Tianyang (Max) Chu

Building international law on common ground

There are over fifty recognized ethnic groups within China, speaking their own language. At the China Foreign Affairs University (CFAU) in Shanghai where Tianyang Chu is majoring in international law, he has encountered students from many ethnic and regional backgrounds. Before attending the university, he studied in a brief summer exchange program in Cheltenhem, England. “I have learned that it is almost impossible to find even two value systems that are fully identical,” Chu says and wonders if it is possible to find universal values in order to establish international laws that prepare the world’s people for increasing globalization.

“The humanities hold a unique attraction for me,” Chu says, including philosophy, sociology, and religion among his interests beyond the law. “They help me profoundly with my comprehension of the human world.” The limitless variety of values has brought disastrous clashes of ideologies that risk destabilizing the world, yet Chu concludes that the pursuit of international laws that uphold commonalities is essential to the prevention of regional armed conflicts. He sees such outbreaks as stemming from irrational racial discrimination and hatred and are often accompanied by the horrors of terrorism, genocide, and “untold tragedies that deeply shake the human conscience.”

Nevertheless, Chu declares himself an optimist. “Although many see the human world as full of insoluble problems,” he says, “I see that humans also have a vast range of interests in common.” And that is something to build on.

At CFAU, Chu signed on with several organizations to gain vital leadership experience, beginning with the External Affairs Department of CFAU Student Union where he took on the task of coordinating several universities in staging the National Collegiate Knowledge Contest of Diplomatic Protocol and Social Etiquette. He joined a group of seniors working hard on the project and quickly matched their fast pace, acquiring the ability to make efficient schedules and solve crises. He also learned the details of organizing such large-scale activities.

He soon became the Deputy Head of the department, initiating and coordinating other events. When the next protocol and etiquette contest took place, Chu’s leadership had doubled the number of participating universities, which led to receiving the Outstanding Student Union Leader award. He attributes part of his success to heeding the advice of Sam Walton of Wal-Mart who pointed out that “Outstanding leaders go out of the way to boost the self-esteem of their personnel. If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish.”

With this success and his high academic standards—he ranked first in both civil law and commercial law—his organizational skills were sought in organizing and researching the CFAU Civil Moot Court in his second year. At the mock trial, Chu took on the role of judge. With this further success, he represented CFAU at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) First Mainland China International Humanitarian Law Moot Court. His participation demanded extensive legal knowledge, excellent English proficiency, efficient teamwork, dedication to research, full confidence, and quick reactions. Chu, one of the youngest of the group, and his team earned second place, qualifying for the Sixth ICRC Asia-Pacific International Humanitarian Law Moot Court representing Mainland China.

Chu earned a leadership award when he participated in the 2006 Beijing National Model United Nations in May and again in October where his team won an outstanding delegation award. Additionally, he volunteered for the Asian Corporate Social Responsibility Conference, and hosted a charity banquet for the International CEO Roundtable of Chinese and Foreign Multinational Corporations. Then in 2008, he served as the “Chef de Mission” or volunteer coordinator for European delegations to the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

Despite his heavy academic load and his many activities, Chu often finds time to sing in the chorus and play on the International Law Basketball Team.