12 Januray 2012 Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr receives book donation from the Hong Kong Economic Trade Office in Berlin

In October 2011, an exhibition of 750 publications from Hong Kong was presented for the first time at the Frankfurt Book Fair in cooperation with the Hong Kong Publishing Federation and the Hong Kong Printers Association. This exhibition demonstrated the creativity and diversity of the Hong Kong publication sector. In 12 January 2012, the Hong Kong Economic Trade Office, based in Berlin and represented by Director Stephen Wong, donated 120 of these books to the Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr in a formal ceremony. These selected publications had received prices for their high quality. This generous donation was a valuable addition to the book stock of the young Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr and now gives readers in the Ruhr Area a unique opportunity to get access to the latest Hong Kong publications from the fields of culture, arts, society and contemporary history of Hong Kong. For those learning and reading Chinese at the Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr, these publications are a not only an addition regarding the content but also a valuable linguistic addition, as they are written in Traditional Chinese characters, while in China, Simplified Chinese characters are used and the majority of the literature available at the Confucius Institute is also written in the same. The generous donation of books became possible because of the mediation of Johannes Pflug, member of the German Parliament, who for a long time is a great supporter of the Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr.

20 January 2012 New Year's Concert in the Heinrich-Böll high school

The Year of the Dragon was welcomed by the Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr with a Chinese New Year concert. The renowned Orchestra of the Jiaotong University in Shanghai followed an invitation of the Institute and visited the Ruhr Region and in 20 January 2012 they gave a New Year's concert at the ‘Heinrich-Böll high school’ in Bochum, a comprehensive school that has been cooperating with the Confucius Institute for a long time. The Orchestra of the Jiaotong University visited Belgium a few days earlier and gave only one concert in North Rhine-Westphalia. It was founded in 1994 and has won numerous awards. Previous concert tours had brought the orchestra to the United States, France, Japan and New Zealand and now for the first time to Germany.

As part of the concert, well-known Chinese melodies were presented and traditional Chinese musical instruments, such as the Chinese two-stringed viola "Erhu", the "Guzheng", a mandolin-like "Liuqin" or the bamboo flute "Dizi", were brought closer to the audience. The young Bochum audience was also given the possibility of trying out the instruments and sounds and even to meet the ensemble members after the concert. It was not just a concert, but also an opportunity to exchange for Chinese learning students of the ‘Heinrich-Böll high school’ with the students of the Jiaotong University.

Since its founding in 2009, the Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr strives to offer a wide range of programs for those interested in China, not only at its headquarters in Duisburg but in the entire Ruhr region. It enables students to participate in summer camps in China or in a summer school at the University of Duisburg-Essen; it offers language courses and workshops on Chinese cultural techniques and cooperates with numerous schools in the region.

The well-attended and merry New Year's concert in Bochum encouraged the Institute to continue to organize many cultural and educational programs for children and youths.

29 July to 21 September 2012 Exhibition “Chinese Stuff”

From 29 July to 21 September 2012, the exhibition "Chinese Stuff" took place in the so called "cubus art gallery" in Duisburg, during which over hundred everyday objects from China were shown. The exhibition, which was organized by the Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr in cooperation with the Popcorn Idea Factory of the China University of Communications in Beijing, the Frankfurt Museum of Applied Arts and the Dragon Bridge Club e.V., was a crowd puller during the summer months in Duisburg. Even the opening on 29 July was visited by over 200 people. But the exhibits shown were neither culturally important art objects nor classic inventions from China or objects "Made in China". The "Chinese stuff" had been chosen keeping in mind the following three characteristics:

  • Local origin and taste: The thermos illustrates its Chinese origin through its flowery design.
  • Everyday use and adaptation of an object to life in China: Chinese bicycles are often equipped with a basket and a child seat.
  • Special significance of the object in China: In colloquial Chinese a backscratcher is called "ask no one for help”.

Short texts concisely presented the objects, but they also told funny and interesting stories on the use of each object. They also made it clear that some items now have a completely different meaning than they had 20 years ago.

Beside regular tours, a multifarious supporting program for youth and adults was also part of the exhibition and in its implementation, the team of the Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr had worked for many months. Also well attended were consultations with Prof. Xu Kuanhua – the Chinese Co-director of the Confucius Institute – as a part of a special service offered during the exhibition. Visitors had the opportunity to bring some objects they assumed "Chinese" and Prof. Xu gave them information about the actual meaning and origin of these objects. In a room, separately established for children, young visitors could playfully learn the Chinese culture. The Confucius Institute had also published a booklet for children titled "Multifarious China" which vividly illustrated the diversity of China in a comprehensible way. For youths and adults, there was a quiz with questions about the various exhibits. The winners were drawn on 21 September and were awarded with book prizes, shopping vouchers and other attractive gifts. A special highlight of the program accompanying the exhibition was the summer concert "China and the West", a musical dialogue between Professor Ilse Storb at the piano and Mrs. Gao Hong, who played the erhu, a two-stringed Chinese viola da gamba.

14 September 2012 40 years of Sino-German relations

In the year 2012, there was the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Germany and China and therefore, it was an ideal time to recall not only the multiple links between the two countries today, but also the development and deepening of relations in recent decades. Following an invitation of the Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr, Johannes Pflug, who is a Member of the German Parliament, recalled the aforementioned in a presentation titled "40 Years of Sino-German relations - a difficult but successful partnership”. Johannes Pflug, who is also a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Parliament and Chairman of the Sino-German Parliamentary Group, has for many years shown a precise knowledge of the Sino-German relations and illustrated his presentation with many examples and experiences from everyday political life. He described the cooperation between the two countries in the economic, political, social, scientific and cultural fields, but he also pointed out the controversial bilateral issues such as the discussion on the rule of law and human rights issues.

The intense and continuous support of the Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr by Johannes Pflug enabled the Institute to discuss with him in May 2012 about China's role and influence in the Korean Peninsula, too. This discussion was a part of the lecture series "China in Transition" which exists since 2010. Johannes Pflug’s accurate knowledge of the security structures in East Asia and his technical expertise on China and Korea were a gain of knowledge for any interested participant. His presentation bore the title "China's influence on the Korean peninsula - the six-party talks on the way to Helsinki Process?". After his presentation, the major commitment of Johannes Pflug for the Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr and thus promoting the Sino-German exchange was appreciated and therefore the Honorary Membership of the association of the Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr had been solemnly awarded to Mr. Pflug.

18 October 2012 Panel discussion – "China's changing society"

In 18 October 2012, under the aegis of Dr. Angelica Schwall-Düren, Minister for Federal Affairs, Europe and the Media of North Rhine-Westphalia, a well-attended panel discussion on the transformation of the Chinese society took place in the State chancellery Düsseldorf. The event was organized as a cooperation of the State chancellery with the Mercator Foundation, the Institute of East Asian Studies and the Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr.

The participants of the panel discussion were Prof. Dr. Thomas Heberer, Co-Director of the Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr, Prof. Yu Keping of Beijing University, Janis Vougioukas, China correspondent of the weekly journal "Stern" and Diana Zimmerman, Chief Editor of German television ZDF – “auslandsjournal ". The well-known China expert Gisela Mahlmann was moderating the discussion.

Prof. Dr. Heberer took the position that China is a developing country, where each of the local levels serve as development centres and are of high importance for the steering ability of the state. Prof. Yu Keping pointed out that China would commit to its own development path and learn from good institutions and good experiences of foreign countries in the areas of economy, society and politics. A Chinese model is therefore still in the making he concluded. Janis Vougioukas described the chances of social advancement and social uncertainties in China and pointed out the influence of micro-blogs as a new social form of expression. Diana Zimmerman described the German media coverage of China between the priorities of access to information and news processing.

The discussion was followed by a number of interesting questions and contributions to the discussion from the audience, for example about the Bo Xilai case, the expectations on the new political leadership of China or even the Chinese education system. At the end of the discussion, Gisela Mahlmann summed up: "You can perpetually discuss about China’s development, but the better way to get to know the country is to learn Chinese and to visit China."

19 to 24 November 2012 International Children's Book Festival "IKiBu" – Focus China

The Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr strives to offer an informative and exciting program to even the little ones interested in China, like language classes for children from age 3, but also a weekly "children's course" with games, painting and craft activities around China, as well as numerous workshops on Chinese culture techniques for students of different age groups.

This year's highlight in the context of children and youth program of the Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr was the International Children's Book Festival "IKiBu" 2012 on the subject of China, which was organized in cooperation with the City Library of Duisburg.

Between the 19th and 24th November 2012, 72 readings, taster courses on Chinese language, Chinese calligraphy workshops, film and theatre presentations for children and youths took place at various branches of the City Library of Duisburg and were visited by more than 3,500 children and youths interested in China. Special attractions were the interactive media station of the Confucius Institute, performances of the Chinese martial arts Taijiquan and musical performances on the traditional Chinese instrument Guzheng.

Also, throughout the week, books for youths from and about China were presented on two floors of the main library. There was also a quiz about China and all participants who were able to answer all questions were given attractive prizes. The main reason for the event, which is held annually since 1971 under a different focus, was the 30-year anniversary of the twinning between Duisburg and Wuhan, which is the oldest German-Chinese town twinning. This was a wonderful occasion for young and old visitors of the IKiBu 2012 to become familiar with China, the Chinese language and culture.

Overall, the IkiBu 2012 was a successful event that encourages the Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr to engage in intercultural exchange in collaboration with local partners.

Since 2010, the Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr is closely cooperating with the Central Library of Duisburg. Apart from the numerous events which were jointly organized by the Confucius Institute and the City Library, the "Window to China“ is an important element of cooperation. This "window", which was solemnly opened by Confucius Institute and the City Library in June 2012, makes available books about China, the Chinese language and culture to the public. The stock of literature of the city library was donated by the Confucius Institute Metropolis Ruhr and will be expanded continuously.