Plan to increase confidence in city's ability to resolve international disputes Courts in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, will emphasize education of judicial talent by improving their ability to identify and apply international laws, court officials said. That will help the city handle an increase in overseas commercial disputes and contribute to the country's development in such issues. The Shenzhen Intermediate People's Court has made talent education a priority on its work plan by 2025. The plan will develop judicial reforms and help the city become a demonstration area for socialism with Chinese characteristics by rule of law, officials said. During a conference on work related to law-based governance in November, President Xi Jinping stressed taking a coordinated approach to promoting the rule of law at home and in matters involving foreign parties. That helps to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests, he said. Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012, building a legal system concerning foreign affairs and educating judicial talent has always been highlighted by the central leadership and seen as a key part of advancing the overall rule of law. Shenzhen, as the country's first special economic zone, has seen great reforms and innovations in the past 40 years. Xi, speaking at a celebration marking the 40th anniversary in Shenzhen, urged the city to set an example for others in a modernized socialist nation and called for the city's further opening-up. But Shenzhen, facing a complicated commercial situation as the world rapidly changes and various conflicts persist, has also witnessed the speedy growth of disputes involving litigants from overseas. The Shenzhen court said the number of overseas commercial cases it heard soared to 2,156 in 2019 from 912 in 2016. In the first 10 months of last year, the figure reached 1,633. Many of the litigants came from Hong Kong and countries including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Germany. "Their disputes not only covered traditional commercial industry issues such as purchases and loans, but also some in new investment contract sectors," said Zhu Ping, deputy chief judge of the court's division for hearing overseas commercial cases. Constant change Considering the boom and variety of cases, the Shenzhen court has decided to improve its ability to handle overseas-related affairs, "and the key to meeting the goal is to educate talent who can solve such disputes in an efficient and high-quality manner," Zhu said. Though the division Zhu works for has 11 judges with postgraduate degrees or above, she says that is not enough. "The educational background is just a start," she said. "What we need is continuous education, given that we have to catch up with the fast-developing pace of global commercial activities and constantly update rules." "When we have sufficient strength to handle international commercial disputes and ensure litigants from overseas will receive efficient legal services in our area, we'll see more investors come to us to promote our high-quality growth," she added. Gao Jie, a judicial official from the court's training division, said the main focus of such ongoing education should be improving judges' ability to "identify international rules or overseas laws in the shortest time and helping them apply legal documents accurately". A talent database is also being established by the court to educate more than 300 legal professionals to practice law from a global perspective while adhering to international trial standards by 2023, Gao said. Also, more than 50 Shenzhen judges with foreign language skills have played a role in the translation of legal documents and influential cases from home and abroad, she said. "When overseas investors find that their ideas on how to solve commercial conflicts are fully respected in our courts and know that the conflicts can be quickly solved through diverse means here, they'll set their sights more on us," she added. "Then Shenzhen will truly become a preferred place to handle international commercial disputes for litigants from home and abroad." To reach this goal, Zhu and Gao called for more personnel and information exchanges with overseas law schools. Leadership lauded Huang Jin, deputy head of the China Law Society, also lauded the central leadership's determination to advance education in global legal affairs, regarding it as a bridge between the country's law-based governance and the international rule of law. Huang agreed that educating judicial talent is necessary. He suggested that the country enact legislation in major fields involving overseas parties, such as economy and trade, and added that improving legal services and becoming involved in more international law enforcement cooperation are also essential. "We should learn to deal with overseas affairs with legal thinking and in legal ways by participating in global governance and taking a leading role in making international rules, as we need to maintain our national sovereignty, security and development interests by rule of law," he said.