or so hours because the whole time I was thinking, “I’m going to China!” It just had not sunk in, even when we landed, we were exhausted and took a 40-minute bus ride to our hotel in Beijing. I was beyond excited.
In Beijing, we focused on Intellectual Property with Prof. Hughes. Before leaving for the trip we had assigned readings that gave a good foundational knowledge of what exactly is intellectual property, and exposed us to treaties and articles that explored the protection of IP rights globally. Armed with all of this knowledge, we visited Beijing Normal University for a joint lecture on IP issues, and spent time with the students as well. We also visited China’s State Intellectual Property Office to learn of their day to day operations, as well as the law firms of Jones Day and the China Counsel for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) Patent and Trademark Office to learn how U.S. and Chinese law firms are handling IP issues in China. For someone who has yet to take an IP related course, this half of the Law in China course was informative and interesting; I was grateful that it didn’t all go over my head. That only happened when the discussion turned to patent law.
We rounded out our stay in Beijing with group trips to the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and a day at the Great Wall, which were all amazing. For the Great Wall, we all took a chair lift up to the top of the wall, and then, in order to get down, we all rode toboggans down a long curving “slide.”
I should also mention that Beijing was freezing. Even wearing leggings and leg warmers underneath my jeans along with four pairs of socks, I still felt like at times I was going to lose my toes. It was brutal. But it turns out that this January was the coldest winter that Beijing had seen in almost forty years. So I knew that it wasn’t just the Nigerian in me that was alarmed by the weather.
After Beijing, we left for the second half of our trip in Hong Kong. The difference in temperature was phenomenal. I didn’t need to wear my winter coat, which was a welcomed relief. In Hong Kong we focused on corporate law and regulatory issues. We visited not only law firms, but also China’s Security Fraud Commission, the Bank of East Asia and Nomura Securities as we listened to presentations about corporate law in China and the nation’s development as a rising global financial center. At the Chinese University of Hong Kong, we attended a colloquia focusing on different views on financial market regulation in light of the present financial crisis.
The most exciting parts of the seminar were the unplanned excursions. Group travel can often be a trying experience, even more so when in a foreign country with people you don’t really know. But we lucked out and didn’t have any issues. Spending time together on long flights and layovers in airports did a lot to break the ice and soon, I got to know everyone on the trip. We were all intent on making the most of this trip because for most of us, it was the first time we were in Asia. There was not a minute of fun to be spared. We went out together, making plans of our own to see the sights, see the markets, haggle down the price of panda-hats (which are all the rage in China, believe me) and of course exploring the night scene. Hundreds of photos and hours of video footage later, this was a trip that I am grateful to have taken part in.