City Partnership Beijing

Peking - Verbotene Stadt
Image: Allen Timothy Chang

“Isn’t it a pleasure to meet with friends from afar?” This saying by Confucius is a good reflection of the city partnership between Berlin and Beijing: countless joint projects, reciprocal visits by delegations on the political and the working level, and personal contacts in different areas have led to many long-term cooperative projects and deep personal friendships.

Berlin’s relationship with Beijing is one of its most active city partnerships. An agreement on friendly cooperation was signed already on 5 May 1988 by the Magistrat, East Berlin’s city government, and its counterpart in Beijing. In April 1994, a joint declaration and a memorandum on exchange programs underscored the partnership between the two capital cities.

Exchanges between the two capitals are supported, carried out, and further developed by many different stakeholders and institutions in Berlin. The current focus is on the judiciary, public security, public administration, culture, education, and high school student exchanges. Cooperation in the area of the judiciary is embedded in the German-Chinese dialogue on the rule of law on the federal level.

Although the two cities differ enormously in population and area, Berlin has good input to offer also in the area of urban development and the economy. Conversely, many different projects in the cultural sector have helped to raise awareness and appreciation of Chinese culture in Germany. Beijing is a major world city that is growing by leaps and bounds; it has to keep up with and, at the same time, shape its own development. Many companies in Berlin are very interested in benefiting from this growth process. Beijing’s own interest in Berlin as a partner in the transportation/mobility, energy/energy efficiency, and creative industry sectors is therefore a great advantage for our city.

Examples of current cooperation: since 2002 (and most recently in January 2011), Berlin has offered two-week continuing-education programs for high-level judges and civil servants from Beijing. A seminar for judges from Beijing was held in Berlin in 2014, and both cities have signed a memorandum agreeing to continue the seminar and continuing-education program in the future. Seeing European – ideally, German – standards implemented in the Chinese legal system is very much in the interest of the German business community (intellectual property law is just one example) and gives a good idea of how interested the German partners are in this cooperation. In addition, a comprehensive exchange of experience on organizing and carrying out large-scale events took place before the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Both Berlin and Beijing are centers of the contemporary art scene. In 2014 the Berlin Film Fest Week held in Beijing and the contemporary art exhibition “The 8 of Paths: Art in Beijing” put on in Berlin showed how interested artists, experts, and culture professionals from both cities are in cultural sector exchanges.

Berlin and Beijing are especially proud of the joint work they are doing with young people. There are now 18 partnerships between schools in the two capitals. Thanks to these school partnerships, Chinese can now be taken as a student’s third foreign language at 10 schools in Berlin and can even be chosen as the second foreign language at another school. These classes are growing steadily. Cooperation in the area of vocational education and continuing education is also very strong: as recently as June 2009, the Berlin Senate Department for Education, Science and Research and the Beijing Education Committee signed a memorandum on cooperation in vocational education; this memorandum gives additional support to an area in which there is already a lot of activity. A host of cooperative projects between scientists in universities and in applied research also ensure that knowledge transfer is taking place in both directions.

Plans are already underway for stepped-up cooperation in the areas of tourism, climate protection/environmental protection, health, and administration.

In 2019 the focus will be on the 25th anniversary of our city partnership. A series of events and activities from different areas of our cooperation will be held to celebrate this anniversary.

You can find out more about planned activities and events under News. Past events are listed under Retrospective.