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Speech by FES Secretary-general Roland Schmidt at the Celebration of the 20th Anniversary of "Partnership and Cooperation"


This year marks the 130th anniversary of the founding of the first Chinese legation in Berlin and the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Germany and China. This year also marks the 20th anniversary of cooperation between Friedrich-Ebert Foundation(FES) and CAFIU.
Today, Sino-German relations demonstrate unprecedented friendship, trust and partnership. We have an enormous interest in China. The ongoing developments in social and economic fields have shaped our image of China. The western world is closely watching  China¡¯s rapid economic expansion. In many of our newspapers, some people have already raised such a question: Does communism really work? It seems that China has with facts exposed the lie of those defenders of the neoliberal economic policy who have been selling the therapy of ¡°weakening the state and opening the market¡± to deal with the challenge of globalization. The governing party in China is a Marxist party. She has not given up the control of economy by the state. This is a fact worth thinking. On the other hand, China also has a great interest in Germany.
Germany is China¡¯s most important trading partner in Europe. The research cooperation between the universities of the two countries is becoming increasingly closer. Only last year more than 100,000 Chinese citizens toured Germany. FES has noticed this and we are happy that many Chinese visitors came to the former residence of Karl Marx in Trier. The residence belongs to FES and was opened again the year before last after a rearrangement of the exhibits.
Sino-German relations once experienced a difficult period. FES is one of the institutions which always persist in maintaining a presence in China and carrying out cooperation with Chinese partners. We believe that is one of the reasons why we have kept a good partnership with our Chinese friends. This also shows that political foundations are largely independent. This independence is of great significance for the political foundations playing a role in the federal system of Germany.
Former German President Helzog used to describe the role and mission of political foundations as a necessary supplement to the foreign and development policy of Germany. They have the advantage of providing the service which official diplomacy does not and is unable to provide, because they are widely embedded in various societies. This is their unique feature. All German political foundations are affiliated to a particular party. This structure reflects the party democracy laid down in our constitution as well as the pluralistic system of federal Germany. FES is affiliated to the Social Democratic Party. It means FES is guided by the values of social democracy and does its work on the basis of these values. The affiliation does not mean dependence. To put it more exactly, political foundations are independent institutions running on their own.
The pluralism of German foundations is well demonstrated in international work. Whether they are social democracy, Christian democracy, or liberalism and green politics, political foundations can all forge a long-term relationship of political trust through seeking common values in foreign countries. In many cases, political foundations have made friends with influential foreign politicians with different political leanings, no matter they are in power or not. This relationship constitutes the foreign capital and basis for the work of foundations and is of same importance to official diplomacy as well.
FES, founded in 1925, is the earliest and largest political foundation in Germany. She has had a decisive impact on the foundation system of Germany and is an example for political foundations of Germany and some European countries. Through its worldwide network formed by its offices in over 100 countries, FES acts as mediator between different worlds and conducts international dialogue and exchange of experience.
The goal of FES¡¯s international work is promoting international peace through crisis prevention and conflict resolution and guiding the process of globalization. The core of FES¡¯s international development cooperation is to uphold social democracy and justice and follow the principle of ¡°promoting democracy and civil society¡±. In international work, FES has always paid attention to carrying out its work through equal, cooperative partnership in the resident country. Therefore, our projects are designed with local partners and implemented according to the needs of the resident country.
The cooperation and frank dialogue with our Chinese partners over the years is a typical example of FES¡¯s policy. Even in a period of strained bilateral relations following the 1989 incidents, such cooperation and dialogue featuring full trust did not cease. At that time, FES President Holger Boerner supported continuing cooperation with China in disregard of all objections and proved the independence of FES in an impressive way, thereby leading to stable mutual trust. We could discuss specific legal, economic and security issues. We could even hold discussions over controversial, politically sensitive topics in a way only seen among friends. This has special relevance to the 20 years¡¯ cooperation with CAFIU.
Last year, we had the honor to receive the CAFIU delegation headed by CAFIU Vice-President Zhou Tienong and Executive Vice-President Li Chengren. In the circumstances of building a harmonious society, you have a strong interest in Germany¡¯s policy of promoting social balance and coordination between economy and environment. Maybe this could be a new topic for our cooperation. The year before last, FES President Anke Fuchs led a delegation to China to learn about the achievements of China¡¯s reform and opening and problems facing China. She also introduced Germany¡¯s experiences in this regard.
We hope to continue similar exchanges of experiences. I want to emphasize the two projects which have been carried out in the last few years.
First, I¡¯d like to mention the human rights dialogue cosponsored by CAFIU, FES and China Foundation for Human Rights Development(CFHRD). Here, I would express my sincere thanks to CFHRD for its fruitful cooperation. The human rights dialogue has been incorporated into the framework of Sino-German dialogues on the rule of law. This shows we can discuss differences in opinion for mutual benefit on the basis of a mature equal partnership.
Second, I want to emphasize the annual security dialogue cosponsored by CAFIU, FES and the International Department of CPC Central Committee(IDCPCCC). The partnership between CAFIU and FES is a catalyst for the cooperation between FES and other Chinese governmental agencies and social organizations. Please allow me to emphasize the close cooperation with IDCPCCC. If we list one by one the large number of high-level political dialogue, seminars and mutual visits, we would fill several books.
In addition, I would mention the very friendly cooperation with All-China Federation of Trade Unions(ACFTU) which could be dated back to 1983. The German Federation of Trade Unions(DGB) entrusted FES to implement such cooperation. We brought together the trade unions of the two countries to discuss how to safeguard the rights and interests of employees. Besides DGB, a number of important industrial unions have been involved, including the Metal Workers¡¯ Union, the Mining, Chemical and Energy Union and the United Services Union.
I also want to point out the good cooperation with other important Chinese institutions, for example, the Central Party School last year sent a high-ranking delegation to visit Germany at the invitation of FES.
Here on behalf of FES, I¡¯d like to express heartfelt thanks to CAFIU for the friendly cooperation in the last 20 years.
Similar thanks are extended to other partner organizations, friends and all guests who are present at today¡¯s celebration.
Let us continue to join our hands and move forward along the road to success and make common efforts to deepen Sino-German friendship.
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