A whole new market for German culture

Posted: October 1, 2011 in English, Kaffeeklatsch, Realpolitik
Tags: , , , , , , ,

by Jan Tzschichhold

Everybody knows that there exist strong economic ties between China and Germany, the world’s top two exporters and respectively the second and fourth strongest economies in the world. Approximately 3 months ago, both countries signed deals worth more than $15 billion. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao set a target of doubling annual trade between the two countries by 2015. Historically, Germany’s relationship with China extended beyond solely economics, and this is still true today. There are various example of how German culture has impacted China and its population.

For example, between the 16th and 18th centuries, Beijing was home to many European Jesuits, especially those from Germany. They were influential not only due to their good knowledge of astronomy and mathematics, but also because they acted as sources of information about China for an astonished Europe. Another important German in China was John Rabe, who is also known as “the Good Man of Nanking” or the “Oskar Schindler of China.” When the Japanese army advanced on the Chinese city Nanking in 1937, Rabe, along with a few other foreigners, created an International Safety Zone. John Rabe is credited with saving the lives of more than 250,000 Chinese people, who otherwise would have been massacred at the hands of the Japanese. In 1997 his tombstone was moved from Berlin to Nanking, where it received a place in honor.

Another place where Germans influenced Chinese history is in the city Quingdao, a former German colony founded in 1897. Many of the older buildings and villas still reflect a German architectural style, and the strongest company, for which Quingdao is famous these days, is of course a traditional German beer brewery. However, the name “German Town” relates to a more recently built city. “German Town Anting” was conceived by German architects as a completely artificial product built up from the ground. The city is still nearly uninhabited, but one day it will become home for more than 50,000 people. The only goal for the Chinese government in this project was to create a “typical German” city.

Furthermore, Chinese television has discovered German culture as an important ingredient for popular shows. For example, the Chinese soap “Zhen ai wu di” (magic love) was completely filmed in Bavaria. The creator and director explained that Chinese people would love the old buildings, the beautiful landscape, and the romantic atmosphere. It is the first Chinese series ever made in a western country, and the most expensive one as well. Additionally, the series “Why? Wei shen me,” is a Chinese version of the German science series “Wissen mach Ah!” The Chinese producers are sure that the intelligent and sarcastic style of the series will be very successful in China so they have not changed anything about the western format, something very unusual for Chinese productions.

German culture has somehow found its way into China and is spreading rapidly. Soon, China’s foreign business potential will extend beyond cheap production possibilities towards an increasing export sector of cultural products to a market of 1.3 billion consumers. Thus, it is paramount that Germany has a Goethe Institute in China, the only foreign cultural institute on mainland territory. With cultural institutions such as the Goethe Institute and a visionary private sector, Germany will be able to profit from China’s increasing demands for foreign culture.

  1. Franz says:

    Schlag den raab wurde z.B. auch nach China verkauft. Ja, richtig Jan ich lese deinen Blog.

  2. Hey, es freut mich, dass du dir meine Artikel durchliest, falls du irgendwelche
    Verbesserungsvorschläge hast, sag mir bescheid. Und es wundert mich, dass China Raab nicht gleich ganz gekauft hat…

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