German looks forward to seeing old friend again

Updated: 2013-05-25 01:29

By Fu Jing in Maanheim, Germany (China Daily)

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Premier Li Keqiang will be thrilled if he can renew a friendship with a German whom he lost contact with more than 20 years ago.

The German plans to show Li rare photos of the premier's 1990 visit to Europe.

Li begins the last leg of his four-country tour on Sunday with a state visit to Germany.

German looks forward to seeing old friend again

Rainer Dold, president of the German-Chinese Friendship Association in Stuttgart, shows an old photo of Premier Li Keqiang taken during his visit to Germany more than two decades ago in Berlin. Li arrives in Germany on Sunday. Fu Jing / China Daily

"I think the premier will be touched to see these photos" from 1990, said the 61-year-old Rainer Dold, president of the German-Chinese Friendship Association in Stuttgart.

Dold, as youth league leader of Stuttgart, accompanied Li and his colleagues when they paid a nearly 10-day visit to several cities, including Stuttgart, Hamburg and Frankfurt in August 1990 in what was then West Germany, shortly before Germany's reunification. At that time, Li was the top youth leader of China.

"I think the old photos will bring him back to those happy moments two decades ago," Dold said in a coffeehouse in Mannheim, a southwestern German city, where he is hosting a Chinese delegation. And during the past decades, Dold has contributed much of his time promoting friendship between China and Germany.

Touching the photos, which are kept in a family archive in Stuttgart, Dold said he felt privileged to meet Li during his visit. Dold said Li then revealed his charming personality, which Dold said has not changed.

"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. "And his intention to meet me has shown his strong willingness to improve the Sino-German friendship, not only between us."

Dold, who studied economics and education in college, said he had a lot of exchanges with Li, who shared the same academic interests. At that time, Dold had already embarked on his career in local social welfare services for young and old people. Upon hearing this, Li said: "I think you are warmhearted as you devote yourself to protecting vulnerable groups."

Li was active in exchanging ideas on Germany's experiences in dealing with youth unemployment and also the country's social welfare system. "And he was also enthusiastic about how Germany would be reunited," Dold said. "He was thinking if peaceful reunification could be copied in the reunification of Taiwan and the mainland."

Dold added: "Li was very forward-looking then and loved peace." He said that impressed him, though most of his memories have faded.

Though he didn't meet Li after that encounter, Dold said he kept up with Li's career later on in Central China's Henan province and Northeast China's Liaoning province, and later as vice-premier in the State Council.

Dold has learned that Li and his colleagues have been keen on fighting corruption and promoting market reform after Li was endorsed for the premiership.

Dold said he is anticipating the meeting with Li and is well-prepared.

"If I am allowed more time, I will discuss with him how to deal with the challenge of an aging population as China is faced with that," Dold said. "If time doesn't permit, I will at least show him photos and refresh our memories."