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Press Release No. 61 | 20 October 2010
Stable, Reliable and Sustainable

The Sino-German Center for Research Promotion in Beijing commemorates its 10-year anniversary

It was a great occasion, one the guests had travelled from near and far to attend. The Sino-German Center for Research Promotion (CDZ) in Beijing was commemorating its 10-year anniversary. In his welcome address to around 200 invited guests, the President of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation), Professor Matthias Kleiner, used the German metaphor of the “rose wedding anniversary” to describe the event, likening it to a celebration of ten years of marriage involving guests who are special to the married couple.

On 19 October 2000, the DFG, together with its Chinese partner organisation, the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), opened the Center’s new building right next to the NSFC’s main building in the northwest sector of the Chinese capital. It was the first of the DFG’s representative offices abroad, and Washington, Moscow, New Delhi and Tokyo followed. The CDZ enjoys a unique position as a Chinese-German joint venture. Each organisation contributes half of its funding; it has two Chinese and two German directors; and it promotes bilateral cooperation in the natural, life, and engineering sciences. Particular emphasis is placed on providing support for early career researchers.

Ten years after the Center’s founding, the visions of its founders have long since been realised, and the funding opportunities it provides have been widely embraced. The Center now supports an average of more than 1400 researchers from China and Germany each year, as well as funding around 30 symposia and summer schools. In addition to numerous early career grant programmes, cooperation groups and research projects, the CDZ has already funded around 250 symposia. It also supports six international Research Training Groups and two Collaborative Research Centres/Transregios, which facilitate cooperation between German and Chinese researchers. Since 2000, the DFG and NSFC have invested around 30 million euros in the CDZ.

The President of the NSFC, Professor Chen Yiyu, was thus entirely justified when he stated in his welcome address that Chinese-German cooperation has become the most significant component of his organisation’s international strategy. The Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to China, Dr Michael Schaefer, emphasised the importance of “research cooperation with the best in the world” for the German Federal Government. The combination of German experience and Chinese dynamism, he said, will guarantee the success of the research and innovation so important to the future of both countries.

The anniversary commemoration began with a strategy workshop illustrating the prospects for the next decade of Chinese-German cooperation in research. DFG President Kleiner highlighted (solar) energy research and research into food safety, microelectronics and material sciences as examples of future areas of cooperation. In his keynote statement, the Center’s German founding president, former DFG president and now Secretary General of the Human Frontier Science Program, Professor Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker, clearly illustrated the fact that young researchers don’t choose the countries in which they want to work; instead, they choose the top institutions. His advice for the next decade of the CDZ’s existence was as follows: invest in young scientists and their independence! The Secretary General of the DFG, Dorothee Dzwonnek, reiterated this call, emphasising the fact that, in the new framework agreement between the DFG and NSFC on joint calls for proposals, support for early career researchers is a key prerequisite. 

An impressive range of short presentations followed, illustrating the broad scope of the fields of research and the spirited nature of the Chinese-German collaboration. Professor Liqui Meng, who is Chinese by birth and serves as Vice President of the Technical University of Munich, said that up to  20 researchers of her university  regularly visit China for research purposes every month, while Professor Harald Fuchs from Münster and his Chinese colleague, Professor Zhan Xi, gave a presentation on their nanoscience-focused Collaborative Research Center. Dr. Timo Balz, the 2009 recipient of the newly-created NSFC fellowship for young researchers from abroad, gave a presentation in his new role as an Associate Professor and the first permanent foreign employee at Wuhan University. His specialist field is Remote Sensing, and he plans to remain in China for the time being. Professor Reinhold Kliegl, a cognitive psychologist from Potsdam, recipient of the Leibniz Prize and member of the DFG Senate, was able to use Chinese characters to illustrate the fact that their meaning is apparent even at first glance. Professor Bärbel Friedrich, a microbiologist at the Humboldt University of Berlin and Leopoldina Vice President, can, she said, imagine going so far as to collaborate with her Chinese colleagues to work out  international statements on scientific policy issues. During their anniversary speech, Professor Volker Moosbrugger and his Chinese colleague, Professor Sun Ge, described the biggest Chinese-German cooperation project to date, the Tibet Plateau programme.

In conclusion, the anniversary event showed that the Chinese-German scientific relationships are stable and sustainable, not least due to the trust and interpersonal relationships that have been established. The role of the Sino-German Center for Research Promotion goes way beyond research funding – a factor that, given China’s rapid development as a major economic and scientific power, cannot be underestimated.
It was, therefore, with complete confidence that DFG President Kleiner was thus able to state that the CDZ is sure to be around to celebrate its “golden wedding” after 50 years of “marriage”.

Further Information

For more information, please contact:

  • Dr. Ingrid Krüßmann of the International Affairs Department at the DFG Head Office. Tel.: +49 228 885-2786, ingrid.kruessmann@dfg.de;
  • Dr. Eva-Maria Streier, head of the DFG’s Press and Public Relations Department, Tel.: +49 228 885-2250; eva-maria.streier@dfg.de

A 40-page limited edition brochure has also been published to commemorate the CDZ’s 10th anniversary. This is available free of charge from the DFG (Tel.: +49 228 885-2109,  michael.hoenscheid@dfg.de), as well as on the Internet at: