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A precious partnership between Denmark and China

Higher Education Minister Morten Østergaard's speech at the opening ceremony of the Fudan European Center for China Studies at Copenhagen University 16th of April 2013.

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Ambassador, Vice-president, Rector, and distinguished guests. This is a great celebration. And it is a great pleasure for me to be here today.

There has been close ties between the University of Copenhagen and Fudan University in more than 15 years.

The opening today of the Fudan-Europe Center for Modern and Comparative Studies at Copenhagen University is a milestone in this collaboration. You could compare this successful partnership and the establishment of the Fudan Center with a Chinese Ming dynasty vase.

  • Firstly, it is very valuable. Because better and more knowledge of each other, will make it easier to understand and handle the differences that characterize Europe and China.
  • Secondly, it is rare. Because Danish-Chinese cooperation within research traditionally have taken place in technical sciences.
  • And finally, it is unique. Because it is the first time ever Fudan University has established a center like this in Europe.

Indeed - it is a precious partnership you have formed. And I would like to congratulate both parties with this new, important center.

Cooperation between Denmark and China

China is a rising superpower in the world of research. Since mid-1990, China has multiplied its investments in research and education. China has 22 million students at higher education institutions. And a prognosis tells that 35 percent of all the world's students in 2035 will be Chinese. And some predict that China in the near future will overtake the U.S. as the world's largest producer of knowledge.

The central point of knowledge is moving – in the direction of China. Denmark has for a long time prioritized cooperation with China. And Denmark is very present in China today. The Danish embassy in Beijing is the largest Danish bilateral embassy and we have consulates in Shanghai, Chongqing, Guangzhou and Hong Kong. We have also increasing our focus on access to innovation in China.

Since 2007 we have had an innovation center in Shanghai.

The innovation center in Shanghai has grown into an active and visible player and the center has well-established links to the best universities in China; not only in Shanghai but also for example in Beijing and Hong Kong. And the innovation center, with its physical presence in Shanghai has been instrumental in relation to the location of the Fudan-center at the University of Copenhagen. I would like to acknowledge the center for these efforts.

Denmark was one of the first countries to formulate a national strategy for knowledge collaboration with China. This was in 2008.

An important outcome of the strategy was the creation of a Sino-Danish University Center in China. The Sino-Danish Center for Education and Research (SDC) is a joint project on education and research between the eight Danish universities, the Danish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education on the one side. And the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Sciences on the other side.

The cooperation has moved fast forward. Last year the first four Master's programmes was launched at SDC within: Neuroscience & Neuroimaging, Water & Environment, Innovation Management and Public Management & Social Development. And in September this year another three new Master's programmes will be launched: Nanoscience, Omics and Biochemical Engineering.

Denmark is an open country

Denmark is a small but very open nation. And the government is determined that we must utilize the opportunities presented by globalisation. In these weeks my Ministry is finalizing an international action plan for Danish higher education. One of the main objectives in the action plan will be to strengthen international learning environments at Danish universities.

No doubt; the establishment of the Fudan Center and the collaboration between Copenhagen and Fudan is a prime example in this context. Fudan University is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in China. The university is a highly estimated international university not least in the humanities and social sciences, which is a key focal point in the partnership with the University of Copenhagen.

Strong partnerships are not build with a one-sided approach. Strong partnerships are mutual. This is not just about Danes and Europeans studying Chinese relations – the Chinese will also study Europe. The center will strengthen Fudan University’s position in Europe. Chinese researchers and students will get a new window to European culture and the interaction between the two parts of the world. Danish and European researchers will get a new platform to develop an even greater understanding of Chinese culture. And Danish and European researchers will get a chance to follow the rapid development in China at close range.

Exchanging ideas and knowledge in a global context marked by mutual interdependence will reap rewards for both Denmark and China. It is a precious partnership.

This brings me back to comparison with the Ming dynasty vase. We all know that we have to handle porcelain with care - not least, when it is valuable, rare and unique. But I am confident that both the University of Copenhagen and Fudan University will handle this precious partnership with care.

The prerequisites for a successful partnership are; trust, respect and common interest. And they are all present here.

Once again congratulations with the opening of the Fudan Center. I am looking forward to follow the future development.

Thank you.

last modified Apr 25, 2013