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Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (Logo)Event Reports

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Extensive cooperation and intensive dialogue: As in previous years, the 2018 conference for the alumni of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) emphasised the importance of this established annual forum. Chinese and German participants spent three days in Dunhuang, located in the north-western province Gansu, to discuss the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as a connection between China and Germany. In addition to lively debates and many interesting talks, special focus was placed on socialising with old and new contacts.

Even though this year’s alumni conference was held in the desert city of Dunhuang, it would turn out to be neither dry nor boring. Michael Winzer, chief representative of the KAS office in Beijing, made this clear in his opening words: the Dunhuang conference should be a forum to foster the spirit and ties of the KAS alumni family and allow for stimulating discussions.

In her welcoming speech, Ms Zhang Ruoning, deputy director of the Europe Department of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, pointed out the very good timing of the conference. The enormous Belt and Road Initiative would not only have the potential to accelerate international cooperation, but could also be a tool for joint economic growth, peace, and development. According to Ms Zhang, now was the perfect time to discuss the initiative and improve people’s understanding of it.

Rolf Reinhard, deputy head of the Economic Division of the German Embassy Beijing, agreed with this general optimism. While discussing the big potential of BRI, he nevertheless also stressed doubts and points of criticism often raised in “Western countries” regarding it. A lack of transparency within contract award processes, as well as lacking information on the structural and economic conditions in partner countries, and too little interest in international support had yet to be properly addressed by Chinese authorities. However, Mr Reinhard also acknowledged that during the last German-Chinese government consultations in July some steps were taken towards solving these problems.

Subsequently, Frank Priess, deputy head of the Department for European and International Cooperation of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, highlighted the importance of domestic and international projects of the KAS. Ongoing issues within the European Union, such as Brexit and the rise of populist and nationalist movements within member states, but also the ever-present topic of global migration, and security in the Middle East and Africa, are continuously impacting the work of the foundation in the world, according to Mr Priess. Nowadays topics like climate, migration and the economy are closely interlinked and require holistic approaches, shared knowledge and cultural exchange.

These points were supported by the following speech of Dr Stefan Kaufmann, member of the German Bundestag and chairman in its Committee for Education, Research and Technology Assessment. According to Dr Kaufmann, China and Germany were not only strong partners economically, but also cooperated successfully in other areas, for example science and technology. Furthermore, their cooperation in key technological fields, such as electro mobility and LED technology, as well as the digital economy or vocational training was still improving and deepening. A panel discussion led by Dr Mao Xiaofei from the Chinese Academy for Social Sciences followed, with the participants focusing on the cultural differences in perception of and their approach to BRI in particular.

The second day continued in a similar vein. Mr Wang Fusheng, from the Gansu Academy for Social Sciences, and Mr Wang Hao, from the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, stressed the importance of Dunhuang, Gansu as well as other western provinces for the Belt and Road initiative. The creation of economic corridors to further connect China to its neighbouring countries and regions and the establishment of additional transportation hubs were highlighted. A representative of the China Communications Constructions Company illustrated how the initiative had affected one of the largest Chinese construction companies, and how its enormous budget could be used for different projects.

Professor Wang Jianbin, dean of the Department of German Language at the Beijing Foreign Studies University, proved his great humour and entertainment skills when leading through the subsequent discussion. Once more, the different perspectives on China’s infrastructure projects were debated. Both alumni and speakers shared their views on how natural resources, Chinese investments, the fear of intellectual property theft as well as reciprocity have influenced the domestic and international perception of the Belt and Road initiative.

About this Serial

The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, its educational institutions, centres and foreign offices, offer several thousand events on various subjects each year. We provide up to date and exclusive reports on selected conferences, events and symposia at www.kas.de. In addition to a summary of the contents, you can also find additional material such as pictures, speeches, videos or audio clips.

Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e.V.

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