-- Translation of advance text --
Professor Zhong Zhihua,
Professor Wu Qidi,
Partners, friends and supporters of the Sino-German School for Postgraduate Studies,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to be talking to you here today as we mark the 20th anniversary of the Sino-German School for Postgraduate Studies at Tongji University in Shanghai.
Thank you very much, Professor Thomsen, for inviting us here to your modern Architekturforum.
I am also delighted to see so many of our Chinese partners here today, including such high-level representatives as Professor Zhong Zhihua and Professor Wu Qidi.
By attending this celebration we are emphasising how important cooperation in higher education is to both countries, Germany and China. And we are showing just how apt the title of today’s event is: “Studying, researching, shaping together” – each of these four words plays a vital part in our jubilee celebrations. Today we are showcasing a true beacon project of Sino-German cooperation in higher education, science and research.
Professor Zhong Zhihua, we are very grateful to you for your support for academic exchange with Germany and in particular your support for the School.
I would also like to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks to the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for extending the invitation to and organising today’s important event and for its work to foster academic quality.
And finally, I am especially pleased that our host, the Technische Universität Berlin, with its Economics Faculty, and the Ruhr-Universität Bochum – from my home region – with its Mechanical Engineering Faculty are two of the four leading German partner universities in this joint project.
In 2017, a total of 3500 academics were sponsored by the German Academic Exchange Service alone.
The 35,000 or so Chinese students make up the second-largest group of foreign students at German higher education institutions. We are delighted that so many young people are so open to the world and want to come to Germany to pursue their studies and research projects.
Within the context of its some 1300 higher education cooperation agreements, Germany has placed a focus on academic cooperation in China.
Germany has pursued extremely ambitious projects with Tongji University in particular for a very long time now: the German Medical School in Shanghai was founded as early as 1907, later becoming established as Tongji University.
The many joint training establishments and the German Library bear witness to impressive links with Germany at Tongji University. It was not least this special bond that led former Federal President Joachim Gauck to give a keynote speech there in March 2016.
Twenty years ago, Tongji University, the Federal Foreign Office and the German Academic Exchange Service embarked on something new: an exciting political and academic adventure, deriving from the ambitious idea for a joint German-language graduate school with substantial support from the business community.
Today the School, in collaboration with 27 universities in Germany, offers twelve dual Master’s courses and two dual doctoral programmes in mechanical engineering, automotive technologies, electronic engineering and economics for Chinese students and an ever growing number of German students.
The School gives its almost 500 Chinese and German Master’s students a practical bilingual education that teaches them to be competent leaders familiar with both cultures.
Another important aspect which I would like to mention is the close cooperation between the business and research communities: German and Chinese companies maintain 20 endowed chairs, and provide internships and grants.
They also provide funding to equip lecture halls and laboratories and engage in teaching, thus making an absolutely crucial contribution which is unique in the context of DAAD projects.
And so I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the companies, representatives of the foundations and representatives of the partner universities in Germany.
Twenty years on from the foundation of the School, we have achieved a great deal.
Now we are setting new goals for ourselves: the introduction of new courses, the development of German students’ Chinese cultural competence, and the stepping up of cooperation with other faculties at Tongji University.
This is an expression of the prevailing spirit of renewal and the continuing pioneering spirit, as well as of the desire to continue to play a leading role in Sino-German higher education cooperation.
Its current research focuses – digitisation, Industrie 4.0, smart cities and sustainable society – ensure that the School is a motor for innovation and a platform for dialogue on key issues for the future affecting both Germany and China.
They all tackle questions which our societies have to meet head on and to which we need answers.
The Sino-German School for Postgraduate Studies is just one indication of how close and trusting our bilateral relations are.
Our two countries also maintain a comprehensive strategic partnership.
Trade has brought both our countries prosperity.
The path towards resolving many global challenges runs through China, and China is increasingly calling for a global leadership role.
In seeking solutions to these challenges and strengthening a rules-based international order, Germany expressly looks to China – as a partner.
Because together we bear responsibility for peace, stability and prosperity in the world.
In this connection, a profound mutual understanding is an important factor for successful cooperation. That is why we promote exchange and dialogue between our societies.
This is the central aim of our cultural relations and education policy, which builds important bridges between Germany and China.
It promotes each side’s understanding and knowledge of the other.
It brings the necessary depth to our bilateral relations.
That is why it is so crucial that the German cultural intermediaries, scientific and academic organisations, higher education offices, political foundations and NGOs active in China must be allowed full scope to carry out their work.
Following a period of uncertainty for all concerned, the registration of the three research organisations in China at the beginning of April was an important step and one which we greatly appreciate.
We would be very pleased if we could continue along this road and work better together in a spirit of partnership to remove obstacles, such as those encountered recently in cooperation between Tongji University and the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar.
The Sino-German School for Postgraduate Studies is a successful example of our cultural relations and education policy in action and an advert for Sino-German cooperation.
As Foreign Minister Maas stressed in his message of greeting for the anniversary publication: “Cooperation between China and Germany on education and science is an important investment in the future.”
The Sino-German School for Postgraduate Studies is proof that this investment bears rich fruit.
And so I would like to express my gratitude and my recognition to all those who have shown such great commitment to Tongji University and the School, and to encourage you not to slacken in ensuring our common goal – the School’s continuing success.
I wish you all a successful celebration and all the very best for the future. Thank you.