"The World in Transformation: Opportunities and Risks for Germany and China"
During the seventh China–Germany Media Forum in the old Chinese imperial city Xi’an, members of the German and Chinese media tackled the question of how the two countries are dealing with the rapidly changing world order. The German participants – including Andreas Cichowicz, editor in chief of NDR Fernsehen, Wolfgang Krach, editor in chief of Süddeutsche Zeitung, and Philipp Fleischmann, managing director of Handelsblatt Global Edition – talked with representatives from the Chinese side, among them Hu Xijin, editor in chief of the Global Times, Bai Yansong, anchor at the Chinese state TV station CCTV, and Dai Xiaojing, deputy editor in chief of Caijing Magazine.
For the forum, which lasted a day and a half, a challenging selection of topics were on the docket. Among other issues, talks focused on the potential of the new Chinese Silk Road initiative for the relationship between China and Europe and the challenges of the demographic change in China and Germany. The refugee crisis, the situation in Syria, and the relations between China and North Korea were also on the agenda. The media representatives from both countries had in-depth conversations about the challenges in their own industry – for example the concerns about new blood in both countries or the responsibility of the media toward society.
Test-Drives in Electric Cars
The forum was embedded in a three-day study tour for the German participants. To begin the trip, the group visited the Muslim part of Xi’an and spoke with the imam of one of the ten largest mosques in China. Finally, the media representatives got a look behind the scenes of the archeological research center of the terra-cotta army, where archaeologist Dr. Li Xiuzhen spoke about more than just her finds. She also spoke about the question of the historical unity of the empire and the resulting self-image of the People’s Republic. A visit to the most successful electric car company in the world – Build Your Dreams (BYD) – was also on the schedule. The German media representatives were even able to test-drive current models. Afterwards, the focus was on the Chinese experience with sustainable urbanization. While visiting an old steel factory that was converted to a creative center for start-ups, the participants spoke with Chinese architecture and design students. To conclude the study tour, during a visit to a Waldorf school in front of the Xi’an city gates, the group took a look at China’s alternatives to the typical public education system.
The Robert Bosch Stiftung organizes the forum every year in collaboration with the Global Times, one of the highest-circulation daily newspapers in China and a subsidiary of the People’s Daily. The forum has previously been held in Shanghai, Berlin, Chengdu, Leipzig, Beijing, and Stuttgart.
What the Participants Have to Say
"The forum is a unique opportunity to better understand how the Chinese media works and thinks, what problems they have, and how they deal with the policies of the government. By now, a relationship built on trust between the two sides has developed; the exchange is much more intense than is the case at official events."
Wolfgang Krach, editor in chief of Süddeutsche Zeitung:
"It was very interesting to learn how our Chinese colleagues perceive the roll of the media in their own society. The direct exchange helps us better understand the conditions under which journalists operate in China."
Sabine Christiansen, TV 21 GmbH:
"The seventh China–Germany Media Forum in Xi’an is characterized by the discussions about a global situation that is complex – both in regards to economics as well as politics. The last few forums have proved to be very helpful in taking down prejudices, so that the discussions – sometimes involving controversial topics – can now be had at a level with plenty of trust."
Joachim Dorfs, editor in chief of Stuttgarter Zeitung:
"For me, this forum was one of the best. It showed how the forum has developed. This time around, discussions based on an organic tradition were possible that would not have been possible in the past. Just as in the past, there were a number of very different perspectives on central topics – but also plenty of commonalities."
Philipp Fleischmann, Managing Director of Handelsblatt Global Edition:
"The media forum has once again made the importance of dialog very clear to me. Even in cases of fundamental differences of opinion, there is still common ground to be found, which makes discussion both possible and meaningful. I am returning with a considerably deeper understanding of the Chinese perspective on many of the topics discussed. This will be helpful for me when cooperating with Chinese partners in the future."
Jörg Lau, Foreign Editor of Die Zeit:
"The forum offers a unique opportunity to discuss relevant political challenges with Chinese colleagues. Here, in an atmosphere of trust and without false deference, you learn a lot about different perspectives in China and in Germany – as well as about your own prejudices."
Uta-Micaela Dürig, Chief Executive Officer of the Robert Bosch Stiftung:
"This year, we once again held a very open and highly pragmatic debate. It made clear to me that both parties are interested in building mutual understanding. Also, as we can sometimes have markedly different points of view, the forum is a highly valuable platform for exchange. Through our reflections on China, we also learn a lot about ourselves and our attitudes. Through our intense exchange, we have further developed both our knowledge of each other as well as our relationship of trust."