Li gives credit to special friend from Germany

Updated: 2013-10-29 09:00

By Li Xiaokun (China Daily)

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Relationship formed more than 20 years ago still paying dividends

Premier Li Keqiang met a special German guest on Monday who has visited China dozens of times and worked for decades to build relations between the two nations.

The premier himself witnessed the efforts made by Rainer Dold, then a passionate young man, when Li visited Europe in 1990.

"Your visit reminds me of the warm reception you gave us more than two decades ago," Li told Dold, president of the German-Chinese Friendship Association in Baden-Wuerttemberg, when he met the delegation of German friends who have made contributions to China-German relations.

"I appreciate the great efforts you made in the more than 20 years," Li said at the meeting at the Great Hall of the People.

Li gives credit to special friend from Germany

The story started in 1990 when Li, then leader of the All-China Youth Federation, led a Chinese youth delegation to visit then West Germany. Dold, as a local youth leader, accompanied Li and his delegation on the nearly ten-day tour of several cities.

After that visit, the two young men lost contact. However, Dold has kept photos of Li and the trip in a family archive. He also kept up with Li's career, in both Henan and Liaoning provinces, and later as vice-premier of the State Council.

In an interview with China Daily in May, Dold, 61, said he learned that Li and his colleagues have been keen on fighting corruption and promoting market reform after Li became premier.

"When I saw him years ago, he was a humble, open-minded and gentle young man of my generation, and he is a man good at balance," Dold said.

Li was active in exchanging ideas on Germany's experiences in dealing with youth unemployment and also the country's social welfare system, Dold said.

Their reunion came in May when Li paid an official visit to Germany as the Chinese premier and arranged a meeting with Dold. He showed Li the old pictures he had kept, and the old memories were refreshed.

"This is the best gift from you," Li told Dold. "Youthful friendship is engraved in one's memory and never forgotten."

He invited his old friends to visit China.

"I'm so glad that you made the trip," Li told Dold on Monday.

The premier said friendly ties between China and Germany cannot be separated from the friendship of ordinary people.

He encouraged the delegation to continue making efforts in the area of people-to-people diplomacy.

He also told young members of the delegation that youth is the future of relations between Beijing and Berlin, saying that the two countries should encourage young people to study and work in each other's countries.

Dold said his association wants to take more practical steps to expand cooperation between the two nations. These include arranging for Chinese nurses to travel to Germany for vocational training and short-term work contracts, with the aim of helping with China's project of caring for the aged.

Fu Jing contributed to this story.