|Zhang Yuejiao attends a meeting to take an oath to be a judge with the World Trade Organization's appellate body on May 20, 2008 in Geneva, Switzerland. [Xinhua]|
Though Zhang Yuejiao has many honors and illustrious titles in economics and law from home and abroad, Zhang said the reform pioneer medal she was awarded last year was the biggest recognition what she did over the past decades.
The 74-year-old was awarded the medal for her great contributions to China's legal affairs overseas at a grand gathering to mark the 40th anniversary of the country's reform and opening-up on December 18.
"At that moment, I was so excited with tears in my eyes, especially hearing President Xi Jinping sum up our nation's success in the economic and legal fields over the past 40 years, as I witnessed the entire process," she said to China Daily in an interview.
"The medal is not only for me, but also for the generations that put in lots of efforts in laws and international commercial disputes along the way to going global."
After graduating from a university in France in 1968, Zhang returned and worked for commissions regulating imports and exports as well as foreign investments. In the early 1980s, she furthered her studies in law schools at Georgetown University and Columbia University in the United States and got her master's degree there.
In the early years of reform and opening-up, she participated in the formulation of several economic legislations in China, including the Foreign Trade Law, the Foreign Economic Contract Law, and the Corporation Law. She also offered advice for the formation of related regulations.
Later, she began attending international activities such as the China-US intellectual property negotiations, and became a leading figure in some international institutions. Zhang was the first Chinese counsel at the World Bank, and also the first Chinese director at the Asian Development Bank's European department.
The day, November 27, 2007, marked one of the highlights in her career — Zhang was named as judge at the World Trade Organization's appellate body and was the first Chinese to assume such a position.
During her nine years working for the WTO, she took part in hearings for 20 cases, became the chief judge in 10 cases, and provided suggestions for more than 40 cases.
"I was strict with myself as what I did represented China," she said. "I had to be responsible for every case and litigant. Upholding justice and sharing professional advice have always been my duty."
Although she is over 70, Zhang said she never thinks herself as old. "I'm still passionate about my job which enriches my life," she added firmly. "I'm still curious about everything new in economics and law, and would like to take on the challenge."
When Zhang gets tired with work and meets difficulties, she likes to relax by playing table tennis and golf, or listening to classical music. "My job is my life, and life can also be more colorful with hobbies," she said.
As reform and opening-up brought fast economic developments to China, it also brought the country further to the center of the world stage. When talking about the change, Zhang showed her pride and confidence. "It's a great sense of achievement when you see more foreigners begin to understand and accept our development style."
The reform pioneer medal does not mark the end for this woman. Instead, Zhang has a full work plan for the new year. She worked 10 hours or more a day in January.
While helping to solve disputes related to international trade and investment, Zhang will be an expert at the newly established International Commercial Court under the Supreme People's Court.
In addition, she will spend more time educating talent as a professor at Tsinghua University this year.
"I'd like to share my working experience at international institutions to students, and hope to provide some opportunities for them to put their economic and legal knowledge into practice," she added.
(Source: China Daily)