Cologne in the Year of the Dragon
2012 China Year featuring many facets and highlights
On the occasion of the Chinese New Year, the city of Cologne and the Consulate General of the People's Republic of China held a spring festival gala in the middle of January to officially inaugurate the 2012 China Year in Cologne. This was to celebrate 25 years of twinning between Cologne and Beijing as well as 40 years of diplomatic relationships between China and Germany. "This is a good occasion to have a celebration with our friends, become even more acquainted with China and its diversity, and expand contacts for the future", said Lord Mayor Jürgen Roters in his welcoming address. Consul General Wen Zhenshun also emphasised the opportunities offered by the China Year: "I am firmly convinced that all this will promote mutual understanding, and drive bilateral relations to a new height."
Cologne is considered the China Competence Centre in North Rhine-Westphalia. After starting a China business offensive in 2005, Cologne has been successful in attracting 200 Chinese companies which established themselves in this city. A series of specialist conferences will be hosted by the city of Cologne to pursue its course of economic policy in the China Year. Major events will include the Cologne International Financial Market Forum and the China Business and Investors Forum.
During the coming twelve months, the China Year will be the central theme marking the entire calendar of events to be organised in Cologne. The centre of interest will be the NRW China Festival (14 - 16/09/2012) organised both by the city of Cologne and by the State government. In September, China will be in the limelight in Cologne, and the dragon will be dancing around the Cologne Cathedral. A Chinese market will be open to visitors on Roncalli square, creating an authentic Chinese atmosphere, offering delicious titbits from Chinese cuisine, and featuring arts and sports shows which include, e.g., Tai Chi and Qigong presentations. In addition, a wealth of information will be available on Beijing as a twinned city and on the entire People's Republic. "HyCologne", the hydrogen cluster of the RegionRheinland e. V. association, will provide busses driven by fuel cells to offer VIP transport. Cologne is particularly happy to see the stage programme Beijing has announced as a present for the festival.
One of the cultural highlights will be shown by the Museum for East Asian Arts. An exhibition under the title of "Glory of the Chinese Emperors: Art and Life in the Forbidden City" will bring a fine selection of treasures from the Chinese emperor's courts dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries to Cologne (09 - 12/2012). Brigitta Zeumer, who is particularly popular in China, will present 40 masterpieces of Chinese ink and watercolour painting in cooperation with Cao Yingyi. She is the first living German artist who has been invited for an exhibition to the Imperial Palace in Beijing. Cao Yingyi is one of China's major artists.The appearances of BeijingDance at Cologne's Palladium events hall will provide an impressive insight into the world of modern Chinese dancing while the "Kölner Filmhaus" media and cinema centre will present contemporary cinematography from China in its "Visions of China - Chinese Film Festival, Cologne". And the dragon will also be dancing on Photokina, ArtCologne and at the Museum of Applied Arts. Visitors of ArtCologne will be surprised by a special exhibition shown at the entrance to the trade fair. At that place, He Xiangyu will build up his "Man on Chairs", i.e., an installation consisting of 150 chairs made of wood found in Beijing. The guest performance given by the ensemble of the Kun Opera from Shanghai in November 2011 may be considered the cultural launch of the China Year, and brought one of the most ancient forms of dramatic art in the world to the stage of the Cologne Opera house.
The scientific congress to be held at the University of Cologne and at the Rautenstrauch Joest Museum will address many questions. Taking up an exhibition dealing with Enlightenment in China, a philosophical discussion will take place among the four partner universities of Cologne and experts for law and Germany from China in addition to a dialogue on this subject with citizens in Cologne. Several events will be organised to present Chinese medicine, e.g., on the TCM information forum for citizens initiated by the health department of the city of Cologne.
The China Year is also intended to provide a sustainable basis for the future of city twinning between Cologne and Beijing. For this reason, young people will be involved more and more in every field of cooperation with China, and, first of all, in the areas of environment and nature conservation, of course. The subject matter of human rights also is a facet addressed during the China Year. Students have already exchanged views and held discussions in a respectful dialogue conducted on an equal footing during a workshop and a series of lectures held by different speakers at the University of Cologne. More events are being planned to deal with this subject.
The China Year will also appear at many levels in the education sector. In addition to the partnership relations already existing, four additional schools from Cologne wish to start exchanges with schools in China. The courses offered to teach Chinese as a foreign language at schools in Cologne shall be expanded, and Chinese sports will be presented both at schools and sports clubs. Chinese sports will also be on view during presentations and show competitions given at the 11th Cologne Olympics for Children and Young People within the scope of the Cologne Children's Sports Festival.
Carnival will probably feature the most colourful encounter between the cultures of the two twinned cities. Beijing Tourism will send 60 Chinese lions to perform as a group in front of the "Schull- und Veedelszöch" carnival procession. Moreover, Guo Kun, China's carnival princess of this year will also see the high holidays of carnival in Cologne, and will even ride in the procession on Monday before Lent.