50 foreigners from 21 countries win the Friendship Award of China in 2005, the highest honor that the Chinese government confers on foreign experts working in and for China. The Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi attended the awarding ceremony in Beijing on Sept. 29 two days before the 56th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.
Wu Yi said the Chinese government would stick to its policy of building a strong nation on talents who are either cultivated by China or come from other countries. She vowed to improve the social environment and legal system to protect legitimate interests and rights of foreign experts and give them a full play.
So far 850 foreign experts have been given this annual award since 1991 to appreciate their great contribution to China's development by bringing advanced technologies, management and experience that China needs in its modernization drive.
Mr. Luening was an expert with the German section of the China Radio International. An exchange program between the Deutsche Welle and CRI took him to China in 1995. He has been in journalism for "basically all his life".
He came to China when the country was under opening process years after closed for years. "It was a unique chance for me to see with my own eyes, not as a tourist, but really been involved, working with people. It was a lifetime opportunity I cannot afford not coming", he recalled.
But the official cooperation was suspended at the end of 2003. He insisted that he go on to finish his work. Finally he managed to stay on an unpaid leave. "It is a commitment. I just cannot drop and disappear. It is a question of my understanding of doing a decent job."
"I don't regret", he said. He recognized there was different culture and tradition. But he has also found "we have much more in common than we usually assume".
He knows a lot of places in Beijing. He works in Germany now but still often comes to China because of his "general interest in Beijing, in China". He has witnessed and is "fascinated by the breathtaking development that takes place here" over the 10 years. And he met his wife here in Beijing, who is still working in this city. So Beijing is also his home.
Although he did not know that at the beginning, actually it turned out that he has also become a "cultural ambassador, a translator and an interpreter." He often talks about China to people around him in Germany because most Germans are not in the privileged position of being in China for a couple of years. "It is a very important experience in my life. So I use it and talk about it." But he would never write a book, something like "me and china" as someone who just spent a few days or months did. "It's an incomplete picture," he said. He always advises people to "go and see with your own eyes".
The perfect way of understanding another people far apart with different culture is of course living in that country. But "We are living in a world we are getting much closer to each other��So we have information and idea provided we really care to look for them", said the veteran journalist who has making so much efforts on promoting the mutual understanding between the Chinese people and German people. He stressed that people see both sides and made their own judgement to avoid misconception.
When Beijing suffered the SARS epidemic, he was not afraid. He drove to his office every day and continued working full time and even extra time sometimes.
"I don't think I am a hero. I expect people to do job properly. That is what I did." He is satisfied with what he has achieved. But he always expects to do things even "better next time".
By People's Daily Online