China Connections: How culture builds bridges between nations, people
By Ai Yan

"Whenever I'm in China, I feel at home," said Volker Tschapke, former president of the Prussian Society, adding that it is fascinating to find some similarities in the culture, history and people's spirit of China and Germany.

As the former and honorary president of the Prussian Society, a non-government organization founded in 1996, Tschapke has been involved in organizing many Chinese cultural activities in cooperation with Berlin's China Cultural Center, including the annual Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations from 2013 to 2015.

Tschapke, who first visited China in 1984, said that he was amazed at the changes that have taken place in the country within decades.

"It is changing every month," he said. "You can find it nowhere else in the world."

According to Tschapke, the Chinese speed is always like a miracle to him such as infrastructure constructions, including high-speed railways, bridges, and glittering skyscrapers.

The skyline of Shanghai, China. /VCG Photo

The skyline of Shanghai, China. /VCG Photo

Tschapke, while discussing the reasons behind holding Chinese cultural events, said that he found the likeness of the Chinese and Prussian spirits very interesting.

The Prussian Spirit laid the foundation for the unification and rise of Germany, which upholds and not limits the merits of frugality, modesty, inclusiveness and high sense of responsibility.

"It feels like twins," Tschapke said.

He also admires the Chinese model of dealing with international affairs, which is "quite different." "Not war, not navy, not army, but 'One Belt, One Road' Initiative," he said. "It was fascinating that China does not go to Africa to tell them what to do, but to help, assist, and work together."

A China-sponsored light railway line was launched in Ethiopia on September 20, 2015. /VCG Photo

A China-sponsored light railway line was launched in Ethiopia on September 20, 2015. /VCG Photo

Tschapke is not the only one to be charmed by the Chinese culture. Dr. Friedhelm Acksteiner, who has also been associated with the China Cultural Center in Berlin, shared some of his thoughts.

Dr. Acksteiner, who founded Acksteiner Event in 1999, has been behind several Chinese cultural events, including the "Happy Chinese New Year" festival which is held every year at the Potsdamer Platz in the German capital, and is also one of the largest among such celebrations in the country.

The annual event invites Chinese artists from different provinces to exhibit the diverse cultures of China, including dancing and singing, as well as intangible cultural heritages such as paper cuttings and modern arts. This year, in January, the celebrations attracted over 150,000 people, quoting a big success. 


He also organized several Chinese food events, eventually becoming one of China's close friends. He has made at least seven trips to China since establishing ties with the China Cultural Center.

Dr. Acksteiner said that culture could always bring people closer. He cited his journey to north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region as an example, saying that he was impressed by the tradition of local residents. He also recalled how he was introduced to the young Chinese rap generation for the first time during the visit.

Talking about his organization "New Belt and Road Association" in Berlin, he said: "The development of the Belt and Road Initiative is not a one-time program. It includes so many other programs like infrastructure construction, such as railways, airports, pipelines, communications."

"Happy Chinese New Year" event being held in Berlin, Germany. /VCG Photo

"Happy Chinese New Year" event being held in Berlin, Germany. /VCG Photo

Dr. Acksteiner believes that culture helps in laying the foundation of bilateral cooperation between the two countries. "You cannot work together well without knowing the culture and traditional conditions of each other," he said.

Speaking of his future plans, he said that he wants his daughter to take over the business and carry forward the relationship he established with the China Cultural Center. "That's how you build bridges between generations," he concluded.

Reporter: Ai Yan

Videographer: Ai Yan

Video editor: Wang Yulian

Graphic designer: Gao Hongmei