Qi Xin likes to buy salty German rolls when he passes a bakery run by a German near his home in Shenyang, the capital of northeast China’s Liaoning province.
It reminds him of the time he spent in the European country, he said.
“There are many international cities in China, like Beijing and Shanghai. However, there are few with a distinctly German flavor like Shenyang,” he said.
The 33-year-old studied for a master’s degree in German-Chinese translation at the University of Mainz in Germany from 2007 to 2009.
“I’m interested in Germany and its culture, so I chose to further my education there,” he said.
From 1993, when the first Sino-German venture was set up in Shenyang, until the end of last year, the city approved 141 German-invested companies.
Since BMW launched the BMW Brilliance Automotive joint venture in 2003, the city and brand have been tightly linked.
As a result, an increasing number of people such as Qi have become interested in learning German.
Lu Hao, an accountant at BBA, said: “German is my primary business language, but I’m not sufficiently proficient in it to speak it to our company’s German employees. So I need to improve.”
He learned the language at the Goethe Language Learning Center in Shenyang, which was founded in 2013 in cooperation with Northeast University in Shenyang.
Qi, who is the Chinese head of the center, said the number of students has grown rapidly since 2014.
“There was only one class at first, but now there are six. The students include those planning to study in Germany, German companies’ employees and German spouses in Shenyang.”
Many German students are now studying in the city.
Natalia Roller, an exchange student from Hochschule Wismar University in northern Germany, majors in architecture at Shenyang Jianzhu University.
The 29-year-old learned about the city from classmates who studied there.
“Shenyang is growing really fast,” she said. “I have more opportunity to do some big projects.”
Roller has quickly adapted to her new life in China.
“I love the people here and also the cuisine, such as baozi (steamed buns). I have made many Chinese friends here. They are teaching me Chinese, and I am teaching them German and English,” she said.