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Idioms cited by Xi serve as a window for German academicians to learn Chinese civilization


Alwihda Info | Par peoplesdaily - 7 Juillet 2017 modifié le 7 Juillet 2017 - 12:23

“Only the very aged people in Germany could cite German classics such as poems and proverbs, which is generally impossible for younger generations,” Mittag said, adding that unlike the Chinese, German politicians seldom refer to classics in their speeches.


By Feng Xuejun from People’s Daily

The sinologists and students in Germany now have a stronger interest in studying the works related to Chinese President Xi Jinping, through which they understand China’s 5,000-year-long civilization, the philosophy of contemporary China as well as the country’s culture to pursue peace.

Bashtil, a student majored in Chinese studies at the University of Tübingen, chose “the application of ancient Chinese classics and idioms in Xi’s speeches” as the research topic of his graduation thesis.

After reading the German version of Xi Jinping: The Governance of China, Bashtil was enchanted by the cultural elements contained in the president’s illustrations on Chinese dream, paths and reform, and cultural confidence in particular. The book contains 79 speeches, talks, interviews, notes and letters of the Chinese leader between November 2012 and June 2014.

By composing his thesis, Bashtil hopes to present a clear picture of modern Chinese philosophy and the country’s pursuit of peace to his fellow Germans through the idioms and allusions frequently cited by Xi.
He also found a book, published by the People’s Daily Press, which collects the allusions cited by the president as reference materials when writing the paper.

The German student found his interest in studying Chinese idioms and allusions after coming to China for study.

“I was engaged in an exchange program with Peking University in 2014, where I found that idioms solitaire was the most popular spare-time activity among the foreign students,” Bashtil recalled.

Back then, he knew little about Chinese idioms. In order to catch up with his fellow students, he bought a book and made cards to learn these idioms, which unexpectedly aroused his interest.

Though many of the idioms derive from ancient stories, they are still working well in modern society. As a result, Bashtil decided to have a study on ancient Chinese idioms, especially their application in modern society.

Being a famous German sinologist, Achim Mittag was invited to attend the symposium between President Xi and some German sinologists, teachers of Confucius Institutes and Chinese-major students when the Chinese President visited Germany in 2014.

Mittag was deeply impressed by the idioms cited by Xi in the symposium three years ago. “He referred to a number of idioms and allusions, showing a remarkable accomplishment in ancient Chinese,” the sinologist said.

Mittag then suggested Bashtil to thoroughly read the German version of Xi Jinping: The Governance of China, and take the idioms and allusions in Xi’s remarks as his specific research subjects.

The sinologist said that the realistic and political significance of the idioms cited by the Chinese top leader is of more research value. In his eyes, Xi’s citation has a considerable realistic significance for the understanding of the modern China.

“Only the very aged people in Germany could cite German classics such as poems and proverbs, which is generally impossible for younger generations,” Mittag said, adding that unlike the Chinese, German politicians seldom refer to classics in their speeches.

Given the different historic and cultural backgrounds, both countries hold different attitudes towards ancient classics, he said.

Mittag has noticed the literacy of Chinese leaders. In his eyes, they are not merely politicians. The speeches of Xi, former top leaders Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping all carried some similarities, said Mittag, adding that it is an inheritance of Chinese top leaders.

The sinologist believes that the research on the realistic significance of Xi’s citation of idioms will help understand China’s political philosophy and policy principles.


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