06 November 2009 Opening of the Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr

On 6 November 2009, the Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr was opened. Over 250 guests attended the opening ceremony in the modern setting of the Fraunhofer-inHaus-Center in Duisburg. Delegations of the twin city Wuhan and of the partner university Wuhan had travelled to Duisburg. As a part of the ceremony, the Chinese Ambassador, HE Wu Hongbo, held a much-noticed speech on "60 Years of China and the Sino-German relations".

The chairman of the Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr Association, Prof. Dr. Michael Roggendorf welcomed the guests and expressed his pleasure that the Institute was opened after a long preparation time. Greetings by Prof. Li Qinquan for the Wuhan University and Prof. Dr. Franz Bosbach for the University Duisburg-Essen followed Prof. Roggendorf’s welcoming speech. Prof. Bosbach pointed out that the establishment of the Confucius Institute was a huge benefit for the University of Duisburg-Essen and the regional economy. "Here, students and interested citizens, as well as leaders from business and industry can learn the language and culture of the partner country." Prof. Li added: "The Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr will be an important place where the mutual understanding between the two peoples can be fostered. I'm sure that the Institute will facilitate exchanges, promote cooperation between the two universities and will play a constructive role in strengthening the bilateral cooperation between the two countries." The Lord Mayor of Duisburg also welcomed the guests: "I think that the opening itself is a little miracle when otherwise all facilities of various kinds in the regions are closed." He further pointed out that the establishment of the Confucius Institute in Duisburg could be seen as recognition of the existing infrastructure, which ranges from the oldest Sino-German twin city partnership and the various economic contacts to the Institute of East Asian Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen. The Lord Mayor also expressed his thanks to the Chinese Ambassador for the obvious appreciation of Duisburg as a center of Sino-German friendship, "Our city is so happy to remain so in the future – and is now supported and inspired by the new Institute. It brings together the special competence of this site and makes them more visible to the outside."

A highlight of the event was the signing in the “Golden Book” of the city of Duisburg, the visitors’ book of the city. Exceptionally, it was taken to the site of the festivities because of this special occasion. This gesture again shows the effort and support the city of Duisburg had shown in the establishment of the Confucius Institute from the beginning.

This was followed by a musical interlude of the string quartet of the Duisburg Philharmonic Orchestra and two entertaining speeches of the German Co-directors of the Institute. Prof. Dr. Heberer spoke vividly about the cultural differences and similarities between Germany and China. Prof. Dr. Markus Taube pointed out the importance of China to Germany, refering to the current economic situation. With regard to the future work of the Institute, he concluded: "The Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr understands culture, politics and economy as a whole and will try to promote mutual understanding and to overcome stereotypes and prejudices about modern China with a variety of programs."

The impressive conclusion of the celebration was the performance of the "Duo Silkroad". They achieved a stylistic bridge between Asia and Europe with sounds of marimba, percussion, vocals and the traditional Chinese guzheng.